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What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy

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Abstract

Good computer and video games like System Shock 2, Deus Ex, Pikmin, Rise of Nations, Neverwinter Nights, and Xenosaga: Episode 1 are learning machines. They get themselves learned and learned well, so that they get played long and hard by a great many people. This is how they and their designers survive and perpetuate themselves. If a game cannot be learned and even mastered at a certain level, it won't get played by enough people, and the company that makes it will go broke. Good learning in games is a capitalist-driven Darwinian process of selection of the fittest. Of course, game designers could have solved their learning problems by making games shorter and easier, by dumbing them down, so to speak. But most gamers don't want short and easy games. Thus, designers face and largely solve an intriguing educational dilemma, one also faced by schools and workplaces: how to get people, often young people, to learn and master something that is long and challenging--and enjoy it, to boot.
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... Similarly James Paul Gee [2], in his book What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, discussed the function and relation of video games to students' learning. He created a set of learning principles for using video games, to wit: "I state each principle in a way that is intended to be equally relevant to learning in video games and learning in content areas in classrooms. 1) Active, Critical Learning Principle All aspects of the learning environment (including the ways in which the semiotic domain is designed and presented) are set up to encourage active and critical, not passive, learning. ...
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