Wednesday, July 4, 2012

James Paul Gee's Games for Change Keynote

Dr James Paul Gee is one of gaming's best advocates by promoting the fact that good games are good for learning.  But what exactly is a 'good' game? What makes a game good for learning? Gee explains all of this in his Games for Change Festival 2012 keynote talk.

The funny thing is that Gee figures people must have thought that, in all these years, he was promoting bad games as being good for learning... after all, it seems that most people are choosing bad games to study or use, and then wondering where the magic is!

Luckily, Gee shares in his talk what is takes to be a good game.  Part of the equation is the idea of a 'Big G' game versus a 'Little G' game: a Little G game is just the game — the software you bought — while a Big G game is the game, an affinity group surrounding that game, and a long list of characteristics found in that game.  An affinity group is a gathering space, often online, where people with a passion for a particular game come together.  (Gee talked a lot about these in his book on women and gaming, which I reviewed last year.)  It's the Big G games we have to look at.

The characteristics needed for a Big G game are listed below.  You can see more explanation of these in the talk or somewhat in my notes (linked below). The list items are quoted directly from Gee's slides.
  • Collective intelligence: Output from groups smarter than output from individuals
  • Gamification: Motivation and direction of attention
  • Smart Tools: Agents and knowledge that store knowledge and teach
  • Crowd Sourcing: All contributions potentially count
  • Convergence: Multiple media and tools well connected
  • Data Mining: Copious data well represented
  • Assessment as developmental trajectory towards mastery
  • Standards: indigenous and models
  • Distributed intelligence: Intelligence stored in a network of tools and people
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Social intelligence
  • Embodied intelligence: Tacit understanding
  • Situated Understanding: Words married to images and actions
  • Critical thinking: Thinking strategically at a meta-level
  • Design thinking: Thinking like a designer
  • Systems thinking: Multiple variables and unintended consequences
  • Model-based reasoning: science
  • Innovation/Creativity
  • Literacy: Articulation of Tacit Understandings
  • Problem Solving: Facts as tools
  • Production/Fabrication: Modding mentality
  • Cycle of expertise: Practice + Routine Mastery + Challenge to that Mastery
  • Preparation for future learning
  • Augment reality (surmise new possibilities)
  • Adaptive Mentoring: Guided, well designed, customized experience
  • Learning ecology: Learning in lots of different ways and spaces
  • Remedial: repair past damage
  • Interest -> Passion
  • Art: Making Strange
  • Cultural models: Challenge the taken-for-granted
  • Play/Flow
  • Identity: Being/Agency/Counting
Next time you want to know whether a game should be considered 'good for learning,' think about whether it has all these characteristics.  I'd go so far as to say that educational games creators need to have a closer look at this as well, since many of the lesser loved titles are likely to lack many of them.
Be sure to check out more on Gee's talk in my Games for Change Festival notes.


Post a Comment

Comments are moderated - please be patient while I approve yours.