Before studying INF541, my use and understanding of games and game-based learning was limited and I had little inclination to use it in my teaching. The unit has helped me to develop a reflective and nuanced view of game-based learning that has allowed me to understand how it can be implemented to aid learning.
The initial step was understanding the principles that contribute to a good game. Depending on the framework, the principles of digital-games vary but generally consist of escapism, fun, individual or social interaction, sound, secrets, guessing, anticipation, winning, losing, rules and objectives (Perrotta, Featherstone, Ashton, & Houghton, 2013; Turkay, Hoffman, Kinzer, Chantes, & Vicari, 2014; Wood, Griffiths, Chappell, & Davies, 2004). After finding a framework that resonates, I found it useful to research how different games make use of these principles, before finally moving on to designing games with an understanding of why you are using certain design features.
In reflecting on what games can bring to education, Bronwyn Stuckey’s presentation helped to develop my understanding. Stuckey argued that games shouldn’t be used to teach but as an “invitation to tinker” and to reflect on a concept. Digital-games giving learners the freedom to play and explore was a concept that was reiterated throughout the course. That freedom to explore, gave students agency and the freedom to fail and try again gave them confidence to try new things.
The course has helped me to appreciate that digital-games can (and often should) be based on a wider array of learning theories than just behaviourism. Amy’s forum post of Errant Signal’s critique of gamification was a helpful starting point in understanding that game principles cannot just be thrown against any problem to provide improved learning. The temptation of relying on behaviouristic approaches to motivate users can be counterproductive to learning as the users only focus on winning the game (Furdu, Tomozei, & Kose, 2017). However, as Carleen and Mitchell commented in the forum, this is a negative perspective of gamification and when the principles are utilised correctly, they can benefit learning through motivation (Dicheva, Dichev, Agre, & Angelova, 2015). This use of arbitrary rewards to persuade players to do something that is not in players’ best interest was raised a number of times in my research for INF541, in this Extra Credits video, the narrator summarises that by understanding the tricks used by game developers you should be better able to spot them and avoid falling in to the traps, thereby improving your gaming experience. For me, this warning was an important lesson that players will know (either implicitly or explicitly) when something is not fun and that gaming principles are being used to exploit them.
INF5410 introduced me to the concept of remediation, the depiction of one medium in another. Once I was aware of remediation, I was aware of it everywhere. The game I chose for my game-review, Simulacra, heavily relied on remediating the plot devices from horror films through a faux-mobile phone experience. I was excited by the prospect of remediation of Amy’s and Mitchell’s game projects. I utilised remediation in my final game project remediating television news, digital currency and social media apps.
One aspect of game-based learning that I would like to study further is the accessibility and inclusiveness of games. Attempting to play Ingress highlighted to me the difficulties of playing certain games (even for a fit, middle-class, white male). Although every student will experience games differently, they all should be able to play the game and explore the concept the teacher is trying to convey (Dodge et al., 2008). Part of my future studies will be exploring how games can be made accessible to students.
Prior to INF541, I considered game-based learning to be interesting but not something that I would ever use. The course has shown me how beneficial digital game-based learning can be. I have learned how game-design principles and desired learning outcomes can be combined using the wide-range of game creation tools to create exciting learning opportunities.
Dicheva, D., Dichev, C., Agre, G., & Angelova, G. (2015). Gamification in education: a systematic mapping study. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 18(3), 75.
Dodge, T., Barab, S., Stuckey, B., Warren, S., Heiselt, C., & Stein, R. (2008). Children’s sense of self: Learning and meaning in the digital age. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 19(2), 225.
Furdu, I., Tomozei, C., & Kose, U. (2017). Pros and cons gamification and gaming in classroom. ArXiv Preprint ArXiv:1708.09337.
Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Ashton, H., & Houghton, E. (2013). Game-based Learning: Latest Evidence and Future Directions (NFER Research Programme: Innovation in Education). Slough: NFER. Retrieved from https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/GAME01/GAME01_home.cfm
Turkay, S., Hoffman, D., Kinzer, C. K., Chantes, P., & Vicari, C. (2014). Toward Understanding the Potential of Games for Learning: Learning Theory, Game Design Characteristics, and Situating Video Games in Classrooms. Computers in the Schools, 31(1–2), 2–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/07380569.2014.890879
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. https://doi.org/10.1089/109493104322820057