Video games may not be the solution to educational problems, but they are an excellent tool to help educate and train young minds. This week’s readings the authors, Salen and Zimmerman, (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004) discussed in chapters 11, 12, and 13 how the rules of games have an effect on the enjoyment and understanding of how they function. A detailed analysis of some popular games gave insight into how the rules and strategy of the game help the players understand the goals and outcomes when playing. Rules help create the structure of the game. The rules are the component that makes it a game. Without rules, the game has no structure. They define games as being separate from real-world which separated them from ordinary life. Listed in Chapter 11 where the six characteristics that distinguish a game.
The video TEDTalk with McGonigal contained information that gave a deeper perception of how the act of playing games can add to the coping skills of society. Since gaming beyond board games is so new to me, there were many perceptions that I had not given any thought of the impact that playing video games can have on individual growth, coping and learning skills. I checked out two YouTube videos that gave additional insight into the challenges that games provide for the young mind: Games for Change 2018 Festival (https://youtu.be/1O8F2GgrfU4) and #GameOn-88 Seconds of Video Games (https://youtu.be/pWZtbfBGjIg). Both of these videos added some insight on how involved and wide-spread this arena of learning has grown in the last twenty years. Out of this growth, there are two really good educator resources that I found: Digital Games Handbook for Teachers by Patrick Felicia, Guide to Digital Games & Learning by J. Shapiro Game Educator’s Handbook by they were loaded in information that would be helpful to any educator. Both of these sources would be helpful in the planning of incorporating digital games into the learning environment and adding additional pedagogy to the experience.
Several strategies (Fradkin, 2017) that I found during my search that can help to integrate games into any learning experience were:
Allow students to name their teams;
Let them create a storyline to accompany why they are on a particular quest;
Build excitement before the games begin;
If it’s a new game that students have never played give them a chance to get familiar with the rules and game pieces within the game. (be it the board or digital);
If it’s a digital game allow them to view the video short of the game.
Computer game playing will enhance spatial skills, so find ways for them to show that they have a clear understanding of that skill by how they play the game and maneuver the components. Allow students to discuss and show their ability to read images, such as pictures and diagrams. Gaming allows teachers freedom of movement while the student is playing to monitor how well they keep track of a lot of different components of the game at the same time. (Gros, 2007)
Review the objectives of the game;
Ask students to answer questions about the game;
Ask students to relate their experiences while playing;
Link the game experience to related learning objectives and real-life experience;
Discuss what they learned while playing the game.
Create pointed questions that answer questions about the scene where the game takes place;
Discuss the goal of the game and identify the main characters and their role in the game;
Have students identify the challenges faced by the main character;
Have students identify what it would take to be successful in this game; what weapons, tools or items the character has use of to pursue their quest; and
Who is the antagonist and protagonist in the game? (Felicia, 2018)
Felicia, P. (2018, September 24). Digital games in schools: A handbook for teachers. Retrieved from Digital Games: http://games.eun.org/upload/gis_handbook_en.pdf
Fradkin, A. (2017, April 3). How to roll out game-based learning and boost engagement--In your classroom. Retrieved from Technology in School: https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-04-03-how-to-roll-out-game-based-learning-and-boost-engagement-in-your-classroom
Gros, B. (2007). Digital games in education: The design of games-based learning environments. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 23-38.
Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of play: Games design fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
I’ve chosen to review Spider-Man PS4, produces Insomniac Games. My daughter recently purchased the game, and we have spent the last few nights playing it late into the early morning. Not a good look for getting up the next day for work, but I have found this to be a remarkably well-organized game as far as its design and playability. I did more watching others play than actually playing myself. The views of Manhattan are so realistic its as if you are actually flying over the city yourself with old Spidey. If you have ever been to New York, you can easily identify landmarks and look across the water to see New Jersey. The character’s appearance reminds of the movie Beowulf that was done in CGI (Computer-generated imagery) which was also used in parts of the Hobbit for Gollum, Star Wars for Yoda and the Hulk’s exaggerated muscles in The Hulk. The realism was unsurpassed in any CGI I have ever seen. As I know very little about other superhero games, this one captured me and drew me in as I observed my daughter and her friend manipulate the characters through fight scenes and interactions with other characters in the game. I even tried my hand at the controls. The game system console made a remarkable visual impression with its bright red color with the Spiderman logo on top.The items I focused on, just because of what I have learned recently about games and their development, was the little items around Peter Parker's apartment; the way the street scenes appeared and how smooth the transition from flying through the city to having an active and aggressive fight scene. No stops just a smooth move from one aspect of the game scene to the next aspect of the game.
I’m sure as the game is viewed by more users they may find some weaknesses or disadvantages in how it was designed but as a newbie, I can’t see any. My daughter and her friend describe this game as raising the bar on all other video games, and even with my limited game experience I wholeheartedly agree. Check out reviews from such game reviewers as ScreenRant, IGN, and GamesRadar the commits where all strong and positive. The features of the game are amazing, and every character has their own motivations that are easily identified by the game player. Business Insider list five ways PlayStation 4’s Spider-Man games raise the bar for all other video games. (Smith, 2018)
It was easy for me to identify some of the system interactions in this game even with my limited knowledge of games. I had never heard of “Magic Circle” as it relates to games, but only as it related to crocheting. The authors define the magic circle as it relates to games is where the game takes place. When you play a game, you are entering the “magic circle.” Salen and Zimmerman (2004) described it as a physical component of a game like the game board or the playing field. I definitely felt that way as I played Spider-Man PS4 almost, otherworldly as if I had been transported into in an alternate reality. I definitely felt a lusory attitude as I became more involved in the many ins and outs of the game.
Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of play: Games design fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Smith, D. (2018, September 6). The new Spider-Man game raises the bar for all other video games. Retrieved from Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/spider-man-ps4-review-marvel-playstation-4-2018-9
There are several differences between games and simulations as listed by Gredler (Gredler, 1992) and Sauve, et al (2007) these are the basic attributes of games:
For symbolic simulations the chapter listed two types laboratory research (students function as researchers) and system simulations (they function as trouble shooters to analyze, diagnose and correct operational faults in the system).
While reviewing simulation games such as the Sims and World of Warcraft I found some unique differences that made me enjoy the adventures in WoW a lot more than the situations of the Sims. In WoW I really enjoyed the personification of the animals and the story line. The gaming cinematography was highly engaging. While the characters and images in Sims did not appeal to me on any level and the stories did not interest me. The ability to design your character on this elementary type level did not appeal to me either. As I was researching I would a list of Twelve Types of Computer Games Every Gamer Should Know by Jane Hurst (2015). It helped me with the many acronyms that are used in this arena as well as to better understand the jargon. Here is the list:
I spend several hours researching other games and found that the ones I enjoyed most where those associated with some type of adventure simulation; Sword Art on Line was one and the Legends of Zelda. As a science teacher I know the value of classroom simulations for dissecting and understanding anatomy and physiology. There are many interactive simulations that are sold for science from elementary to college level course work. You can find Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) where students can learn real-world situations where they can drill basic concepts to simulating work in a laboratory setting.
These types of simulations can help students to translate from multiple scenarios, build digitally controlled working models, create chemical reactions, and serve as a vehicle for collaborative learning situations.
Arthur, D., Malone, S., & Nir, O. (2002). Optimal overbooking. The UMAP Journal, 283-300.
Goldenberg, D., Andrusyszyn, M., & Iwasiw, C. (2005). The effect of classroom simulation on nursing students' self-efficacy related to health teaching. Journal of Nursing Education, 310-314.
Gredler, M. E. (1992). Games and simulations and their relationship to learning. In M. E. Gredler, Designing and evaluating games and simulations (pp. 517-581). Kogan Page Ltd.
Sauve, L., Renaud, L., Kaufman, D., & Marquis, J.-S. (2007). Distinguishing between games and simulations: A systematic review. Educational Technology & Society, 247-256.
Shaffer, D. W., Squire, K. B., Halverson, R., & Gee, J. P. (2018, September 11). Video games and the future of learning. Retrieved from http:www.academiccolab.org/resources/gappspaper1.pdf.
How did I feel?
Everything has changed since my initial experience with Gamestar Mechanic. First, I feel a little more confident as I moved through the quests. But since I am not a seasoned gamer each level was a real contest for me in many ways. Becoming familiar with how to play each quests and learning new skills as I moved forward gave me insight on how games can progress and teach. It was a challenge but I have learned to embrace it and not let it intimidate me. After spending a lot of time trying to move through the quests I decided to look up some information on older adults who have gaming experiences.
What did I learn?
Because I have never played very many video games, not even ones on my smart phone, this gaming experience was similar to a babe learning through small baby steps. Each challenge taught me a new usable skill that I could see helping me to conquer learning how to game. Once I stopped fighting with myself and just relaxed the process was most rewarding and enjoyable. My determination now is to find the game that will motivate me to spend many hours learning to maneuver through the varied skill levels. I realized it’s about the journey not the conquest. So that’s what I did. I tried to learn the new skills that were being taught and tried to figure out how they would benefit me later in some other game.
I found out so much information as it related to young learners I decided to see what gaming could do for older learners over the age of 60. I found a Pandora’s Box of information on research studies conducted on older learners. The first article I came across was titled “Video games for elderly people: keep your brain young.” Which was a simple blog about the effects of gaming on helping older senior citizens increase their cognitive skills. The second dealt with the benefits of gaming on older minds called “Games keep you young.” The third was a study done by Jung, et al (Jung, Li, Janissa, Gladys, & Lee, 2009) where their research dealt with the effects of Wii games on older individuals perceptual and cognitive abilities. I read about five different articles that I have listed in my references below and they all helped to convince me that this is definitely something I want to learn and learn well for my own well-being. (Clark, Lanphear, & Riddick, 1987), (Drew & Waters, 1986) (McFadden, Whitman, & Connor, 2016) (Soong, 2018)
Clark, J. E., Lanphear, A. K., & Riddick, C. C. (1987). The effects of videograme playing on the response selection processing of elderly adults. Journal of Gerontology, 82-85.
Drew, B., & Waters, J. (1986). Video games: Utilization of a noval strategy to improve perceptual motor skills and cognitive functioning in the non-institutionalized elderly. Cognitive Rehabilitation, 26-31.
Jung, Y., Li, K., Janissa, N. S., Gladys, W. L., & Lee, K. M. (2009). Games for a better life: Effects of playing Wii games on the well-being of seniors in a long-term care facility. Proceedings of the Sixth Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment. Sydney, Australia: ACM Digital Library.
McFadden, C., Whitman, J., & Connor, T. (2016, February 17). Can brain games keep aging minds young? There's an app for that, says scientists. Retrieved from Today: https://www.today.com/health/can-brain-games-keep-aging-minds-young-there-s-app-t73811
Soong, J. (2018, September 5). Are video games the new fountain of youth? Retrieved from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/games-to-keep-you-young#1
Reflecting on past experiences with a “meaningful play” required a few deep remembrances. My family often spent long hours playing board games and cards. My specialty was board games, such as scrabble, monopoly, checkers, and dominos. One very bad experience in my high school years was learning a very difficult card game that my mother would not let me quit until I learned how to play. To this day I still am not a favorite of card games.
Later in life, my children became obsessed with playing video games because of their step-father. He would take them to the arcades and spend loads of money on playing arcade games. I hated the cost, but the children loved it. So in the early years of Atari, Nintendo, PacMan, Mario, and later Play Station, they were totally indoctrinated. Much to my dismay, I never seem to get involved on any level. It felt akin to wasting time.
Nevertheless, as they grew and gaming became a part of our culture, they feel right in. Competing in competitions and going to conferences. Never did I see me as wanting to become a part of this culture.
Then, here I am, taking a class on gaming. What an irony! Since beginning this class, I’ve perused some background research efforts to try to get a handle on the world of gaming. Reading one of my favorite research theorist Vygotsky’s take on play and learning and doing additional research on Kurt Lewin’s (Schein, 2003) theories it has given means a deeper understanding of the value of this type of high-level inactive play. While I was not looking gaming has developed into a learning tool for all students, young and old. Just from the brief moments that I spent trying to educate myself on how games motivate and trigger skills of higher-level thinking that I was not aware. The challenge of figuring out the strategies used in the game and then to manipulate the objects to outmaneuver the game was a difficult task. No gaming dexterity. Moving arrows and pressing a key to do two different things simultaneously was next to impossible, but with persistence, it was done. It was very difficult for me to master, and still, the frustration levels were so high I had a tension headache that lasted for hours. I have been reluctant to go back to meet the challenge but I must.
As a child, I played many of the childhood games and pretend characters that most children played and had great fun with all of them. But I never transitioned to the gaming arena. The reading from the National Institute of Play (National Institute of Play, 2018) the section on The Game Design Sequence, Chapter Five, (Crawford & Peabody, 2018) I see there is a lot that can is learned from gaming. Practice is what is needed to help me develop the skills needed to become a gamer that enjoys the challenge of a good game. I have been advised by family members and articles that I have read that if I find the right game, it won’t be a problem for me to be absorbed in the game. That remains to be seen.
Crawford, C., & Peabody, S. (2018, August 29). The Art of Computer Game Design. Retrieved from What is a Game?: https://www.digitpress.com/library/books/book_art_of_computer_game_design.pdf
National Institute of Play. (2018, September 3). National Institue of Play. Retrieved from The Science of Play: http://www.nifplay.org>
Schein, E. H. (2003). Kurt Lewin's change theory in the field and in the classroom: Notes toward a model of managed learning. Semantic Scholar.
Nona M. Batiste is a forty-year experienced public school teacher who has taught in both New Orleans Public Schools and Dallas Independent School District. She holds a B.S. in Education from Southern University of Baton Rouge, LA and a Master of Science Teaching (MST) from Loyola University of New Orleans, LA. Ms. Batiste has taught Environmental Science and General Science to middle school and high school students. She has been active in both school districts as a master teacher and workshop presenter.