Pacman gameplay (1:40) Hosted on YouTube
My exposure to the world of video games began with reading Karl Kapp’s The Gamification of Learning and Instruction at the beginning of the semester. Kapp’s position was that the design of learning and instruction should shift to using game mechanics to “…situate learners in authentic environments where they can practice their skills and gain immediate feedback on progress and accomplishments…” (Kapp, 2012, p. xxii). This was my position also, that the mechanics that make games engaging could be used to create engaging learning experiences for learners of all age groups. My position was situated in a naïve view that learning designers could more expertly unpack game mechanics and repack them into carefully crafted, pedagogically sound learning experiences than game designers. Perhaps this response was because I grew up in a generation in which arcade games were emerging but not seen as a serious form of play (Zyda, 2005, p.25). I played sport and loved competition, but computer games did not rank high in my leisure activities. I trained for half marathons, raised children and studied and studied and worked. Meanwhile my children played Snake, The Legend of Zelda: Ocrina of time, Final Fantasy (all versions), Call of Duty and Assassins Creed.
As my journey continued in the course, it was in Module Three that I encountered the rise and evolution of the video game and gameworlds as I watched the YouTube series Rise of the Video Game. I was so absorbed in the evolution of video games, genres, features, platforms and communities that I watched all five videos in the series in one sitting. A new respect for the evolution and pervasiveness of videogames and their capacity to immerse players in often ‘…long, complex, and difficult…’ gameplay emerged (Gee, 2004, p.16). I downloaded Minecraft and played this sandbox game and was challenged by the spatial skills I needed to navigate a world that I was creating. I had already played Rovio’s Angry Birds and Zynga’s Words with Friends. I downloaded the running app Zombies run! and exercised. As part of this course I also downloaded Google’s Ingress and enrolled as part of the Enlightment movement capturing portals.
Ingress – It’s time to move (1:40) Hosted on YouTube
I was intrigued by the simplicity of the arcade game Pong’s three instructions:
- Deposit quarter
- Ball will serve automatically
- Avoid missing ball for high score.
(Pomeroy, 2001, http://pongmuseum.com/history/avoidmissingballforhighscore.php)
Games and game complexity had come a long way.
Reading James Paul Gee I came to understand that “…good game designers are practical theoreticians of learning…” and “… the designers of many good games have hit on profoundly good methods…” of making learning enjoyable and engaging (Gee, 2004, pp.15-16). Well designed games provide players with the opportunity to become active agents in their learning and play, customise the game play to suit their individual styles of learning and play and manipulate the game environments (Gee, 2004, p.18). Good game design also presents players with well designed problems which increase in complexity as players progress through levels (Gee, 2004, p.19; McGonigal, 2011, p.13). Responsive learning design at its best!
I discovered that the US Army invested $45,000,00 in funding the development of simulations and games like America’s Army to recruit and train the twentieth-first century soldier (Discovery Channel, 2012, https://youtu.be/TJ8E1pdIflg) I also read in the local papers how the Australian Defence Force was searching for the next generation soldier on game gaming websites (Deutrom, 2015). Games were more than synthetic worlds to socialise and play in. I saw the powerful real world application of them for training and recruitment.
At the end of this journey, video games and game based learning have become for me the definition of what it means to learn, create, collaborate and connect in the twenty-first century.
Deutrom, R. (2015, March 24). Call of duty: Real-life diggers. Courier Mail, pp. 1, 6.
Discovery Channel. (2012). Rise of the video game. Level 3. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/TJ8E1pdIflg
Gee, J.P. (2004). Learning by design: Good video games as learning machines. Interactive Educational Multimedia, 8, 15-23. Retrieved from http://www.ub.es/multimedia/iem
Google. (2013). Ingress – It’s time to move. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss-Z-QjFUio
Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: Game-based methods and strategies for training and education. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer
McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. New York: The Penguin Press.
Pomeroy, A. (2001). Avoid missing ball for high score. Retrieved from http://pongmuseum.com/history/avoidmissingballforhighscore.php
Six to Start & Alderman, Naomi. Zombies, run! https://www.zombiesrungame.com
Winter, D. (1996-2013). Welcome to PONG-Story. Retrieved from http://www.pong-story.com/intro.htm
Angry Birds. (2009). Rovio Entertainment, Chimera Entertainment (Developer) Rovio Entertainment, Activision, LucasArts, Chillingo (Publishers)
America’s Army. (2002). Michael Zyda (designer, Unites States Army, Sega Studios SanFrancisco (Developers) Unite States Army, Ubisoft (Publishrs)
Assassin’s Creed. Ubisoft, Gameloft, Griptonite Games, Ubisoft Blue (Developers) Unisfot, gameloft, Akella (Publishers)
Call of Duty. (2004). Treyarch, Nokia, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer games (Developers) Activison, Nokia, 1C Company, Activison Blizzard (Publishers)
Final Fantasy. (1987). Square Enix (developers) Hironobu Sakaguchi (Creator)
Ingress. (2012). Niantic Labs & Google (Developer)
The Legend of Zelda: Ocrina of Time. (2011). Nintendo (Publisher) Nintendo, Grezzo, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development, Nintendo EAD Tokyo (Developers)
Minecraft. (2009). Mojang, 4J Studios (Developers) Mojan, Sony Comnpuer Entertainment, Microsoft Studios (Publishers)
Pong. (1972). Atari (Devloper/Publisher)
Snake. (1998). Nokia
Words with friends. (2009). Zynga (Developers)
Zombies, run! (2012). Six to Start with Naomi Alderman and Rebecca Kevene (Developers).