March 23

Games and pop culture: Reflection 2.2

The art of video games… my gut feel is that as games become more obviously sophisticated and more inextricably a part of our modern culture, fewer people would question the fact that they are in fact an art form.

Chris Melissinos who is the guest curator of “The Art of Video Games,” an exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum that celebrates 40 years of the genre, from Pac-Man to Minecraft, makes the point that the combined voices of video games move this media into the realm of art. The 3 voices he refers to are:

  1. The designer or artist, is the person/s who builds the story or environment
  2. The game, is the mechanics and rules which communicate how to interact
  3. The players, who explore and experiment in the game, transforming into directly into an art form.

Melissinos makes an interesting observation that early games have been remediated into the new games. He explains how the old have been used to create the more modern games.The jungle scene of the early game Pitfall has been transformed into the  more complex jungle scenes of Raiders of the lost ark, while still using the same mechanics of the original Pitfall. He references how the art style used in Marble Madness to create the illusion of a world with depth, has been used in many modern games to create the 3D effect. (Melissinos, C. 2012)

Modern video games are an integral part of pop culture and they have harnessed the voices of the games to create art.


Tucker, A. (2012,March). The art of video games. Smithsonian magazine. Retrieved from

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March 22

The Fun theory: Reflection module 2.1

The Volkswagen advertising campaign is interesting on so many levels.

Firstly as an approach to selling an environmentally friendly car, it is an interesting approach. Instead of selling the car they have chosen to focus on the thinking behind changing human behaviour and then subtly add the information about the car.

However on another level it just shows how the theory of fun can be used to change behaviour.

All 3 experiments presented show how game factors are used to influence behaviour.

The major factor in all 3 experiments is the use of fun.  Adding this element to a mundane activity makes people smile and makes the mundane activity, be it climbing stairs or putting litter in a bin, attractive.

But there are other obvious game factors at play!

The sounds used on the staircase allow the activity to become creative. You notice how people experiment with the sounds, enjoy the novelty and start to interact with others. There is no win or lose element but just the anticipation of what the next sound will be.

The bin used the concept of developing anticipation. People didn’t know what sound they would receive on depositing their litter. Anything novel and not completely predictable seems to be attractive.

The Bottle bank experiment, on the other hand, has the classic game factors of accumulating points, and an element of winning, supported by sound effects and a bit of guessing.

Gamifying these activities creates new variations on routine activities.

VW are using the hook of the social experiments to attract readers to their website where they take the opportunity to tell them about the car. The social involvement in the blog and the competition, resulting from the gaming experience( The FUN Theory) draws people into the more traditional literacy of offering text based information.

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March 22

Can you think of another example? Reflection 2.1

Talking about remediation and storytelling, we saw a video which used Source filmmaker to make a short “episode” from Team Fortriss 11. In this scene the engineer makes a gadget, spy comes and destroys it, he remakes and improves it, spy destroys it…etc. But eventually engineer designs gadget which when spy tries to destroy, it explodes and stops spy in his tracks.

Retrieved from:

Can you think of any other book, film or other media which attempts to tell a similar story?

 I am sure there are many examples but the one that comes to mind first is, Looney Tunes Wile E Coyote & The Road Runner. There are many little stories showing Wile Coyote trying to capture the Road Runner but he is outsmarted at every turn. A good example is the “Vicious cycles episode”

Retrieved from




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March 19

Blog task#2 How might games be used to develop a more socially inclusive classroom?

One aspect of children’s enjoyment of playing games, is related to Gee’s principle that game players are immersed in an affinity group were learners constitute a group bonded through shared endeavours, goals, and practices.

Good games incorporate learning principles which are highly relevant to 21 century pedagogy (Gee 2005). My job is not simply delivering the content and facts required, I need to prepare students to be active, positive members of a variety of communities by developing a range of social skills, most of which have been identified by James Gee as the learning principles which good games incorporate. Games have the potential to develop the social skills which  are neglected in our obsession with content and facts and build socially inclusive learning spaces.

Modern technology and recent developments in online gaming have led to games which engage massive groups and develop communities. These virtual environments are highly social, collaborative and spaces where age, race, gender and social class, all the usual divisive factors, are seldom apparent. According to Hall, by allowing learning through games and with peers, we can strengthen ideas of friendship when striving to achieve a common goal. (Hall 2010)

A good game is a powerful communication tool, students learn to interact and develop relationships, learning to value and better understand social interaction. “In a massive multiplayer game, players work in teams where each member contributes his or her distinctive skills. The core knowledge needed to play the game is now distributed among a set of real people ” (Gee, 2005, p 37) Playing in teams where characters often have different skill sets teaches how to coordinate and understand the importance of different types of affiliations. Direct interaction in the digital world can augment face-to-face interaction. Engaging students in important purposeful interactions with diverse others is a way to expand the horizons of education by expanding interpersonal and inter-cultural understanding. (Daiute, 2013)

Games lead to social interaction. Those with expertise gain social status among their peers enhancing self- esteem. Considering the variety of learning styles, games offer opportunity for different students to shine. Encouraged risk taking, and the idea that “failure is good” (Gee 2005) promotes social acceptance and a healthier attitude to learning. Using qualitative research and interviews, Tapscott (1998) shows how children are empowered by new technology. Online interactions – including email, chat, gaming and multi-user domains (MUDs) – are ‘laboratories for the construction of identity’, as Turkle (1995: 194) puts it.

To harness the potential for a socially inclusive classroom, there are some important considerations for achieving success.

  • Set them up for success.

We must consider how we set up our students’ entries into virtual worlds. When talking about the successful use of technology in education, we are reminded  that, “novelty does not equal effective educational scaffolding…and that virtual spaces require a heightened awareness of scaffolding techniques. ( Moore, K., & Pflugfelder, E. H. (2010).

  • Facilitate ownership

Encourage  students to ‘buy in’ by offering choices allowing them to “become committed to the new virtual world” (Gee 2005, p 34)

  • Broaden the horizons

Invite outsiders in. Broaden the scope for social inclusion, encourage experts, invite peers and open up the potential for cultural exchange.

Games definitely have the potential to develop my classroom into a socially inclusive learning space which prepares students for the real world


Daiute, C (2013). Educational Uses of the Digital World for Human Development. LEARNing Landscapes, Vol. 6, No. 2, Spring 2013, 63-85

Gee, J.P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum,  85(2), 33-37.

Hall, R. (2010). The Magic of Online Games. International Society for Technology in Education: Eugene.

Heim, J. and B. P. B. and K. B. H. and E. T. and T. L. (2007). Children’s usage of media technologies and psychosocial factors. New Media & Society, 9(3), 425–454.

Miller, C. T. (2008). Games: Purpose and potential in education. Springer Science & Business Media.

Moore, K., & Pflugfelder, E. H. (2010). On being bored and lost (in virtuality)Learning, Media and Technology, 35(2), 249–253.


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March 12

Reflect 1.1 What are the challenges you are aware of for playing games in your classroom? What are the behaviours you want to encourage and discourage?

The challenges in incorporating games into my classroom are many… however most can be overcome with better selection, planning and a deliberate and conscious awareness of the required outcomes. It is about moving out of our- (me and the students’) comfort zone!

Firstly, I need to describe my context. I teach in a Trade College, which delivers a QCE( year 11&12 Queensland Certificate of Education) while students are also either seeking or participating in a trade or traineeship. All students have their own laptop and in English, essentially everything is done on computer, they don’t have books to write in at all. The curriculum I teach is the recognised senior English Communication program. It is very skills based with little or no emphasis on content- which is great! However, given the structure of our program, I have the students for 4 weeks every term, they then spend the other +- 6 weeks at work. So a course which would normally be delivered in a regular 10 week tern elsewhere is delivered in 4 weeks here.

So the obvious challenge is time! Any task I choose needs to really deliver “bang for my buck” I don’t have time to mess around with games for the sake of fun…

I need to select games which can’t be too long and which deliver the outcomes I am aiming for. If I incorporate a game, it is usually in lieu of or by sacrificing some other activity. So this is where the selection of the game becomes vital. I need to know exactly what I am trying to achieve and then find a game which can deliver that in a relatively short time frame.

Another challenge I face is considering my audience and their strengths and weaknesses. Generally speaking my students have been disengaged or disenfranchised by regular education so there are often big gaps in their learning, general knowledge and literacy levels. Games need to be suitable for their age group but not be too complex or text heavy so that they disengage. I quite often end up using games which are directed at a younger audience because they are suitable for their literacy levels but then sometimes the content is quite young and has the potential to make them feel “dumb”

So in summary my challenges are:

  • Finding the right game for the audience and context
  • Having the time to use the game as more than just an add on but rather to encourage rich learning

I want to:

  • Encourage curiosity and engagement
  • Promote deeper thinking and consideration of topics and issues
  • Collaboration, especially beyond their immediate community
  • Expose them to the wider world- beyond their fairly limited experience

The behaviours I want to dissuade are:

  • Time wasting
  • Self doubt
  • Fear of taking risks or failing
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March 5

Are digital games being overlooked in the education reform? Blog Task 1

In short, the answer to the question, “Are digital games being overlooked in education reform?” is, yes. Games seem to have so many obvious benefits for preparing young people for the 21st century but yet the time to adoption seems to be very slow.

I was trained to believe that my role was solely to impart knowledge. Traditionally teachers were considered the holders of knowledge, and that knowledge was a distinct set of “correct” facts which the teacher imparted to the students. (Woods, 2014).  Technology has changed society. The job of educators has changed and perhaps we are now more learning managers than teachers. Learning should not just involve those “correct facts” anymore, learning should be about those 21st century and employability skills.

Games have the potential to prepare students for the rapidly changing world. We have seen how highly motivating games can be, we just need to find ways to incorporate that into education. Part of the challenge is overcoming the perception that games don’t teach anything and have nothing of value to offer. Digital games, as opposed to traditional games enable the player to alter the world around them and their situation in it. (Becker, 2011) In order to achieve this successfully, the player is using and developing the ability to communicate and collaborate, they are problem solving, learning to persevere when trying to “level up”, and developing enhanced knowledge acquisition skills. This is rich learning which can genuinely prepare students for success in society.

As games and gaming appear to have arrived on the educational-technology agenda, how do you see them fitting into your practice?

Despite all the research and information out there to support the use of games, teachers and administration are skeptical. We need to overcome the stigma perpetuated by the media that games have a negative influence on our students. We unfortunately have to be concerned about standardised testing, time constraints, timetables, and outdated requirements and expectations from governing bodies. As Jesse Schell says in the Big Think presentation, Playing games in the Classroom,”playing games is a powerful tool but they don’t fit well into our education system”.

What is the context of your learning?

Teaching in a trade college, my audience are young people who are completing their year 12 while seeking or participating in an apprenticeship. Hence the benefit of developing those employability skills through games is hugely attractive

What are your personal aims in this subject?

I NEED to learn to play and understand digital games, I need to become familiar with the terminology and the practice. I can’t use them effectively until I have actively engaged myself.

What challenges are you hoping to meet for yourself?

The reason that I have overlooked games is that I don’t have the knowledge or the confidence to use them.  Donahoo says, “Inspiring or convincing teachers of the benefit of digital games is easy but we need to guide them to resources that will help them understand how to implement it in meaningful ways” (Donahoo,2013)

I NEED to up-skill myself so that I have the confidence to use games to prepare my students better, for the real world


Becker, K. (2011). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education. In Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications

Donahoo, D (2013). NMC Red Archive. Retrieved from

EF Explore America. (2012, March 15)What is 21st century learning [Video file]. Retrieved from

Schell, J, Playing games in the classroom. Retrieved  from

Woods, N. (2014). Describing discourse: A practical guide to discourse analysis. USA: Routledge.

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March 5

Reflection 1.2 Communicating the use of games in learning

(a) How will you communicate to colleagues, parents and students what you mean by game-based learning? Write a short statement that outlines your own approach to game-based learning which sets out your approach using key words and phrases which help focus the reader on your use of games in learning.

Society has changed and as a result so have the children in our classroom. Young people are far less patient, being used to and demanding instant feedback and constant gratification. They don’t have to wait for their favourite show to appear in the TV Guide, all they do is download or stream it when they want and where they want. Education has failed to keep pace with this changing culture. We are too often still stuck in a style of education designed to prepare the population for the industrial revolution.

In the 21st century student need to learn a different set of skills. According to The Partnership for 21st century Learning, the key skills and knowledge students need to succeed in work life and citizenship are:

  • Content knowledge and 21st century themes- including global awareness, health and financial literacy, environmental and civic literacy
  • Learning and Innovation skills- including creativity and innovation, problem solving and critical thinking and communication and collaboration
  • Information and media technology skills
  • Life and career skills- including flexibility, initiative, socio and cross cultural skills, productivity and accountability and finally leadership

Games can go a long way to motivating and engaging students because they are the discourse of this generation. Games give rise to people who explore, collaborate and communicate, they give them concrete experience of problem solving in a self-guided and supportive environment. In games failure is okay, it’s part of the learning process.

James Gee (Retrieved from: explains the concept that, “Comprehension is grounded in perceptual simulations that prepare agents for action” ( Bassoult,1999, p77)  He says that humans understand something by being able to run a simulation of images in their head. The problem with current learning is we give the students the information without giving them the experience to enable comprehension. He likens it to giving students the manual without giving them the game.

Games are good for learners because they are interactive, they put the learner in control, they can simulate complex situations and operations and they provide the instant feedback this generation demands.

Reflection 1.2 (b)

What are you hoping to do with games in your teaching space in the near future?

I am beginning to realise the vast potential of games in the learning space, which to date I have largely neglected. I have dabbled with games of the quiz sort but not really for any rich or meaningful learning. I have very strict limitations about what I can do regarding curriculum, as do most teachers, so my starting point will have to be to research possible games, consider their application and then approach leadership with some informed suggestions. I will need to have all my ducks in a row if I am to be able to implement big changes and this may take time and persistence. So in the meantime on a smaller scale, I believe I could use maybe gamify the learning process, maybe still do the content and curriculum in the “usual” way but maybe using Class Dojo, to encourage participation, positive behaviour and engagement.  Its early days, not sure yet!

Gee, J. Retrieved from:

P21 Partnership for 21st century learning, 2011. Framework for 21st century learning. Retrieved from

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