games and teaching/oops! learning

One of the hot issues these days is games and education, using games to teach (sort of like using stories to teach, hm, what, narrative?) and teaching with games. Subtle distinctions? Using games to teach and teaching with games. Are these similar statements?

Games are immersive by “nature” (they want us “inside”). Therefore, they encourage virtual spaces that grab and keep you. Games have a power of immersion that teachers would love to capture in the classroom, having students so engrossed in the “moment” of the subject that they just can’t help but leave jazzed and “filled” with so much about Shakespeare that their tongues drip with sonnet honey.

Lots of games exist that are themselves “learning” environments with a specific goal: teaching physics, for example. Yet all games involve environments and codes and surfaces that demand learning or that must be learned. In games we learn because we have to. There are some games that I can’t stand: certain games that are so complex, like Wadjet, that I spend much of the time at the table amazed at my dumbness. I like fast, kinetic games where cards are slapped around and fingers bleed, gladitorial stuff. Yet, as far as PC games go, I immerse myself in the adventures.

We live in these worlds anyway. Is the classroom not just another form of virtuality?

3 thoughts on “games and teaching/oops! learning

  1. gibb

    You make me worry when you talk crazy like this. No, the classroom is real. Games are not. But they can work well together.

  2. Christopher

    Ah so this tells me that Susan hasn’t taken the red pill yet.

    I had a chance to talk with Steve and JGT today about games/narratives/teaching and it was some pretty interesting stuff that I hope to build upon in my future as a teacher.

    As for games I prefer board games where strategy is involved (Risk, Stratego, Chess) and these days seem drawn to the FirstPersonShooter genre on PC.

    Time to get back to focusing on IF.

  3. john

    Games. Hmmm, let’s see…
    “A competitive activity or sport in which players contend with each other according to a set of rules.”


    “An active interest or pursuit, especially one involving competitive engagement or adherence to rules.”

    (from Janet Murray)
    Games are cultural artifacts:
    Games reflect and shape our values.
    Games embody and transmit culturally significant patterns of behavior and patterns of meaning.
    Games are part of our survival kit, our adaptive behaviors.
    Games reflect good and bad aspects of human culture, just as stories, paintings, history does.

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