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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Good Games and Good Learning

James Paul Gee, who writes prolifically about video games for learning, has a paper out titled Good Video Games and Good Learning. You should check it out yourself but here are a few points from the 14 he lists in the article related to the learning principles good games incorporate.

Solving a puzzle in Uncharted 2 (great game, contains all elements listed below)
Identity– no deep learning takes place unless an extended commitment of self is made for the long haul. Good video games capture players through identify. Players either inherit a strongly formed and appealing character or they get to build a character from the ground up. Players become committed to the new virtual world in which they will learn and act. Why should the identify of being and doing “science,” “math” or “sales” be any different? In Learning in 3D, Tony and I called this Sense of Self.

Risk Taking– Good video games lower the consequences of failure; players can start from the last saved game when they fail. In fact, in a game, failure is a good thing. Players actually use failure as way of finding out information with the game. Tom Peters refers to this as "Failing Forward Fast."

Well-Ordered Problems– In good video games, the problems players face are ordered so that the earlier ones are well built to lead players to form hypotheses that work well for later, harder problems. It matters how the problem space is organized and that is why games have levels.

Performance before Competence– Good video games operate by a principle just the reverse of most training modules: performance before competence (Cazden, 1981). Players can perform before they are competent, supported by the design of the game through just-time help and on demand information as well as by clues, hints and contextual interface.

I discuss some of the same concepts, but not in the same depth in Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning.

Resources Mentioned:

Cazden, C. "Performance before Competence: Assistance to Chidl Discourse in the Zone of Proximal Development." Quarterly Newsletter of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition 3.1 (1981): 5-8.

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