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.
Sitting in my ICTAG (Information Communications Technology Action Group) meeting this afternoon, I heard a complaint:
“… but the kids are still playing games!”
My school has been 1-1 with Macbooks for the last five or so years and teachers’ general perception is that games are a distraction or a reward for work finished early.
“Can’t games build critical thinking and collaboration skills? Isn’t this something that we should encourage?” I said.
My remark was taken purely as jest.
I think that says a lot about the state of Game-Based Learning (GBL) in my current educational context.
It’s difficult for school leaders to put stock in something that’s relatively murky in terms of its research and application.
Dr. Catherine Beavis’ assertion that “schools still have a way to go before they can harness the full educational potential of video games” (Jennings, 2014, para. 5) resonates within this context.
I believe in its potential because I feel like I’ve learned from games. I’ve thought critically while building up my armies in Sid Meier’s Civilisation. I’ve communicated while playing diplomacy. Heck, I’ll even admit to collaborating and communicating to take out some zombies in Call of Duty… But like Beavis, I don’t think games are currently being used to their potential within the educational context.
Once recognised as a tool to develop twenty-first century skills, GBL should be more adopted into the classroom. The YouTube video “How games prepare you for life – Education: 21st Century Skills” makes a solid point where it argues that it’ll be up to teachers to make knowledge and skills acquired from the games meaningful.
So what is the context for my learning?
In a regional Victorian setting, I’m the curriculum head of Humanities and Technology at my secondary school and I feel as though I’m often at the forefront adopting technology into the classroom.
This is my third last subject for this Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) and on account of that, I’m bringing knowledge of twenty-first century pedagogy and it’s importance in today’s classroom.
How do I see games fitting into my practice?
I’ve already incorporated games into my classroom over the years with varying degrees of success. Admittedly, at times it seemed to be a more willy-nilly application than calculated, planned usage. It was more used as a tool of engagement rather than consciously building twenty-first century skills. The latter is something that I’m obviously hoping to improve upon.
What are my personal aims in this subject
I’m hoping this subject serves as a launching pad into more considered use of games in the classroom. I wish to engage with the research that supports this type of learning and thereby equips me with the data to justify a more widespread promotion/adoption of GBL at my school.
I’m also looking to explore different games and their platforms.
What challenges are you hoping to meet for yourself?
Successfully completing a Masters’ subject while working full time and juggling a busy family schedule is always a great starting point for semester goals. In addition, I wish to
- Challenge myself to be fully immersed within this subject; allotting time to experiment and play with games
- Conduct action research within my setting that will add to the professional dialogue surrounding GBL
- Expand my professional learning network to include GBL innovators and practitioners
Extra Credits. (2014). Extra Credits – How Games Prepare You for Life – Education: 21st Century Skills. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hoeAmqwvyY
Jennings, J. (2014, November 20). ‘Teachers re-evaluate value of video games’ [Digital Newspaper Article], The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141110-11jw0i