My understanding of games coming into this course, I admit, was very basic. I’m a big fan of games and play. I love challenges, puzzles, and being competitive. So when I think of games and learning as a topic of study, I simply think of the games I like to play in my personal life or I think of the games I played in the classroom. Thanks to scholarly analysis, my eyes have certainly been opened to the depth on the subject.
I think the biggest contributions to better understanding the relationship between games and learning have come studying the course readings, reading and commenting on other students’ play journals, and interacting via hypothesis annotation. My personal definition of analysis is breaking something down into its simplest pieces and then asking questions. The readings, thus far, have done exactly that. By breaking down the ecology of games, affinity spaces, and situational learning, the authors provide a different perspective on games and learning and give the subject greater dimension. Games are not just a tool FOR learning, but they actually represent a model of learning that drastically departs from traditional classroom education. This understanding shines greater light in utilizing or designing games as a way of instructing or allowing people to instruct themselves.
In addition, participating in writing and reviewing play journals showcases an important component of instructional: getting to know your learners. These journals are a great insight into how people play or react to play. And so far, the biggest takeaway from this activity is the insight that 1) not everyone plays the same way and, therefore, 2) there is more than one way to play a game.
Everyone loves games. Who wouldn’t want to use game play to learn or as a teaching tool? Oh, and message boards are for geeks…
These are some of the preconceptions that I had coming into the course and the more I learn the more those preconceptions are turning into misconceptions. And misconceptions are almost always due to a lack of information. I am quickly learning that games and learning is like the universe – it is continually expanding. And despite its vastness game play is not one size fits all. People engage in play or define fun in different ways.
When it comes to social media, I sheepishly admit this is an area where I struggle to find a foothold. I do see the value in networking online as well as the value of gleaning useful information. The problem I have, though, is I feel like social media is a breeding ground for people who are starved for attention – and sharing my thoughts to the internet is not really my cup of tea. Although my twitter feed contains several useful and insightful posts, those nuggets are mixed with political rantings and other trivialities. I’m not at all sticking my nose up at social media, I’m really trying to say that I need to change my attitude when it comes to this form of collaboration.
I do want to say, though, that the Hypothesis annotations have been a learning delight. What a brilliant idea! There is no better way to discuss a reading than in the reading itself. The annotations have not only spurred hearty discussion among fellow classmates, they have also been extremely helpful in clarifying, and in some cases, deciphering the author’s texts. Such a practice allows for greater understanding and comprehension – at least on my part.
If, as before mentioned, one size does not fit all, how can we successfully design game play that will engage a group of students, co-workers, etc.?
Although the answer is not yet completely known, the key is in the design. Much like instructional design models, it begins with analysis. This is important because it should preclude a designer in thinking narrowly about games and fun. More answer to come..
My biggest curiosity relates to my previous question – how can we design game play either as a learning environment or learning tool to engage a particular group.
As for affinity spaces, I’m curious, as I explore the Terraria affinity space, as to how this type of environment truly lends to learning – much like the texts suggest.