State of play

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Those who play video games discover that failure can be a common theme. Because it's a game, it doesn't really matter. Gamers can constantly reiterate moves and decisions to try to reach the next, higher level. Often, a move has to be repeated many times before a solution is found and the gamer can legitimately move to the next stage of the game. This aligns neatly to the idea that we can learn through failure. In this way, learning for gamers is a journey from novice to expert.

Game based learning should be one of the most important strategies for 21st Century education, but there is resistance from certain quarters. Humans have enjoyed playing games since time immemorial, and are hard-wired to do so. Now in the age of technology, we have opportunities our ancestors could not even dream of. Video arcade games such as Asteroids and Space Invaders of the 1970s were just the start of the rise to prominence of digital games. They were simplistic, but none the less compelling, and players like me spent hours honing their dexterity and hand-eye coordination.

As video games developed, so emerged a realisation that they could be designed to educate. In the last few years, through the development of handheld controls such as the Nintendo Wii, 3D screens (e.g. Nintendo 3DS) and non-touch gestural and voice controls (Microsoft's XBox 360 Kinect) games have become increasingly captivating, and have an immersive quality. Go further, and the visor equipped games in recent years have taken immersive experiences to another level. Games, whether digital or analogue, handheld or immersive, have the capability to motivate, challenging players to improve their dexterity, problem solving and reasoning skills, encourage teamwork and collaboration. 

Teachers who appropriate games into classrooms and learning contexts need to do so carefully, but once implemented, and with the game integrated into learning, we discover that they have a huge role to play in 21st Century learning. As Mark Grundel argues: 'Creativity, problem solving, critical and analytical thinking, decision making, risk taking, all (are) found in game-based learning.'

How long will it be before educators accept that games based learning is a legitimate pedagogy and not a waste of time?

Creative Commons License
State of play by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


David Andrew said…
Maybe the issue is in your casual use of the word carefully Do we know enough about the nature of immersion to be clear about when and how to engage it for good quality learning Some immersion leads to metacognition and learning at an appropriate level, other leads to trial and error learning, and the closing down of learning. Do e know enough to design for the effective use of gamification?
Steve Wheeler said…
Really David, 'casual'? Not a good start. There is plenty of evidence to indicate that deep and meaningful learning can occur when games are applied 'appropriately' and 'in context' (like that better?) See for example the work of James Paul Gee or Nichola Whitton. You should know also, that I wasn't referring to gamification in my post. The theme was on game based learning. The two should not be confused.

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