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Good Video Games and Good Learning

Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning and Literacy, 2nd Edition

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James Paul Gee

Good Video Games and Good Learning presents the most important essays by James Paul Gee devoted to the ways in which good video games create good learning. The chapters in this book argue that good games teach through well-designed problem-solving experiences. They also prove that game-based learning must involve more than software and technology and engage with the design of passionate-affinity spaces where people mentor each other’s learning and engagement. In the end, the book offers a model of collaborative, interactive, and embodied learning centered on problem solving, a model that can be enhanced by games, but which can be accomplished in many different ways with or without games.

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Chapter 8: Affinity Spaces: From Age of Mythology to Today’s Schools

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ƒ Chapter 8 Affinity spaces From Age of Mythology to today’s schools IntrOduCtIOn: FrOM GrOups tO spACes A wide body of research, applied to schools and workplaces, has used the notion of a “community of practice” (Lave 1996; Lave and Wenger 1991; Rogoff 1990; Wenger 1998). In this chapter I consider an alternative notion. This alternative focuses on the idea of a space in which people interact, rather than on membership in a com- munity. I want to consider this alternative because I believe that what I will call “affinity spaces” are particularly important contemporary social configurations with implications for the future of schools and schooling. The notion of a “community of practice” has been a fruitful one, and there are certainly many cases where the term is apt (see Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder 2002 for a clear demarcation of what is and what is not a community of practice). However, it has given rise to several problems, some of which are: a. The idea of “community” can carry connotations of “belongingness” and close- knit personal ties among people which do not necessarily always fit classrooms, workplaces, or other sites where the notion of a community of practice has been used. As an anonymous reviewer of an earlier version of this chapter pointed out, the notion of “community” tends to project a warm sense of peaceful relations among members, which we know is often not the case in schools or workplaces, and “does not only miss the reality of schools and...

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