Learning Through Game Design and Serious Play
Due Start of Next Class
Option 1 ) Game Analysis (Educational Theory Mode)
Play/Analyze a Game: Based on this week’s readings and discussion, this production asks you to explore the question: what and how do people learn through playing (digital) games? Pick a console, computer, or online game to play and analyze the affordances for situated learning, simulation of ‘real-world practices’, immersion in language learning practices, etc…
Rules of the Game (analysis) 1. Please do not download any games onto your computer that are not clearly established/reputable games (to prevent any kind of adware problems)… 2. Do not play a basic ‘educational game’ as many of the ones you will find are neither educational nor engaging….3. Do not use a ‘lite’ game for your exploration – the game should be involving and model a complexly immersive situation, environment, challenges.
Include screen shots (yours or found online) to support your claims or observations, and please reference the articles to deepen your exploration of what/how people learn with and through games/serious play.
Here is a list of things to look for…
Learning Principles: “Features of games with high learning potential” / James Gee identifies several ‘good’ Learning Principles (one of our readings) that he sees in ‘good’ video games and that can be applied to good teaching and learning generally.
Role Taking: Who or What are you within the game? What kinds of role-play opportunities are presented, ways of inhabiting an identity and performing a related practice/talent? What language, new vocabularies and discourse practices are ‘in play’?
‘Know-How’ & ‘Know That’: Are embodied practices part of the game challenge (know how: performing a set of competences or a practice) and/or topical content knowledge (know that: embedded knowledge about something – like historical facts, specialized languages, geography)? How is knowledge, facts, discourse practices or complex meaning situated within the game (see Gee, ‘situated meaning’) – what and how do people learn through play?
Transferability? Is the know-how or knowledge (or learning) transferable to other practices, settings, challenges (outside of formal game boundaries)?
Critical Framing: Does the game represent or mis/represent people (gender stereotypes, race/ethnicity) or promote certain perspectives? Does the game communicate ideological perspectives or values? (see more on that below if you want to do option 2).
Option 2: Critical Game Analysis (Cultural Studies Mode)
For this production, take the role of cultural studies theorist and critically analyze a game or video-game series. This production connects with the New London Group’s concept of critical framing (see below).
Consider the following (not a rubric – just an framework to think with and through). The checklist articulates some aspects of the What of Representation, the How of Representation, and the Who: Who has the power to Represent oneself or others.
‘Reading’ the Game: What can be interpreted – or theorized – about the game as a cultural artefact, a pedagogical-ideological system, or commercial system that frames a kind of world? How do game mechanics work within that context/world to communicate, procedurally. And what ‘values are in play’ are discernible at the level of design?
Representation: What/how/who does the game ‘represent’ (or misrepresent or exclude) (vis a vis socioeconomic status/class, ableism and disability, gender and sexuality, race and cultural identity, representations of violence or misogyny, etc?
What forms of living – what kinds of worlds and what types of values – are structured (or subverted) by the game? What kinds of hidden curriculum are discernible through critique of the game system? Power-Plays: How does the game narrative and ‘interface’ with questions of identity, gender, race, economics and class, modes of consumption/consumer culture, etc?
Identity: What/who are we embodying? What world(s) or virtual realities are being framed, represented, procedurally scripted (or subverted)? What types of (virtual) identities – or discourse tools for identity (de)construction – are in play?
Modes of Address: Who are you ‘called’ to be or positioned to do?
Critical Framing: Interpreting the social and cultural context of particular Designs of meaning. This involves the students’ standing back from what they are studying and viewing it critically in relation to its context.
The goal of Critical Framing is….conscious control and understanding…in relation to the historical, social, cultural, political, ideological, and value-centered relations of particular systems of knowledge and social practice [and cultural artifacts like video games]. Here, crucially, the teacher must help learners to denaturalize and ‘make strange’ again what they have learned and mastered…
…Through critical framing, learners can gain the necessary personal and theoretical [critical] distance from what they have learned, constructively critique it, account for its cultural location, creatively extend and apply it, and eventually innovate on their own, within old communities and in new ones. This is the basis for Transformed Practice.
It also represents one sort of transfer of learning, and one area where evaluation can begin to assess learners and, primarily, the learning processes in which they have been operating.”
– A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies (1996)