Theories and Methods of Computer Game Studies
CHAPTER 5: LEARNING WITH GAMES
298 298 299 MATTHEW BARR Computer games and learning: the current state of play Introduction The learning potential of computer and video games has already received some considerable academic attention, as has the design and develop- ment of bespoke educational titles, which usually fall within the purview of “serious games”. Researchers including Prensky (2001), Gee (2003) and Jenkins (2008) have been particularly influential in establishing the pedagogical value of computer games. However, with some notable ex- ceptions, such as the work of Kurt Squire with the Civilization games (2004) and Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen (2005), the potential to learn from commercially-released games — those designed to entertain, rather than educate — has not been explored to its full potential. In addition, much of the existing research has pertained to school-age children using com- puter games in, or alongside, their regular classes. Perhaps this is to be expected: it is widely accepted that humans and other animals learn through play, and structured play forms an important part of primary- level education (Bruce, 1987; Moyles, 1989). If video games, which many incorrectly assume are played for the most part by children, are simply toys with educational potential then it follows that much of the initial work in this area has concerned minors. In Video Games and Learning, Squire (2011: 5) suggests that we can learn “academic” content through games, including the in-game terminology, a range of strategies, and “the emergent properties of the game as a sys- tem”. That computer games can help develop systemic understanding...
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