How Computer Games Help Children Learn – Chapter 1

Shaffer, D. (2006). How Computer Games Help Children Learn. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

The Debating Game described in Chapter 1 exposed many familiar aspects of games, but also raised issues that require further consideration:

  • Rules define games (and play) and yet “what matters is presenting an interpretation and defending it” (which seems identical with Bloom’s evaluation level). This dichotomy and the need for authenticity suggests that writing the rules is the most difficult aspect of game creation.
  • Some roles make players care about winning; other roles make players care about self-efficacy. Because roles (and thus end-states) differ, rules vary with roles. This role-rule pairing (actually multiple pairings) create the narrative, another difficult task for the game creator.
  • We play out our real life situations in game roles and rules, and yet fantasy seems a key motivational element in most games (and especially the idea that in games, we can do things we can’t do in real life).
  • The definition of epistemic games as requiring “you to think in a particular way about the world” seems at odds with rules, unless the rule is to think like an historian (like an economist, etc.) which makes writing rules even more difficult.

The characterization of school as a game to teach you how to think like a factory worker suddenly made standardized tests make sense.

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