Jottings on science, religion, technology, pop culture and faith from the Antipodes.

Digital Technology

Education Arcade, day 1

Interesting article about computer games in education at Water Cooler Games – Education Arcade, day 1 where Ian Bogost (an academic game researcher, game designer, and educational publisher) looks at education and computer games at E3. Some interesting ideas in the comments of those he summarizes about using games to interpret life and make sense of the world around us.

A couple of Bogost’s summaries struck me.
For example,

Spector talked about Deus Ex as a world of humanity that asks questions like What is family?, What is the meaning of personal freedom?, What are we willing to sacrifice for it?
Players can explore real world spaces and do things we don’twant them doing in the real world
Get people thinking about things in a different way than they might do so otherwise. Everybody has motives; if we don’t get people thinking more critically we’re in a world of trouble. Games can get at that goal.

and on Kurt Squire

Kurt gave more or less the same presentation he gave at the Serious Games Summit this year at GDC (that’s ok, it’s a good presentation). Games are not just about building perfect representational systems. Games also function as interactive systems. They draw in identities, as Jim Gee argues, and they function as a hub of activity systems — for discussion, argument, and thinking.

Squire described his research playing Civilization III with gradeschool students. The students took up the game for wildly different reasons.

(1) Transgressors — opting out of history, “lies told by the man” took to the game quickly; history as a set of ideology as geographic/materialist history — new
(2) Mini-maxers — mathematicians, maximize game output by exploiting knowledge of games
(3) Exploreres — geography and exploration of resources
(4) Socializers — talk about hte games
(5) Nurterers — buidl societies and make them happy
(6) Builders — build acivilization

This wide range of styles/tastes provides differential access to the curriculum — and new approaches to learning. No matter the approach, the students learned that to become good at the game you had to understand its ideology.

These sort of things, the use of games to explore different areas of human existence (and especially in “god-games” like Civ) and to look at the roles of religion, ideology and suchlike in a simulation sounds an interesting avenue to explore. Something to ask my students about in the next class maybe.

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