Thursday, February 26, 2015

GOOD VIDEO GAMES AND GOOD LEARNING

James Paul Gee
Tashia Morgridge
Professor of Reading
University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 53706
jgee@education.wisc.edu

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.
Darkness 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.
Though 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 might be.
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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