Comments on: Games and Education: GameLab Style Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:53:13 +0000 hourly 1 By: Bill Crosbie Fri, 08 Apr 2005 18:02:00 +0000 Hey there Darius – good to see you are blogging. You have a lot of great ideas and I always learn something new from our conversations.

I think that you are right about the need for educators to learn more about game design, Darius. I’m working toward that goal at Teachers College, Columbia University where I am teaching a course in video games and education for the department of communication, computing and technology in education. (whew! that dept name is too long.)

I think I threw a lot of people off when I didn’t get us right in to making things using the computer. Instead we read a lot of work on design and play, and then built our first games completely analog. This allowed us to focus on the game play and not the technology. Also, none of the games we created were overtly educational. It wasn’t in our design vocabulary. Instead we just focused on making something that the player enjoyed playing. The feedback from the students is that their view of what game design entails is so much broader now than at the start of the semester. I’m not saying I did everything perfectly, but this appears to have been right.

Now some of my students are sticking with analog games while others are working in gamemaker or with some simple java Swing applets now, but the focus on what makes a good game FIRST was key in this class. I’m hoping to get a chance to run it again and further refine the approach.

By: Darren Torpey Thu, 07 Apr 2005 14:30:00 +0000 I agree most with the fact that educators need to know more about games, and game developers need to know more about education (arguably, the latter is even more important than the former).

What I’d really like to see is someone publishing a book that will help bridge the two areas. Of course, said person would have to be a genius, but that’s okay — they are out there.

I’ve seen some books in the last few years that are so good they’re reestablished (or perhaps created to begin with) my faith in books for technical and quasi-technical topics. Alton Brown‘s books on cooking come to mind, as do the written works of Craig Larman.
Though I haven’t read his book Agile and Iterative Development: A Manager’s Guide, what parts I’ve seen of it and what I’ve heard of it indicate that it’s a great book for helping managers understand some of the concepts that a lot of developers are working with these days. (His other book, Applying UML and Patterns, is one of the best I’ve ever read on an engineering-related topic.)

We need similar titles for games and education. My favorite book in these regards so far is James Paul Gee‘s What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Gee makes a good case for the argument that games can be used for education, but he also makes some greater points about how we can perhaps learn something about learning itself from studying games and how players play.

There are two things that I’d like to see in the near future. First, more books that work with some sort of theory from education and games and show how they might work together.

Second, I’d like to see a game released with an emphasis on its mod-ability and with tools well crafted enough that educators might have a chance of crafting an interesting mod for educational purpsoses for it.

Imagine a Civilization-like game with modding tools well designed enough that a teacher could fairly easily craft a historical scenario, perhaps with a few interesting twists to get student’s thinking. Now imagine that game also making it easy for students to alter those scenarios in order to explore an alternative scenario. Now imagine the game hyperlinking students to any number of (teacher-defined) resources for looking up actual historical data.

Perhaps the game scenario could even keep a sort of context-sensitive bibliography to document what sources students are using for inspiration.

That was just the firs thing to come to mind, and there is certainly much, much more than can and must be done.

BTW, although I’m probably once again preaching to the choir, I’ve also found the work of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program, under Henry Jenkins, to be very interesting. Jenkins makes a great case for games in/as education.