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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 13. Games to Change the World

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Social impact games are different than educational and serious games: The intent is not necessarily to teach a content area or a skill. As mentioned in Chapter 3, games are built with reward mechanisms. What if game feedback could effect positive change? This genre pushes the medium past childhood toys to cultural artifacts. Designer Jesse Schell refers to the sector as transformational. His studio, Schell Games, moved from creating only entertainment titles to creating both educational and transformational games. I interviewed him in March 2014. To Schell, transformational games are “designed to change a person.” He elaborated:

I like the term better than “serious games,” which is a broken term. I’ve been proselytizing a bit that serious games imply a serious goal: If you are having fun, you’re doing it wrong. I’m from an entertainment background; entertainment is a serious business. From the realm of art or entertainment, saying their work isn’t serious is insulting. The goal isn’t to be serious, but to transform people. Most of the design failings of transformative games happen when they spend too much time on the game’s content, or the information they want to come across, and not enough on how they want to transform a person.

An example of a transformational gaming project is the Half the Sky movement. In the United States, the Facebook game Half the Game was published ← 223 | 224 → to raise Americans’ awareness of international women’s rights. It is based on a documentary that detailed...

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