Four theories of educational games by 0WZ73X


									Four theories of educational
  Why put games into the classroom?
• Increase interactivity
• Increase pleasure
• Increase control / agency

• But what is understood by these terms
  depends on people’s theory of games
                        Version 1
• Games/simulations defined in terms of the way they
  overcome the limitations of ‘real life’
• ‘Real life’ defined in terms of constraints on the individual –
  Turkle’s theory of cyberspace
• Games/simulations offer a radically different way of
  learning: active, not passive; personalised, not didactic;
  safe, not risky
• Prensky: “training and schooling is finally throwing off the
  shackles of pain and suffering which have accompanied it
  for so long... at its very best, even the hard part [of digital
  game-based learning] goes away, and it becomes all fun, a
  really good time from which, at the end, you have gotten
  better at something, through a process [called] ‘stealth
  learning’ “
          Issues with version 1
• Presupposes a ‘natural’ (and thus pleasurable)
  form of learning
• From which perspective is play ‘natural’ ? Play
  appears natural in contrast to formal
• Good learners = good consumers
  Education = poor consumers
                          Version 2
• The negative of version 1
• Immersion threatens critical distance, authority structures, sense of
• Baudrillard and Becta
• “The games interface can be distracting for pupils working to
  achieve defined learning outcomes. Careful structuring by the
  teacher is required to ensure that pupils are not absorbed by game
  play […]. Insisting that pupils break off from using the game to
  concentrate on other aspects of the lesson requires careful
  negotiation and a shared understanding of the purpose of game use
  in the classroom” Dawes & Dumbleton
• “We suggest that learning communication by simulation will not
  take medical students into the depths of the patient’s body, nor will
  it bring them closer to the dynamic process of the patient’s life.
  Simulation can act as a defense, against both the power of complex,
  live clinical environments and the reality of patients ’
  individualities” Bleakley & Bligh
            Issues with version 2
• Pleasure and learning at odds with each other: can’t
  have both at the same time.
• But there is coherence in this position: telling students
  to enjoy is a sure way of ensuring they don’t; are
  games pleasurable because they have no utility?
• Are games interfaces? Does this theory of games
  simply shore up the belief that there is a kernel of
  learning behind them?
• Heavy emphasis put on games like Railroad Tycoon and
  The Sims, rather than e.g. Grand Theft Auto
                                  Version 3
•   Games/simulations just like real life, only slightly better
•   An occasion for identity construction, in a safe place
•   “A game like Arcanum involves playing with identities in very interesting and
    important ways. When one plays Arcanum, and role-playing games like it, three
    different identities are at stake…First, there is a virtual identity: one’s identity as a
    virtual character in the virtual world…A second identity that is at stake in playing a
    game like Arcanum is a real-world identity: namely my identity as ‘James Paul Gee’,
    a non-virtual person playing a computer game…A third identity that is at stake in
    playing a game like Arcanum is what I will call a projective identity, playing on two
    senses of the word ‘project’, meaning both ‘to project one’s values and desires
    onto the virtual character’ ..’and ‘seeing the virtual character as one’s own project
    in the making” Gee
•   “Much of the learning that takes place, indeed, does so through relations between
    peers, as part of their engagement in practice. Mastery, they say, resides not in the
    master but in the organization of the community of practice of which the master is
    part… Recent developments in scenario-based procedural skills, using inanimate
    models attached to simulated patients, provide contextual settings of this kind.”
          Issues with version 3
• How does online identity relate to offline
  identity; what happens when the ‘real world’
  consequences are re-instated?
• Does the fact that one can be active in
  developing an identity online mean that one
  can be more active in doing so offline? Danger
  of simple portrayal of the constraints on the
  real world
                      Version 4
• Playing games involves following orders/rules
• Pleasure of gaming is being able to do what you are
  told – being passive
• Being passive enables distance from the rules that
  govern action: it is the inflexibility of rules which allows
  the suspension of disbelief, not visual realism
• Brecht and Boal – using theatre to see how reality is
  constructed, through mechanical role-play
• The pedagogic emphasis is on script design, rather than
  script enacting – creating rather than entering reality
“Agnes has been playing with [a] simulation [based on the Sims] for many
days…she goes to the "Character Exchange" web site and browses through
different characters. She finds one that looks interesting. It is called "Dave's
Alcoholic Mother version 0.9," and it has the following description:

This mother spends a lot of time working, and she is very tired when she gets
back home. Still, every night she has to fix dinner and do some housecleaning.
She can get very annoyed by children and pets and may become violent. In
order to escape from her reality, she drinks a lot of bourbon.

Agnes finds the character quite interesting. After playing with it for a while,
she realizes that when the mother reaches a certain degree of fatigue, she
starts drinking. The more she drinks, the less she will care about her family.
Although Agnes thinks that the character is pretty well-depicted, there are
details that she does not agree with. For example, the character always gets
her drinks from the little bar in the living room. Agnes knows from personal
experience that, in general, alcoholics hide their bottles around the house
and try not to drink in public. So, she goes back to the "Character Exchange"
and writes a public critique of Dave's creation. After doing this, she tries
alternative alcoholic-mother behaviors. If the available characters do not
satisfy her, she can modify one of the available versions and introduce a new
behavior that makes the mother hide her alcohol bottles. She can then post
this new character online and make it available to other [users of the
simulation].” Gonzalo Frasca

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