epub pdf The Ecology of Games Connecting Youth Games and Learning John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning – stoptheworldcup.co.uk
Ng of the game p 121 I like his understanding of procedurality as referring to the rule based models by which games represent something p 123 I also like his insistence that the rhetoric of a game appears whenever one senses that it is making statements about the cultural social or material aspects of human experience p 123 He particularly emphasizes the nature of rhetoric throughout its history as having to do with persuasion p 124 So he defines the persuasive nature of game processes as procedural rhetoric p 125 Finally he demonstrates how that rhetoric demonstrates itself in such games as the agenda specific The McDonald s Game from Italy and his own Take Back Illinois game as well as entertainment oriented games that either parody a subject Bully s take on high school hazing or explore it Spore s take on astro biologyClearly the worst essay in the volume was The Power of Play The Portrayal and Performance of Race in Video Games Not only was it rife with factual errors such as the claim that Mario was the first humanoid character portrayed in a video game p 143 I guess I must have misunderstood the representation of Pitfall Harry in the eponymous Atari 2600 cartridge
AND THE CHARACTERS IN TEMPLE OFthe characters in Temple of may have been crudely pixilated but they were definitely humanoid Further when the authors made their claim that blacks and Latinos were only presented as athletic or villainous based strictly on the Top 10 games on an inclusive number of consoles including the GameBoy and the Dreamcast they neglected to mention that at least a third of those Top 10 games across those platforms were sports games p 145 Gee wonder why the blacks and Latinos were presented as athletic I did like the characterization of some of the worst offenders of racial stereotypes Was I the only one who thought Interplay s Kingpin was the worst of the lot as digital minstrelsy or the high tech version of the old blackface minstrel shows where white actors would pretend to be black p 148 but the characterization isn t entirely fairThe only other essay that really worked for me was
Kurt Suire s article on open ended gaming and education The essay begins by introducing a taxonomy of types ofSuire s article on open ended gaming and education The essay begins by introducing a taxonomy of types of targeted relatively short games built around specific concepts p 168 epistemic games designed around a specific goal where players assume specific professional rules p 169 differentiated games where players assume different roles and support each other because the players have access to different data p 169 and open ended commercial games that may reuire hundreds of hours of investment It was interesting to read his observations about using the same targeted game Supercharged with both MIT students and secondary school students The former perceived the game as a crutch for students who couldn t understand euations while the latter readily gravitated to the game and improved test scores as well p 169 It was also important to see that in Suire s ethnographic observations of game players in the differentiated and open ended games players had no problems adopting fictional roles whether university age or secondary school age p 170 As other game researchers have reported revealing one s gaming experience seems like an important step in gaining trust with gamers around games that are socially marginalized pp 176 177 While this seems somewhat obvious it was still an important idea to me I was intrigued by another observation that young urban blacks considers Grand Theft Auto San Andreas to present a false sense of economic mobility and they fear that it sends an erroneous signal to white gamers that blacks may not be industrious enough to take advantage of this perceived economic mobility p 177 With such observations Suire gives two important take away ideas 1 open ended games teach a wider variety of skills and content than readily fit into standard curricula p 182 and 2 games rarely change ethical perspectives p 182 There is also a great diagram on learning game design on p 187While as with any anthology of essays the material was uneven with regard to my needs The Ecology of Games is a valuable tool for anyone who wants to read research and theories about game play The Ecology of Games is focused on video games but I personally think it is important for understanding games in general. E empowered through their participation in the creation uptake and revision of games; emergent gaming literacies including modding world building and learning how to navigate a complex system; and how games act as points of departure for other forms of nowledge literacy and social organizationContributorsIan Bogost Anna Everett James Paul Gee Mizuko Ito Barry Joseph Laurie McCarthy Jane McGonigal Cory Ondrejka Amit Pitaru Tom Satwicz Kurt Suire Reed Stevens S Craig Watkins.
Katie Salen õ 2 ReadA selection of essays by various authors that makes some interesting comparisons Bought this mainly for the articles by Bogost and McGonigal which you can find for free online as well Both are solid pieces of writing on ways in which games can be used beyond entertainment that I figured were worth having in dead tree format This stimulating book of essays emphasizes the positive potential of playing games almost to the exclusion of the negative To be sure hats are tipped to the negatives this is not a group of scholars in denial The Ecology of Games simply recognizes that games have received enough negative print and has elected to deal with the positive of games as learning laboratories and attitude modifiers as
opposed to games a national threat Indeed the threat filled literatureto games as a national threat Indeed the threat filled literature media targeting video games as anti social forces must remind one of similar rants against comics television rock music film and earlier role playing games As I perpetually remind my students note that the early adopting audience for each of those earlier targets was you guessed it adolescents pre teens and teenagers forming a threatening cultural coalition against parents who failed to understand these important icons in the new culture As a result I found The Ecology of Games to be a welcome and insightful collection of observations theories and possibilitiesIn the introduction an intriguing uotation captured my attention and the thoughts of several days uoting from an article in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology the article reads The meaning of From Tree Dwellings To New Towns knowing today has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find it and use it p 5 Problem solving making connections learning to sift and evaluate data and finding ways to present a coherent story from the data are vital to the learning and surviving experience today Naturally we realize that all of the digital mnemonics we use in order to be able to jump over this memorization and repetition phase might be disastrous in the event of that dark future where we lose the whole information infrastructure but we live in the world of the given not the might be and need to maximize that Of course this reviewer still tries to teach basic theories just in case we lose the global database and stilleeps his analog database in book form as much as possibleI also appreciated Salen s ideas in the opening essay on expanding Will Wright s two ey moments in recognizing successful game design According to Will the first ey moment is Can I try it p 11 It s a good sign when an observer wants to become a participant Again according to the SimCity designer the second A Streetcar Named Desire. By Nicola Onyett (Philip Allan Literature Guide key moment is Can I save it p 12 which means that the participant has become a creator and wants to be able toeep test and possibly improve the game experience I ve heard Will share those in conferences but I especially liked the way that Katie improved on them with the participant become docent Can I show you p 12 and participant as curatorpurveyor of nowledge systems such that new participantsobservers would ask How did you do that p 13 Several aspects of James Gee s Learning and Games caught my attention One of his ideas was his definition of a Situational Learning Matrix p 24 but as he presented it the matrix was too complicated for the typical four uadrant diagram Upon reflection I feel like it might be expressed with the x axis suggesting identity both for player and society and running from norms on the left to goals on the right and the y axis would suggest tools and technologies p 25 so that it runs from content on the bottom to problem solving on the top In this way the lower left uadrant would emphasize conformity while the upper right uadrant would emphasize problem solving to accomplish specific goals I don t now if that is exactly as Gee would present it but it seems useful Since prior to the introduction of the matrix idea Gee espouses a series of principles that would agree with my interpretation I believe my suggestion is fair Those principles are1 Humans store experiences best when they are related to GOALS 2 Stored experiences are most useful when they are INTERPRETED 3 People learn best from immediate FEEDBACK 4 People need to apply their previous experiences in order to debug their in. An exploration of games as systems in which young people participate as gamers producers and learnersIn the many studies of games and young people's use of them little has been written about an overall ecology of gaming game design and play mapping the ways that all the various elements from coding to social practices to aesthetics coexist in the game world This volume looks at games as systems in which young users participate as gamers producers and learners The Ecology of. Terpretations and5 It is efficient for people to learn from the experiences of other people p 21Building upon that Gee points out that models and modeling are important aspects of learning and foundational for gaming in order that experiences can be explored usually through interrogation and allow them to be used for problem solving p 30 More importantly he elucidates But from a learning perspective what is important about video games is not interactivity per se but the fact that in many games players come to feel a sense of agency or ownership In a video game players make things happen they don t just consume what the author game designer has placed before them In good games players feel that their actions or decisions not just the designer s actions or decisions co create the world they are in and shape the experiences they are having p 35The next essay dealt with hours upon hours of ethnographic video recording of children and teenagers at play as well as interviews with the participants On one occasion the researchers observed a sister helping a brother playing a video game and helping the same brother with homework In the video game even when the sister didn t now what should be done she would look in the documentation and make suggestions to try to help her brother In helping with his math
she would read in textbook but refused to make suggestions because she said she didn t The Escape (Hendersons Boys, know anything the mathematical process In the game she was willing to read and suggest even without priornowledge in the homework she was unwilling to take a risk p 58Most interesting to me were the anecdotes about cheating One player was so well Lolo known for cheating that all of the otherids assumed that he was cheating even when he showed them his controller before the races and when he allowed other players to use codes where he hadn t pp 53 54 I plan to use the anecdote to illustrate the relationship between cheating in games and Kant s categorical imperatives On the same subject I was also fascinated by two girls and their approaches to Zoo Tycoon One of them was so much invested in creating a good design that she thought nothing of cheating in order to get money to add pretty but non functional adornments to her zoo The other refused to cheat in the scenarios but acted entirely counter to her usual relationship with animals by reducing every decision to the bottom line The former played similar to the way she approached life looking for opportunities to inject her aesthetic perspective into the game p 56 The latter insisted that she would never act the way she played the game in real life p 60 I was intrigued however by the urban African American youth who used cheats in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas so that he could design cars without having to go through the missions but playedhomework she would read in the textbook refused to make suggestions because she said she didn t now anything
the game in order to accomplish anti socialgame in order to accomplish anti social only when he was playing with his peers p 175More cautionary was the sobering transcript of children guessing at the answers to problems in Island of Dr Brain Counter to assertions from people like me about how much games improve children s awareness of the process of problem solving and enhance their confidence was this confession by a game playing child I have no idea I m just guessing It works p 107 The author comments The focus on external assessment and the linear seuencing of the game encourages an orientation to accomplishing the technical conditions for success rather than deeper exploration of the problem domain p 107In addition I have always been stimulated by the work of Georgia Tech s Ian Bogost The essay in this work although a reduced form of his major work on procedural rhetoric was no exception He rightly differentiated between the purpose of the Animal Crossing Community a help site built around the popular Nintendo game Animal Crossing as being focused on the social practices of playing the game as opposed to the social practices represented in the game p 119 Of course he uses this to press his point that cultural and social values are propagated within games but notes that these are rarely critiued or analyzed Hence educators are missing an opportunityTherefore he posits that those activities which the gamer is allowed to do within the rules constraints of the game form the statement or meani. Games edited by Rules of Play author Katie Salen aims to expand upon and add nuance to the debate over the value of games which so far has been vociferous but overly polemical and surprisingly shallow Game play is credited with fostering new forms of social organization and new ways of thinking and interacting; the contributors work to situate this within a dynamic media ecology that has the participatory nature of gaming at its core They look at the ways in which youth ar. .