Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
game style and genre, the market is embracing a
diverse range of player motivations. The numbers
found in the ESA surveys will continue to shift as
the games industry evolves in inclusivity.
The interest in gaming for educational pur-
poses has also increased over the last decade,
with researchers identifying key pedagogical
features that make good video games inherently
strong learning tools. What underlies the allure of
games? As educational game researcher James Gee
(2003) asks how do good game designers manage
to get new players to learn their long, complex,
and difficult games. A well-designed game entices
players into the “reality” of the game world and
keeps them there until the goals of the game have
been met (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004). Gee points
out that incorporating appropriate challenges that
are “doable,” and other widely accepted effective
learning principles that are supported by research
in cognitive science, are in fact a large part of
what makes good video games motivating and
entertaining (Gee, 2004).
James Gee (2007) has narrowed down the list
of pedagogical strengths to thirteen principles that
link good games to good learning, emphasizing
the areas of learning empowerment, problem
solving, and understanding. High-quality games
cycle players through new content, encouraging
the player to try different ways of learning and
thinking (Gee, 2003). A well-designed game
doesn't distinguish between learning and playing,
rather, players refine and add to their skill sets as
the game progresses (Gee, 2004). When a player is
successful in-game, the game expertise is linked to
'expert' behaviors such as self-monitoring, pattern
recognition, high-level problem recognition and
solving, principled decision-making, qualitative
thinking, and superior use of both short and long
term memory (VanDeventer & White, 2002).
Popular video games like World of Warcraft
emphasize cooperation and leadership rather
than individual competition for the highest score
(typical of arcade games, for example). These
video games reward creative problem solving,
multitasking, collaboration, experimentation, and
stimulate the creation of models (Steinkuehler,
2004). The instant feedback and risk-free envi-
ronment invite exploration and experimentation,
stimulating curiosity, discovery learning and
perseverance (Kirriemuir, 2002). Learning how
to learn becomes an essential skill and the speed
and dexterity developed playing video games
becomes an added-value. Social skills are also
important: to be a guild master in a game like World
of Warcraft , a player needs to be able to create a
vision, recruit and inspire people, and organize
the group's strategy. And while the game industry
has recognized and embraced such learning fun-
damentals, weaving them into design to increase
value to the player, educational institutions have
yet to fully recognize and integrate these models.
From another standpoint, the methodology of
Open and Distance Learning (ODL) is now widely
based on the e-learning model, a technology-based
model that has emerged as a serious contender to
help support the learning needs of individuals in
this day and age. According to Klopfer (2008),
“e-learning itself can mean many things to many
people and at its core simply means electroni-
cally supported learning, which can be online, on
desktop PCs, or even on mobile devices (though
the latter is sometimes referred to as m-learning ).
In practice e-learning often means delivery of in-
formation and content to learners through online
hypertext, accompanied by images, audio, and
video. But e-learning can mean much more, as
evidenced by the recent surge of interest in using
video games to teach everything from basic math
skills for young learners to advanced communi-
cation skills for adults.“ (p. 8). For students, the
major motivation for enrolling in distance educa-
tion is not the technology or the network access
capability, but the freedom that allows students
to move through a course of studies at a time and
pace of their choice (Anderson, 2008). Today,
improvements in the processing power of mobile
computers combined with networked media ap-
plications provide a tremendous opportunity for
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