I attempted to explore Minecraft using the iPad version and did not make much progress. My lack of game literacy was laid bare as I tapped away and tried to make sense of the game without any instructions. I felt somewhat inadequate knowing that young children all over the world knew so much more than I did about this game. I watched some tutorials but even they assumed a certain amount of knowledge. I wanted to call on my nieces for help but time was against me as work and study took up more of my time. My Minecraft lesson will have to wait a few more weeks.
The following video looks at how Minecraft can be used in education.
The negative aspects of video games have tended to dominate popular media reports over the years with video games blamed for violence, obesity, injuries, addiction and aggressive behaviour in young people (Bourgonjon, 2011). Such media messages are hard for parents to ignore and are similar to the moral panic caused by the introduction of television. It is not surprising that some parents are dubious about game based learning being used in schools.
I agree with Bourgonjon (2011) that involving parents in the implementation of game based learning would be advantageous and help to address parental concerns. Strategies could include:
Parent information evening
Game workshops for parents
Documenting game based learning with photographs and videos and communicating them through the school’s social media channels and/or newsletters
Game based learning section on the school website or learning management system
Teachers may also share some negative opinions of game based learning. Strategies to overcome these could include:
Observing other teachers using game based learning
Disseminating literature and research about game based learning
Sharing videos of teachers in other schools using game based learning
Good communication with all members of the school community is vital when introducing any new pedagogical approach.
I am familiar with web communities in general but because I do not play digital games I had never encountered game related communities. Interest-driven sites or affinity spaces are where players go to engage further with the game (Gee, 2012). These affinity spaces include forums, wikis, cheats, videos, reviews, fan-fiction, mods and social media.
Affinity spaces offer powerful opportunities for learning, Gee argues, because they are sustained by common endeavors that bridge differences—age, class, race, gender, and educational level—and because people can participate in various ways according to their skills and interests, because they depend on peer-to-peer teaching with each participant constantly motivated to acquire new knowledge or refine their existing skills, and because they allow each participant to feel like an expert while tapping the expertise of others. (Jenkins, Weigel, Clinton & Robinson, 2009)
I have curated two Pearltrees boards to illustrate these communities and the enormous amount of time and effort players go to to expand upon their game experience, learn more about their chosen games and help others.
As an individual and an information professional I relate to this kind of information seeking behaviour. After I watch a film or read a book I often want to learn more and delve deeper into the themes, location and setting by reading reviews and forum postings. I am a consumer and have not become an active participant or creator by contributing to such spaces. I admire the passion that many game players have to contribute to such knowledge networks.
Gee, J. P. (2012). Digital games and libraries. Knowledge Quest, 41(1), 60-64.
Henry Jenkins , R. P., Margaret Weigel, Katie Clinton, Alice Robinson. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from https://www.macfound.org/media/article_pdfs/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF
I enjoy reading fiction in my leisure time because it is relaxing and allows me to leave my ordinary world behind and enter another. I empathise with characters, learn new things and experience a range of emotions through language and narrative. When I am immersed in an enthralling storyline nothing else matters. Reading is mostly a solitary activity for me but can also be social through discussions of books with family and friends either face-to-face or online.
While reading the article The structural characteristics of video games: a psycho-structural analysis (Wood, Griffiths, Chappell & Davies, 2004) it struck me that game players enjoy video games for many of the same reasons that I enjoy reading fiction. According to the article the following psychological features contribute to the enjoyment of games:
ability to enter a fantasy world and escape from our ordinary lives
losing track of time when playing
impact on our mood, emotions and arousal levels
These psychological features sound very familiar to me as a fiction reader and help me to understand why games are such a compelling leisure activity for so many people.
I spoke to three mature digital game players (40 years plus) about the features of digital games that were important to them. Two played various games on Facebook such as Candy Crush, Farmville and Criminal Case and the other played chess online against other people. The chess player was competitive and wanted to achieve a high ranking, while the other two said competing or interacting with/against friends was most important to them. This illustrates the importance of the social side of games that Wood, Griffiths, Chappell & Davies allude to in the aforementioned article (2004). Realistic sound was a high ranking feature in their study, closely followed by graphics. Neither of these characteristics were deemed important to the three players I spoke to. Interestingly the two players of Facebook games mute the sound when they play as they find it annoying (and I would suggest unrealistic). All three said games were an enjoyable leisure time activity that they experienced daily if they had the time, just like I do with my reading.
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), 1-10. doi:10.1089/109493104322820057