An Enactivist Approach
James Paul Gee
Humans are simulators, not calculators. We learn from experience; we use images and actions from experience to give meanings to words, and we use prior experience to prepare for new ones and the actions we need to take in them. Humans do not learn well from just any old experience. They learn best when, in an experience, they have an action to take or something they want to do that they really care about. They learn best when they have mentors who make them successful before they can go it alone and help them know where to focus their attention in the midst of the plethora of details in any experience in the world.
Digital games are virtual experiences where players take actions, consider their consequences, and seek to achieve success at least partially on their own terms but with due deference to what counts as mastery by peers and mentors they wish to affiliate with and be accepted by. Human minds work a good deal like digital games: based on past experiences, we simulate experiences in our heads where we can try out different roles, approaches, and solutions to problems in order to prepare ourselves for new learning and mastery. Thinking—when it is focused on living and achieving—is like a video game in the mind, a game we ourselves design, play, and redesign.
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