I use to think....
When it came to games and simulations, I used to think that games where just what others did to “waste time,” I was wrong! I knew simulations could be of value to education but had not an idea of the role that games can play in that venue. My extent of gaming was board games that we had a cabinet full of that we broke out on Tuesday or Saturday nights for family fun. The funny thing about it was I could not imagine it becoming a part of my pedagogy for teaching. My children came along in the video game era and they had every early video game that was available for young children. I spent lots of funds on making sure they had the new hot game or system that was on the market. So all my children enjoy and spend their expendable adult funds on their enjoyment with playing video games. My youngest son even participates in national competitions and attend conferences. They have had handheld systems as well as console systems. They have played on the computer, their phones and portable devices. I on the other hand played none.
Now I think....
What has this class done for me was open up my mind and educate me on the value of games and how they can impact learning. Not only for children but adults of any age. It has taught me a clear understanding of what is meant by “play” and why it is so important in a cultured society. I have broadened my horizon and appreciation of what games and simulations can do to add to and enrich the learning experience. Because of this class, I have read articles by: Jenkins (20ll), Gee (2011), Read (2011), McLeod (2012), Warren, et al. (2011), Dondlinger (2011), Aarseth (2001), McClarty (2012), Clark (2009), Rosa (2003), Crawford (1997), Rieber (1998), Schein (1993), and Clark (1987). These are a small sampling of the articles I have read and Youtube videos that I have watched along with the introduction to the video gaming itself. Some articles where assigned others where read out of personal research and need to know. I have tried to play the following games: Game Star Mechanic, The Sims, World of War, Spiderman PS4, Mario, Zelda, Minion Rush, Warcraft, and Candy Crush. You can see my samplings are broad and varied. The instructor suggested, and others out of curiosity. I have found the value in gaming for people of my age bracket, senior citizens, as a tool for increasing cognitive skills. Who would have guessed? Surely not I, but am so glad I have discovered it. It has set me on a quest to see how many others are missing this vital tool to ward off Alzheimer's disease and help keep the mind and body alert. The benefits far outweigh any negative comment that is generated against the joys and fun of gaming. A TED Talk by McGonigal “Gaming can make a better world;” shows how gaming can increase world peace by teaching us to urgent optimism, social fabric, blissful productivity, and epic meanings. It can super-empower us and help develop a hopeful individual. That’s a powerful tool if it can do all of that.
So where does it bring me today? I’ve learned that games are an integral part of how we learn, and they help us to stick with the learning until we master the task. It helps us to focus our attention on a task until we can get it done or master it. It helps to release good natural endorphins. If we can find the Magic Circle of a game and get into the Flow of the game success would be ours.
Games and simulations can help us teach many different types of learners and pull in the slow or non -responsive learner. It is the educational tool that can be used in many ways, to teach, to reinforce, to review, to engage. Also, I have gained a new appreciation of what it takes to create and develop a game or simulation in order to bring it to market. Untold man hours of testing, improving, and re-evaluating how the game works must be done. It’s not something that is done in a matter of days or even weeks. A good game will take years to develop before it can go to market. Computer games have many lines of code to create the graphics and the way the player can move through the game. What I have discovered is the abundance of research that has been done in the last ten years pertaining to games and its value to helping us learn. The book we used to help instruct us on the value and principles of games by Salen and Zimmerman opened a new understanding of games’ history and its impact on current times and learning.
I realized that this is a part of my social skills that have been lacking and I am enjoying taking advantage to learn and perfect the skills needed to game. It’s work; but fun! That’s what it should be.
Aarseth, E. (2001). Computer game studies, year one. The International Journal of Computer Game Research.
Clark, A. C., & Ernst, J. (2009). Gaming research for technology education. Journal of STEM Education, 25-30.
Crawford, C., & Peabody, S. (2000). The Art of Computer Game Design. Vancouver.
Dondlinger, M. J., & Wilson, D. A. (2012). Creating an alternate reality: Critical, creative, and empathic thinking generated in the Global Village Playground capston experience. Journal of Thinking Skills and Creativity, 153-164.
Gee, J. P. (2011, March 23). How learners can be on top of their game: An interview with James Paul Gee. (H. Jenkins, Interviewer)
McClarty, K. L., Orr, A., & Frey, P. M. (2012). A literature review of gaming in education. Pearson.
McLeod, J., Vasinda, S., & Dondlinger, M. (2012). Conceptual visibility and virtual dynamics in technology-scaffolded learning environments for conceptural knowledge of mathematics. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 283-310.
Read, J. L., & Stephen, M. S. (2011, April 27). Interactice games to promote behavior change in prevention and treatment. JAMA, p. 2011.
Rieber, L., Smith, L., & Noah, D. (2018, August 28). The value of serious play. Retrieved from Educational Technology Publications, Inc.: https://www.jstor.org/stable/44428195
Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of play: Games design fundamentals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
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.