Game Development Reference
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laborative, leading to the creation of mechanisms
through which infusion experiences and other rich
learning contexts may support activity in novel
situations (Shaffer, 2004). In addition, it is now
recognized that student emotional expressions are
a part of the learning process and also an essential
component of basic education, a fact that contin-
ues to be a minor concern in schools and higher
education. There is a growing body of evidence
from the neurosciences and the cognitive sciences
that recognizes the importance of emotions in
cognitive processes and memory operations. The
Portuguese born neuroscientist António Damásio
developed a theory of emotion that has evolved
from his first book, Descartes' Error: Emotion,
Reason and the Human Brain (1994), which ex-
plains how feelings are entangled in the cogitations
of the brain and the circumstances of the body. In
his second book, The Feeling of What Happens:
Body and Emotion in the Making of Conscious-
ness (1999), Damásio further explores the role of
emotion. He attempts to connect the neurology
of emotion to the neurology of consciousness
and extends this to the existence of a sense of
self. Essentially, Damásio states that mind and
body are inseparable and integrated via mutually
interactive biochemical and neural components,
such as the endocrine, immune, and autonomic
neural constituents, which produce chemical and
electrical transmitters.
As a rule, freedom of choice, challenge, partici-
pation, transparency, integrity, collaboration, fun,
speed, and innovation must be a part of students'
learning experiences. Playing games may be an
important part of learning as this generation's
game-playing experiences are more widespread
than the game-playing experiences of previous
generations. No doubt technology is transforming
the ways we learn today but the most widely ac-
cepted theories and models behind learning are still
valid. For instance, the pedagogical framework
for implementing new software tools, games and
simulations in the context of Open and Distance
Learning (ODL) can be developed by drawing
on concepts from: constructivism (Bruner, 1966;
Piaget, 1973), social constructivism (Vygotsky,
1978), situated cognition (Brown, Collins, &
Duguid, 1989; Barab & Kirschner, 2001), and com-
munities of practice (Wenger et al., 2002). Social
constructivism in the Vygostkyan way provides
a series of principles that may be accomplished
during the development of educational activities.
The Piagetan notion of constructivism is at the
core and it basically means that students modify
their current knowledge schemes to integrate new
information and acquire new knowledge when in
contact with teachers, peers and the surrounding
environment. In addition, learning activities must
be situated in authentic settings and in a context that
is meaningful to each individual student, and may
increase in effectiveness when students are part
of community that shares values and contributes
to a common objective. Constructivism, situated
learning, and the establishment of communities of
practice constitute a robust theoretical framework
for knowledge acquisition based on the notion
that learning occurs in the context of activities
that typically involve a problem or task, other
persons, and an environment or shared culture.
A recent Educause Center for Applied Research
(ECAR) survey of undergraduate technology used
in the United States reports that 82.2% of under-
graduates own a computer, with 80.5% owning a
laptop. Web-enabled or smart phones are owned
by 66.1% of undergraduate students, though not
all use the features due to cost. Over 85% of stu-
dents surveyed report using network resources
for activities such as accessing social networking
sites, playing online multiuser computer games,
or accessing virtual worlds (Salaway & Caruso,
2008). Video game use has become a more diverse
and popular form of entertainment than it was a
decade ago. Games are not just for children, as
nearly half (49%) of players are between the ages
of 18 and 49. The gender divide in gamers has also
greatly narrowed, with males making up 57% of
online game players, and women at 43% (ESA,
2008). With the emergence of greater variety in
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