Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
a process of trial and error. Usually, a player can
improve his or her performance quantitatively
(by, for example, making decisions faster) or
qualitatively (by modifying playing strategies).
Conceiving and testing strategies is often a fun-
damental aspect of game playing:
in genuine scientific inquiry, the authors were
also concerned with general information literacy,
because they recognized scientific argumentation
as a literacy skill. Among practices that consti-
tute game play, they include collecting data in
the world, creating instruments to collect data,
using spreadsheets to analyze data and conceive
models, arguing over data collection methods and
developing assertions based on data.
Games can engage players by establishing as-
sociations to the real world and to issues relevant
to them, as well as by asking them to inhabit roles
that allow them to see themselves as active par-
ticipants in the game and encourage competition,
collaboration and reflexion-in-action. Besides, to
help games appeal to the imagination, a narrative is
often employed. Given that knowledge is contex-
tual and experience-based, narrative contexts can
help students gain an experimental understanding
of notions that might otherwise remain abstract.
Thus, librarians who intend to use digital games
as educational tools must pay attention to several
aspects. When playing, students are actors in an
activity instead of passive recipients of informa-
tion, and if games are to be played in informal
contexts, players will often control when and how
much they play (whereas in library instruction
classes students are expected to learn all at the
same pace). Therefore, the narrative and the task
must be challenging, drawing on themes that elicit
engagement from students. The roles available
shall invite them to explore the virtual world in
new and interesting ways. Moreover, it is neces-
sary to consider the social nature of game play,
because games often elicit social interactions, as
already mentioned above.
Malone and Lepper (as cited in Schaller, 2006)
composed a list of key characteristics a learning
game should have: challenge, control, fantasy, and
curiosity. Challenge is created by clear, fixed goals
that are relevant to the learner. Whereas success in
accomplishing activities should promote feelings
of competence for the gamer, uncertain outcomes
provide challenge by offering variable difficulty
As part of developing efficient and effective solu-
tions, players are customarily expected to research
various game strategies and tactics by consulting
on- and offline manuals, databases, and discus-
sions, as well as by using such knowledge as the
basis for in-game action. (p. 531)
Prensky (2003) considers there is great value
in letting players, within the world of the game,
try things, form beliefs, and test and revise them,
employing the same procedure scientists use in
the real world. Besides, Steinkuehler and Duncan
(2008) also show individuals collaborate to solve
complex problems within the virtual world. Mar-
key et al. (2008) corroborates this idea regarding
information literacy games, arguing that although
students want to be in control during game play,
they will collaborate with their peers when the
collaboration makes their goal more easily achiev-
able. The development of collaboration skills is
also important for information literacy because,
according to Valenza (2006), information seek-
ing is often a social activity and peers may play
a significant role as collaborators on that process.
Students have greater success in their research
when they can discuss their progress and their
difficulties with others who can fill gaps in their
Many other simulation-based games allow
players to interact with complex systems and
test hypotheses. Squire and Jan (2007) provide
one example through the use of an augmented
reality game, that is, a game played in the real
world with the support of digital devices (PDAs
or cellphones) that create a fictional layer on top
of the real world context. Although the project
was specifically conceived to immerse students
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