For the most part, we live in a country of gamers. The Digital Australia Report (2016) identifies that both “68% of Australians play video games” and that “98% of homes with children have computer games”(p. 5). This data shouldn’t be perceived as isolated but a reflection of current global trends (Horizon Report, 2014, p.38). Educators have sought to capitalise on this boom and increasingly seeking ways to incorporate Game Based Learning (GBL) into their classrooms. The question remains, are they fully aware of the implications and effects GBL?
King, Delfabbro and Griffiths (2010) expand upon research that identified a link between the structural elements shared between gambling machines and video games. They modified a framework initiated by Wood et al. (2004) and “reorganis[ed] some features into new categories as well as suggest[ed] additional features in light of recent theory and research findings”(King, Delfabbro and Griffiths, 2010, p. 92). They include the following features social, manipulation and control, narration and identity, reward and punishment and presentation (King, Delfabbro and Griffiths, 2010, p. 92).
King et al., (2010) main line of argumentation calls researchers to understand the potential psychological effects that games can induce while highlighting both positive and negative reactions. Their framework hopes to aid further research in this area. The next section of this post will seek to highlight some of the positive impacts and hazards for teaching and learning.
In terms of teaching and learning, the social features of games mimic much of what building a personal learning network encapsulates. King asserts that a cooperative and competitive community of players can assist players in knowledge acquisition(p. 93).
The manipulation and control feature highlights the importance of self-management. While gamers can learn master the game they also need to be mindful of when it’s time to save and quit. King et al., (2010) note that excessive game players have difficulty stopping playing when their resources are low (p. 96) This is likened to when gambling addicts play too long and lose their money.
This extended play seems to be a reoccurring theme in terms of both positive impacts and hazards for teaching and learning. While with the narrative and identity features allow players to be immersed in their game’s story(p. 97), propelling students to greater depths understanding of the subjects’ themes and characters, the rewards and punishment features clearly link to gambling’s near misses and achievement points that excite players into continuing to play long past when they should quit (p. 100).
The noteworthy concerns raised by King et al., (2010) should be heeded by educators that are planning to explore GBL. Without giving careful consideration to the potential psychological impacts of the structural features of games, educators are making this important decision with a few cards short of a full hand.
Brand, E, J. & Todhunter, S. (2016). “Digital Australia Report 2016”. Retrieved from http://www.igea.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Digital-Australia-2016-DA16-Final.pdf
King, D., Delfabbro, P., & Griffiths, M. (2010). Video Game Structural Characteristics: A New Psychological Taxonomy. International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction, 8(1), 90–106. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-009-9206-4
NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2014-k-12-edition/
Wood, R. T. A., Griffiths, M. D., Chappell, D., & Davies, M. N. O. (2004). The structural characteristics of video games: A psycho-structural analysis. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7, 1–10. doi:10.1089/109493104322820057.