Game Development Reference
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literacy skills to a population that seems at ease
with technology and perfectly capable of satisfying
its informational needs through the Web? Today's
students seem faster at processing information
than the previous generations, acting sometimes
as authorities in all areas involving technology.
In fact, Prensky (2006) calls them digital natives ,
because they grew up in a world where computer
games, e-mail correspondence, instant messaging
and other digital tools are commonly used, and
thus developed patterns of engagement different
from those of earlier generations.
However, familiarity with technology does not
necessarily imply sophistication in its use. In spite
of the popular belief that teenagers and young
adults are technologically savvy, Valenza (2006)
claims that today's young information seekers
lack advanced skills or knowledge necessary to
explore complex information environments and
to properly evaluate the information they find;
students show a limited understanding of the
way information is organized, tend to use natural
language instead of promising keywords when
searching databases and have a manifest difficulty
in identifying information needs in systems that
require specific terminology in search interfaces.
Calhoun (2006) seems to have the same opin-
ion, declaring students favor search engines with
simple interfaces, like Google's, instead of aca-
demic databases that might yield more satisfying
results. Both this author and Valenza (2006) also
describe students' apparent lack of concern with
the quality of their sources, noting they spend more
time searching than analyzing their results on the
computer screen. Besides, they accept as good
enough materials that many information profes-
sionals would not deem satisfactory. Nevertheless,
the lack of understanding of search environments
and an incomplete knowledge about the potential
and limitations of Web resources often leads to
feelings of frustration with less than effective
approaches.
A recent report of findings from respondents
to a survey carried out among college students in
the United States of America as part of Project
Information Literacy (Head & Eisenberg, 2009)
corroborated these findings and added that students
seem to conceptualize information seeking as a
competency learned by rote and fail to harness
the wide range of resources available to them in
the digital age.
Educators must recognize that technological
innovations brought significant social and cultural
changes that manifest themselves in schools and
universities. However, although grappling with
technology has usually ludic aspects, is not enough
to ensure certain aspects of student's preparation
for the future. Given that several studies point to
the pervasiveness of computer games in today's
society (e.g., Lenhart, Kahne, Middaugh, Macgill,
Evans, & Vitak, 2008; Kirriemuir, 2008; Kir-
riemuir & McFarlane, 2004), it makes sense to
analyze their pedagogical potential and value as
educational tools.
Kirriemuir and McFarlane (2004) state that
the terms computer game and video game used to
refer to PC-based games and console-based games
respectively, but are now used interchangeably.
Generally, these authors define a digital game as
one that “provides some visual digital informa-
tion or substance to one or more players”, “takes
some input from the players”, “processes the input
according to a set of programmed game rules”,
and “alters the digital information provided to the
players” (p. 6). This definition includes games that
operate on different platforms: personal comput-
ers, mobile devices, and hardware known as video
game consoles.
Although some educators may regard computer
games as a waste of time, Gee (2003) considers
this is a complex field whose potential is better
perceived by gamers, so they must not be quickly
judged. This author argues that playing computer
games involves skills related to learning and game
designers often use learning techniques identified
and considered important by cognitive scientists.
In fact, complex computer games require players
to master a great deal of information in order to
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