Another bites the dust – now it’s time to play games
Yesterday evening I finished my second assessment for H809, which means only one more assessment to go, well actually two as there is still the final end-of-module assignment (EMA). The topic was of this assignment was
What effect has the choice of theoretical position on the research of digital games?
An interesting topic as it somehow relates to H807 where we had to conduct an interview with an innovator or adapter and my interview partner talked about game-based learning. Digital games is a fascinating topic, I guess that was the reason why the 2011 Horizon Report puts game-based learning on the mid-term horizon, assuming that it will take about 2 or 3 more years to move to mainstream adoption. Researching digital games for H809 was already very interesting and a topic that I definitely have to into in more depth – unfortunately not now as I simply have no time, being rushed by my two courses and my work as a teacher – but somewhere later because it seems the potential for learning is great. Proponents of game-based learning refer to its role in supporting collaboration, problem-solving, communication and active learning (NMC,2011).
Digital games, whether computer-, game console-, or handheld-based, are characterized by rules, goals & objectives, outcomes & feedback, conflict/ competition/challenge/opposition, interaction, and representation of story (Prenksy, 2001) or more simply, “Purposeful, goal-oriented, rule-based activity that the players perceive as fun” (Klopfer, 2008).
Serious games, massively multiplayer online games (MMOG e.g. Everquest), or alternate reality games (ARG e.g. World without oil) are some types of digital games (NMC,2011). During my research about digital games for H809 I got the impressions that many authors refer to MMOGs and their potential for collaboration and communication, for building communities, problem-solving and how novice players can become experts supported by their gaming community. Yet, digital games can be quite differently designed as my interview with Dr Sabine Hemsing from the Virtual Campus in Rhineland Palatinate, that I conducted as part of an assessment for H807, revealed. Dr Sabine Hemsing had no MMOGs, like Everquest or World of Warcraft, no virtual worlds like Second life, in mind when she talked about game-based learning, but authentic, realistic activities embedded in a game-based approach. She talked about the need to improve quality not quantity. The games should be pedagogically sound and allow an easy transfer of skills from the game in the real life. She stated that they follow a low-cost approach and referred for example to Online Rally or Experimental-role games (not sure if my translation is correct) as ‘Planspiel’ could be translated as business or experimental game. It is an experimental game played out of a particular role.
To cut a long story ( I will report more in my next posts), it was really interesting to compare the two relative different views on how game-based learning should be realized.
Fantasy vs. Reality
However, Dr Hemsing did not compare her experimental-role games with Alternate Reality Games. Her main message was that games need to be as authentic as possible. In one of the modules her institution offers, The participants, mainly staff from HE have to plan and design an elearning course. That is something that many professors wish to do, a more blended mode of their courses, a combination of face-to-face and online elements, but they often do not know how to realize it. The ‘trick’ in this module is not only that they try to solve the problem in collaboration with the whole group, but they work on the task in a complete different role. The professor might take the role of a elearning developer or the role of a research assistant. Taking a different perspective is valuable because in realty problems often arise when working inter-departmental. Well, definitely a more than interesting topic 🙂
Klopfer E., Osterweil S., Groff J., Haas J. (2009) The instructional power of digital games, social networking and simulations and how teachers can leverage them, The Education Arcarde [online], Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Available from: http://education.mit.edu/papers/GamesSimsSocNets_EdArcade.pdf (accessed 14 April 2011).
New Media Consortium (2011) 2011 Horizon Report, http://www.nmc.org/publications/2011-horizon-report (accessed 10 February 2011).