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Gamify Your Classroom

A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning


Matthew Farber

This book is a field guide on how to implement game-based learning and «gamification» techniques to the everyday teaching. It is a survey of best practices aggregated from interviews with experts in the field, including: James Paul Gee (Author, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy); Henry Jenkins (Provost Professor at University of Southern California); Katie Salen (Founder, Institute of Play); Bernie DeKoven (Author, A Playful Path); Richard Bartle (Bartle’s Player Type Theory); Kurt Squire (Games + Learning + Society Center); Jessica Millstone (Joan Ganz Cooney Center), Dan White (Filament Games); Erin Hoffman (GlassLab Games); Jesse Schell (Schell Games/Professor at Carnegie Mellon); Tracy Fullerton (University of Southern California Game Innovation Lab); Alan Gershenfeld (E-Line Media); Noah Falstein (Chief Game Designer, Google); Valerie Shute (Professor at Florida State University); Lee Sheldon (Author, The Multiplayer Classroom); Robert J. Torres (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Asi Burak (President, Games for Change); Toby Rowland (MangaHigh); Jocelyn Leavitt (Hopscotch); Krishna Vedati (Tynker); and researchers at BrainPOP and designers from Electric Funstuff (Mission U.S. games). Each chapter concludes with practical lesson plan ideas, games to play (both digital and tabletop), and links to research further. Much of the book draws on the author’s experiences implementing games with his middle school students. Regardless of your teaching discipline or grade level, whether you are a pre-service teacher or veteran educator, this book will engage and reinvigorate the way you teach and how your students learn!
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Chapter 11. Communities of Play

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Game and learning academic James Gee refers to offline game-based communities as “affinity groups.” This is where people are “bonded primarily through shared endeavors, goals, and practices and not shared race, gender, nation, ethnicity, or culture” (2007, p. 212). Wikis—websites that anyone can edit—are an example. The website IGN Entertainment features wikis about video games. I have often turned to IGN to find user-created “walkthroughs” of games when I get stuck on a level or can’t figure out a solution to a problem.

If students can engage in higher-order discourse on a topic they are interested in, perhaps it should be brought into formal learning settings. One such space was the community (now defunct). Kurt Squire started writing for it as a graduate student and discovered that readers were active (2011). Squire wrote, “Knowing how to identify, navigate, and even start affinity spaces such as is an essential skill for furthering one’s professional development” (2011, p. 69). He continued, “It may be less games as a technology and more games as a cultural practice that encourages experimentation, systemic thinking, and authentic participation” (Squire, 2011, p. 71). In other words, gamer cultures have members who discuss and reflect, as well as critique, content. Also debated are heuristics, defined as analyzing “what moves were most effective, what decisions could have been ← 195 | 196 → made differently, what the correct winning strategies are” (Elias, Garfield, & Gutschera, 2012, p. 29). Think: Monday morning quarterback.

Apprenticeship training...

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