Production 6

Production 6: Learning Principles Auto-Ethnography

This production requires you to play a ‘good game’, dedicate some time to playing, and then reflect upon play using Gee’s article/video (as well as the article by Malone, if and when relevant to your play, exploration, and findings).

First, this means selecting and playing the kind of ‘good game’ Gee is talking about in terms of ‘good tools’ (see Gee’s video) or ‘well-designed’ problem spaces (Malone).  It can be an online MMORPG; a console-based game or a game-like Minecraft (sandbox, exploratory,  world-building); or a simulation-based game or a competitive game that requires skilled practice. Minecraft might be a good ‘default’ game if you are not an avid digital game player.

You will have to spend time, however, in the game environment, exploring the environment, and playing (in whatever way the game supports varieties of play).

Second, after you have explored the game environment, and played the game, connect your game play to the readings (retroactively), though you should take ‘field notes’ now and then and document your experiences using screen grabs or video capture. Some games have built-in camera or video tools.

For the post-play essay, you need to examine how you played, how you learned, and how your mode(s) of play and engagement enacted or in some way spoke to some of Gee’s ‘learning principles’ (many of which are articulated in the Malone article). This is not about examining the educational ‘outcomes’ of games, (e.g., ‘I learned certain facts, or gained some ‘content’ knowledge’, though if ‘incidental learning’ emerged in relation to play, that is fine to note, too). Rather, I am more interested in 1) how you experienced autonomous play in the game you selected and 2) how the play experience connects to ‘good learning’ or  learning a ‘skilled practice’.


  • Essay should clearly connect the dots between your play experiences and the readings/video (i.e., speak to  at least 4 or 5, or more, of Gee’s many principles. Be clear in your description of how your play links with or expresses Gee’s (or Malone’s) themes about good learning, or vice-versa, how Gee’s principles speak to your play. If you make your own discoveries vis a vis play in ‘good games’, include those as well!
  • In a concluding paragraph, provide some reflection on implications for what ‘good learning’ means or might look like — in or outside of actual games OR explore how you might apply ‘lessons’ from your game auto-ethnography to your final game project.
  • Documentation: Include at least 2-to-3 (min) screen shots (or 1-2 video capture posted to Youtube) of your game play experience and describe how the image fits into the larger discussion about learning.