games and learning

Wednesday, January 12th, 2005

Now here’s the stuff I’ve been looking for. In a prior comment, Christopher writes

I think herein lies the problem for a teacher looking to use the interactive narrative. Children are now conditioned to full visual immersion along with reflexive twitching to accomplish their task, the games promoting instinctual rather than cognitive responses. How can I compete against a visual cornucopia?

Students would already rather play with their Nintendo DS than listen to a teacher. How to then make my own work more interesting than playing the Sims or Everquest when they are given time at the computer?

So where do I start? Steve had posted a comment about the Cybernetic Teacher. Would that be enough to hold a student’s interest? I think it might work for a college student, especially one who was older than the fresh out of high school student.

Those entering college today have always known computers and gaming systems and have short attention spans that crave visual stimulus and immediate gratification.

I’d suggest that such a comment begin a long discussion on the veracity of the fundamental notion: how to use the “environment” to teach specific notions in the disciplines. Coonce-Ewing may be questioning the concept, but I think the comparitive reflex is flawed. Is the question one of competing influence? The learning vs. the gaming?

Partly, Coonce-Ewing digs into the nature of the contemporary student, a complex question because it draws us into asking what amounts to a metaquestion: what was the medieval student like vs. the contemporary student in terms of their learning conditioning? My disagreement comes here. I don’t agree that the modern student lacks an attention span. I’d suggest that their attention spans are neither lacking nor weakened by the influence of tech. There have always been distractions and bad habits to overcome.

Here’s another question that goes back to the problem of environment: how can we build environments that don’t compete with the PS2 but infuse a digital space with possible learning potential much as a game might. For the student, the reaction should not be “this isn’t enough like Kingdom Hearts,” it should be “wow, what’s in that box that I need to get into the King’s tomb.”

PS. How does the point of shift when we remember that even “now” kids (growing with computers as basic appliances) have also, like their elders, always had schools and classrooms?

Christopher writes

Children are now conditioned to full visual immersion along with reflexive twitching to accomplish their task, the games promoting instinctual rather than cognitive responses.

I wonder if this is true in general (this is why ludology is necessary too). Don’t most games still involve problem solving to guide the response? John and I will be dealing with this issue in terms of Deus Ex on the big screen in room 201 today if anyone would like to join us. 2pm, I think.


2 responses to “games and learning”

  1. Christopher says:

    While some games involve puzzles, the most popular games (GTA, Tony Hawk, Madden Football) either don’t have any or it’s a matter of using reflex skills to unlock a hidden feature (can you hit xa L1 while also pulling back on the directional stick).

    The modern student not only has most likely always had a computer but they have cellphones with cameras and video screens, allowing them to play games between or even during classes.

    I’m debating adding images to my next IF work. One one hand I have the thought that it might lead to a more interesting narrative. On the other, I look at it as being similar to adding pictures to a work of literature, something not to be done.

  2. gibb says:

    “On the other, I look at it as being similar to adding pictures to a work of literature, something not to be done.” —

    Why not? Blake did it, as did so many of that time period and back through the centuries.

    As an aside, perhaps my problem with gaming right now is due to the lack of experience and quick reflexive manipulation that others much younger have practiced since they were three years old. On the other hand, I can add up large numbers in my head. Schooling affects personal progress and the reverse is true as well–so maybe it is time for computerized methods of classwork, particularly gaming methods and maneuvers which are more natural to younger generations than using a pen and pencil.