After today, there is probably about one more post in this series, namely because I am hoping to share feedback that I have received from teachers and gamers about the series so far, but it may take a back seat to my need to rant about PARCC tech requirements soon. Fair warning.
People are not Lemmings:
Considering the Demographics of Gamification
|Popular Puzzle Platform Game Lemmings challenged players to solve |
the puzzle before the lemming followed each other to their doom.
Additionally, there is a lot of data being collected about how different types of games appeal to different people. Genre preferences have been noted with regard to age, access to computers, and family income. Some of the best data has been scraped from Facebook by the folks at Data Genetics regarding gameplay by age and gender (from 2010):
It's A Secret: Identifying the Hidden Curriculum when It is All Hidden
Most people going through a traditional education program get exposed to the deconstructionists and their ideas of the hidden agenda. I remember in 3rd grade getting new textbooks that suddenly had names of Hispanic origin and girls playing dress-up as doctors and lawyers. A hidden curriculum that had revolved around Caucasian dominance and stereotypical gender roles in the workforce was being, at least, partially addressed in my Grammar textbook.
"Gaming-as-Learning" is full of hidden agendas. In fact, it is even marketed as such. How many ads have been in recent flyers/vendor halls/edtech magazines with catch phrases like "She won't even know she's learning" -- At the point that we have to keep the idea of learning under a bushel, our ears should begin to perk up.
Interlude: A Fashionista Nightmare
My 10 year old was playing a game on her phone (
|A Casual Game with a Message -|
Just the wrong one
- When models were doing a photoshoot, they were judged based on the STYLE of clothing, skimpier the better - points awarded accordingly
- After the photoshoot, they have to run down and get food. If they spend money on SANDWICHES instead of COFFEE and CELERY, they will gain weight and not fit in the clothes worth the most points.
- In order to avoid paying real money for "upgrades", you may need to rely on your BOYFRIEND who was also able to sit in judgment based on weight, attitude, style, etc.
In discussion, my daughter was able to identify the game mechanics that she liked (choices, casual play, achieving goals, virtual interaction with characters), but did not pick up on the messaging until it was drawn out. The discussion continued as we identified traits in herself and her friends that the game was reinforcing or discouraging. After a long discussion, sometimes awkward discussion, she removed the game from her phone (and discovered the SIMS)
Teachers who use educational games are conveying messages beyond the skills taught in the classroom. Hidden agendas can be as simple as the choice of badge (candy vs. smiley faces) for correctly solving a math problem, the amount of violence and gore that is acceptable in the name of strategic gameplay, or stereotypes that may be present in any number of plot lines.The content of the game can convey messages more effectively than passive worksheets or textbooks ever could for the same reasons that gaming itself is so persuasive -- behavior is modified to accomplish the goals -- in other words, students are taught to ACT differently based on game cues!
But there is an opportunity here: Schools, classes, teachers, and students should be encouraged to approach
the game as a subject for study as well as a tool for skill development or an amusing distraction. At some level, we have to be cautious that we are not letting bad messages get the official school seal-of-approval. But we should also use the games as artifacts for deconstruction. By teaching students to ask critical questions about story and mechanics and feedback, we teach them much more about critical thinking than they might be exposed to when deciding if the best way to kill the pig is with the red bird or the blue one (although to be fair, the red one can carry a light saber).
Up Next (final part???):
- Creativity vs. Linear Gaming - The MineCraft Effect
- Gamers' Views on Classroom Gaming