This Games and Learning course has challenged me to participate in play and the discovery of many kinds of games, both of which are activities I consider outside of my comfort zone. I am approaching what I think is a general understanding of what makes games appealing (of course this is not universal, but I am finding that a lot people I have played with so far enjoy games for similar reasons) and through our investigation of many authors I am learning about designed experiences. In my discussion below, I touch upon what I believe to be an interesting finding with regard to the kind of learning that well-designed games can foster. Hint: it's not just facts and figures.
What preconceptions about games, play, and learning have you changed because of your course activities so far?
When I taught English and French as foreign languages, I used games frequently in the classroom: card games, trivia games, board games, etc. Some I created and some were simply adaptations of existing games, like Who's Who. I worked with students from middle school through retirement age and I had them all play games to supplement and enhance our classroom learning. Looking back on this approach I believe that my motivation was to disrupt the tedium of learning grammar, to inject lightheartedness and play into classroom time, and to provide opportunities to use speaking skills in a less-structured context. I think most of my students enjoyed playing the games, but I did not design them specifically for learning. I certainly hoped that learning would happen, but that it would happen was an assumption on my part.
I've discussed previously that I don't actively seek out to play games and that I don't consider myself to be a playful person. I like being serious, thoughtful and engaging deeply with ideas. These attributes are not antithetical to games or playing, but they do mean that I approach game play differently than other people might. I always assume that people play games in order to win at them. I don't have a competitive bone in my body, so "playing to win" is uncomfortable to me. Playing games in my affinity group has really opened my eyes to a different facet of game play that is collaborative and cooperative. I am really intrigued by games that take hours to play and where there is only one team, the one playing against the game elements - where everyone either wins or everyone loses. Prior to this course, I had no idea that those kinds of games existed.
How have you relied upon networks - with peers, via social media - to advance your learning in our course?
I appreciate that we are encouraged to leverage Twitter in this course as a way to connect with each other, our thoughts, our work, etc. The way Hypothesis works also encourages our class discussion and our interaction in the margins of texts, while engaging with our readings. I would guess that most of us write in the margins of our readings anyway, so using an open annotation tool like Hypothesis encourages us to do so in front of and with other readers. The conversations that have been happening in the margins of our readings are engaging, insightful and fun - all things that we hope for in-class discussion as well as online discussion. Personally, I feel more motivated to discuss via annotation because the references are tangible and visible, unlike an LMS-hosted "discussion board" (more like discussion bored, am I right??) where following lengthy threads and navigating multiple submissions can be cumbersome and demotivating. Below you can see the difference in discussion formats: one is static, the other appears more dynamic:
I would like to ask: What does Kurt Squire mean when he says that games are possibility spaces, where players experience new things and become new people? The idea of "becoming new people" is really fascinating to me. I think that some common challenges of growing up, for example: lack of confidence, self-esteem, social skills, etc. - as well as generalized anxiety around being in school - can be hurdles for many. He says that:
"Good learning within a game is more than just spitting back to a teacher or to someone else the ideas that you think you are supposed to have learned”
If playing games, as Squire suggests, can do more than just distract or occupy students - if games can transform inner lives - then they have the potential to be truly powerful. This is what Squire investigates in one of the pieces we were asked to look at.
In the video below, Squire describes games as "designed experiences".
I have mentioned previously a few ideas that interest me in the study of games of learning are:
- alternative play modes/rules