James Paul Gee
Professor of Reading
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI 53706
I played my first video game four years ago when my six-year-old son Sam was
playing Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When It’s Dark Outside.
In Pajama Sam, child
“super-hero” Sam—mine and the virtual one—goes off to the “Land of Darkness” to find
and capture “Darkness” in a lunch pail and thereby alleviate fear of the dark.
turns out to be a big lonely softie who just needs a playmate.
I wanted to play the game so I could support Sam’s problem solving.
Pajama Sam is not an “educational game”, it is replete with the types of problems
psychologists study when they study thinking and learning.
When I saw how well the
game held Sam’s attention, I wondered what sort of beast a more mature video game
I went to a store and arbitrarily picked a game, The New Adventures of the
Time Machine—perhaps, it was not so arbitrary, as I was undoubtedly reassured by the
association with H. G. Wells and literature.
As I confronted the game I was amazed.
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