As we already have a good corpus registered to start building some dimensions into our thinking process, I wanted to begin our journey in this thread by posing our first thoughts about what we have as expectations for Serious Games.
Net Geners Learn Differently
Although they value education highly, Net Geners learn differently from their predecessors. This generation is unique in that it is the first to grow up with digital and cyber technologies. Not only are Net Geners acculturated to the use of technology, they are saturated with it. By the time he or she has reached 21 years of age, the average NetGener will have spent
- 10,000 hours playing video games
- 200,000 hours on e-mail
- 20,000 hours watching TV
- 10,000 hours on cell phones, and
- under 5,000 hours reading
Having been raised in an age of media saturation and convenient access to digital technologies, Net Geners have distinctive ways of thinking, communicating, and learning.
Wikipedia defines Serious Games as:
Serious games (SGs) or persuasive games are computer and video games used as persuasion technology or educational technology. They can be similar to educational games, but are often intended for an audience outside of primary or secondary education. Serious games can be of any genre and many of them can be considered a kind of edutainment.
A serious game may be a simulation which has the look and feel of a game, but corresponds to non-game events or processes, including business operations and military operations. The games are intended to provide an engaging, self-reinforcing context in which to motivate and educate the players. Other purposes for such games include marketing and advertisement. The largest users of SGs are the US government and medical professionals. Other commercial sectors are actively pursuing development of these types of tools as well.
However, the the juxtaposition of 'serious' and 'game' suggests something that is imbued with intent over and above pure enjoyment, that there is an agenda, a defined outcome to be achieved. Does this detract from the sense of game? Can Edutainment as a genre fully engage and supply learned skillsets that, as Bronwyn has alluded to, be transferrable and sustainable?
I believe the answer is yes. I postulate that the brain, engaged in repeated behaviour models a synaptic pathway in just the same way as any real world exchange. And, if this is the case, it can be fairly argued that this can indicate 'learned behaviour' which is a component of conditioning, such as is enabled by the Armies who use Serious Games to entrain fighting forces or pilots.
I welcome comment regarding this notion.
I am lurking for this course as I have to concentrate on writing, but was just so fascinated by what you sent to us!! I am E.A. Draffan, an assistive technologist in the UK, supporting students with disabilities at HE level. I should be word processing not enjoying your comments!
Thanks for offering these links.
I watched the times are changing exponentially. Food for thought. We are truely a global village and the population of the world is increasing at an exponential rate as well. This poses some challenges in terms of our environment and our well being.
It is a lucky coincidence for the human race that connectivity is a positive tool that has kept pace with these exponential changes. However just being connected is not enough. We need to help each other develop and the soft skills for new problems and situations that we may find ourselves facing in the future.
Cutting and pasting from your blog post below - these points certainly do apply across the board for adult learners not only for formal training but for do it yourself learners like me. It reminds me how important it is to immerse yourself in an information environment that supports you in what you want to achieve.
I'm wondering if children also need this type of environment. I recall Sesame Street was too noisy and busy for me and I much preferred Mr Dressup.
Is there anyone teaching primary grades who can shed some light here?
According to Susan El-Shamy in her book Training for the new and emerging generations, digital natives learn differently. They need:
1. fast paced, highly stimulating presentations
2. increased interactivity with the content and each other
3. information that relates to the learner’s world
4. multiple options for obtaining knowledge.
Medical education can respond to the needs of these students by increasing the amount of :
• multimodal content (graphic, auditory, hands on)
• active learning (read, write, discuss)
• experiential/contextual learning (job shadowing, simulation labs)
• problem based learning, team projects.
(Sorry for the ramble, i bird walked a bit below...)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Here is the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />U.S. teachers are very much consumed with teaching to the standards and promoting higher achievement on standardized testing. With the amount of standards teachers here in California have to teach/cover, it is very difficult for teachers to even begin to fathom looking at using technology, specifically technology based games and simulations. That's different thread though...
The amount of technology primary grade students get in school, and probably at home, is very limited. This is probably due to the fact that digital media that links to what teachers are required to teach in an engaging fashion is not readily available, and the amount of time it would take for teachers to, 1. Learn the tools to construct their own resources and, 2. Develop their resources/instruction based on sound "gaming/simulation" pedagogy that is engaging to students, is very great.
I have my own middle school student, and even though we have always had a lot of technology in the house, he has not really shown much interest in it. Up until real recently, he was much more likely to spend hours reading a book, than playing computer games. I would say it was only the last couple of years, grades 5 and 6, that he even showed any interest in the PS2. However, I did introduce Teen Second Life to him this year and this did catch his interest as much as PS2 gaming. It's become a good homework incentive :-)
He has primarily been a "consumer" in TSL. He has made many friends and participates in a couple of groups. His initial use has been primarily meeting others and trading and trying out goods from these friends. Only recently has he begun to explore the creative process in TSL...He's been attempting to attach his rockets to a house and create... :-) This little project of his has slowly begun to introduce some of the concepts around scripting and programming, and physics. Granted, this is all "work" outside of school. His use of TSL I would wager is pretty typical of how a middle school student would begin using this resource.
His interest in books over technology is typical in how students develop strengths, and yes being both educators there have always been just as much exposure to books in our house as there has been technology.
Okay...where am I going with this....??? I think we are all pretty adaptable. We seem to feel that students today are these multi-processing, do fifty things at a time, little individuals. We all adapt to our environments pretty well. We are all multi-processors.
Many people seem to believe that children today are "hard wired" differently than their parents due to being exposed to technology at an earlier age, but my question would be how much exposure would it take to make those changes in a developing mind? Once you have a middle school student, the "hardwiring" is probably pretty much set. Have the "millennial" generation been exposed to technology long enough at an early age to create a physiological difference in their development that would predispose them to advantages in learning with technology that their parents do not have? It would seem that at least in my child's case, there was plenty to keep him occupied at primary level (in and out of school) that technology did not become an interest until secondary school.
Bottom line, students need to be exposed at an early age to tools that provide them with the big picture. They need to become skilled in communication, ethics, responsibility, empathy ... to name a few. Can these skills be taught without technology? Possibly (many of us have acquired them). Could technology help students acquire and comprehend these skills earlier than some of us did? Probably. We are all interdependent on each other. Technology, global exposure, gaming, and simulations, would appear to provide an avenue to address these types of skills. Cell phones and instant messaging alone do not teach these necessary skills.
As an American educator myself, I see the trend of teaching to the test all to often. I tutor students online and most of the curriculum consists of what they will have to do on the test. I have found that if I can inject levity and relevancy into the standard curriculum, my students learn more and retain it longer. I have a greater success of getting the "ah ha" light when they have "played" a game that uses the skills and concepts we're working on.
All of my children have grown up with technology. One of them is very dependent on it to function in everyday life. The advancements and proper use of these technologies has broadened his ability to participate in life in a meaningful manner. He has been able to understand logic and analytical thinking much easier by "playing" games that require him to analyze a situation in order to achieve an end. Even his hand-eye coordination has improved beyond expectations because of gaming.
While gaming and technology are important aspects, all threee of my children also have a good foundation in good old fashion teaching aspects of books and pen and paper. While the schools here in America are leaning more toward the digital age to "compete with global entities", the loss of fundimentals is also very evident in the abilities of students graduating from our schools.
I do not feel that it is entirely the schools responsibility to teach some of these fundamentals to the students. This falls to the community and family. As you pointed out much of the learning occurs before the age of seven. The primary influence in the lives of these children at that point is family and community. I guess I'm more grassroots than anything. However, integrating the fun of gaming into the learning atmosphere of family and community can be achieved with the responsible decisions made by parents.
Now I'm rambling, but my point is that through careful consideration, gaming can become an important and effective tool in the education of all students.
I for one really appreciate the advice and experience of parents and teachers who can shed some light on the use of technology in k-12 education. Something I can't do. Think of the challenges that we as technology -literate adults have in finding and using serious games and virtual worlds. It is a bigger challenge to incorporate them into the everyday classroom.
We should also question - Should we? Are the kids better served by them or by a real teacher and traditional teaching methods. A serious game is not necessarily virtual it could also be table game or a physical puzzle.
Balancing the challenges of large class sizes, our own busy lives and the need to get kids ready for the real world is not easy. It makes sense to focus on "bits of the best" games and tools that parents and teachers can share and incorporate into their children's life.
Thanks for rambling!
I have to agree with you about how games are especially good for teaching things that require repetition. I have used card games like 21 to teach addition and subtraction as well as prediction skills. Yahtzee is also a good one for addition and prediction. The online versions are just as nice. My children have a good grounding in basic math skills because of it. Matching games are great to teach categorization, and the puzzle inlays and other online matching games make children want to learn. There is instantaneous gratification through the bells and whistles that are built in. Being able to beat the puzzle or game seems to help with internalizing the gratification and decrease the need for external gratification from peers and authority figures.
Using military examples is obfuscating the issue, becasue there is a direct, clear need (e.g. learn how to shoot someone/ blow something up) which is the basis of a gazillion games/simulations, so is hardly stretching. What about less glamourous subject areas (such as learning copyright law). I'd be interested to know peoples experiences in applying game theory (as well as any ROI repercussions) to areas such as these.
Yes, there is a serious amount of loitering with 'good' intent going on in SL currently. Not a lot to do just yet, but Im working on a couple of ideas to change that.....
I cut my own teeth, as many of my generation, on 'Space Invaders' and later, 'Pong", which demonstrated to me the addictively competitive component of games, even to best one's own scores, let alone others on the scoreboard!
Lately, I have explored 'Runescape', another enjoyable time sink (I'd still be playing now if I didn't have a living to earn).
What I've observed first hand, is the sense of being absorbed into an environment that has it's own rules of engagement, laws of exchange and interaction, economy and diversity. When these elements offer up a new vista of experiencing virtuality in counterpoint to our relative reality, we have a juxtaposed concurrence of mental models, real v virtual. Now, I appreciate that's taking the 'high road' somewhat, but it bears discussing from the vantage point of enabling young minds to grow sociable skillsets in environments that are contained and safe, where they are the governers of how, what and when such exchange takes place.
Watching my own son spend many a long day invested in 'Splinter Cell', a highly successful game of dubious merit, imho, I wondered what benefits he was deriving from it, if any. The repetition drove him to distraction when he wasn't able to navigate a level but nevertheless his sense of accomplishment when he did was apparent.
I believe there is something to be attributed to these 'milestones' of accomplishment, albeit derived from a game. So rarely are we praised or rewarded in daily life, that I can certainly see the appeal of quick wins that offer a sense of 'I can'.
I think for me it is the sense of exploration and greater freedom of action that allows SL to win. Additionally there is a lot of learning that I would like to do that is self-directed in SL. Do you think that your daughter, as seems with many of our students, would prefer to be told what a goal is, rather than be more self directed and determine her own goals?
I wonder if this is the case with the current and upcoming generations? and whether we need to keep this in mind when designing immersive environments and serious games. "Make the objective obvious!"
I'm with Graham in that I like the freedom and unprescribed nature of SL - it certainly suits my learning style better. But I know that is not the case for many of my learners; yet I need to get them to that place where I am as it is essential for them to be successful life-long learners. So maybe it's an incremental process (sort of like scaffolding and fading) - a game starts with specific, named objectives and as a gamer advances through the experience the objectives go from prescribed to self-defined.
BTW - to me Second Life is NOT a game.
The Ballad of the Noob
While the term 'multiverse' is commonly accorded to explorative science, it can be seen as easily attributable to what is occuring in these virtual elaborations, borne not from matter, nor constrained by time or space.
Arden is an unusual educational development which could be accorded the term 'Edutainment' but has components of virtual world and game included.
The Synthetic Worlds Initiative is constructing a synthetic world, Arden, based on the works of William Shakespeare. When launched, Arden will provide users with a fun experience that also immerses them in the narrative, language, and culture of the world's greatest writer. It will also serve as a laboratory for research on macro-level social phenomena, and the impact of the technology on those who use it.
From a recent yahoo article: "There is not going to be one metaverse, there's going to be a multitude of them out there," said Corey Bridges, a Netscape veteran and co-founder of The Multiverse Network Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif. His company is creating a program that will give access to multiple online worlds built using its technology, much like Netscape's browser gave access to multiple Web sites, kickstarting the Internet boom of the 1990s.
The technology will include the option to make avatars portable between different worlds, providing a middle road between MTV-style walled gardens and a wide-ranging "metaverse" like "Second Life." "Once you can move from one virtual world to another, the growth we have today is going to look pretty stagnant," said Gartner's Prentice.
The Metaverse Manifesto is a statement of how digital realities have become the only realities. The book is an indispensable guide to new media and the emerging phenomenon of the 'Metaverse'.
With the Metaverse Manifesto, Avatar Orange Montagne states the mission of the new creative breed he calls reality creators. They reject and then supercede established media and recycled culture. The core of their revolutionary actions is focused on creating immersive places.
Destroying 'fictions', they create spaces that include the viewers themselves, viewers that had previously been locked out of the media they perceived.
Written by Orange Montagne, a pioneer explorer in the concepts of 'digital being', with this Manifestio the implications of user generated content are shown to extend much further than they do today, up to the point of describing the very realities we now inhabit. Volatile - impulsive- written during a time of revolution and struggle to define the spaces called 'virtual worlds'.
But even though the definition has expanded, the connotations of goals and competition still overlie the term. Actually, in my game design classes one of my discussion topics is to examine the term and see if it even applies to the current 'game industry'.
Virtual worlds like Second Life, while using the technology of the game industry, are making an additional step away from the traditional definitions and connotations of the term 'game'. I would suggest that the term game has been broken down to meaninglessness if applied to such virtual worlds. Our language constrains our thought patterns, and sometimes it's advisable to create new labels rather than stretch old ones that then prevents us from seeing the totality.
I ran into the term Multi-user Virtual Environment (MUVE) the other day, possibly even here, and I think that that's a good label for what we are seeing in virtual worlds like Second Life.
Mark Lewis Baldwin
Game Design and Development
685 Trailside Rd
Golden, CO 80401
I agree Kaleem, a game for learning copyright law would be an excellent idea. and while we are at it another one on how to be a power user on the information highway would be handy as well.
Our interests are a sad fact of human nature, as the old saying goes - The masses are asses. I was horrified after discovering the Google Zeitgeist for the first time and learning that of all the topics we could possibly search for on the internet Brittney Spears and Bradgelina were the top dogs. http://www.google.com/press/zeitgeist.html
It would be good to have a serious game that disengages us from the trappings of our our reptilian minds and gets us to think more productively.
In primary I use mainly
In secondary i continue using the BGFL site but also add in GCSE Bite size from the BBC site and any other resources that I can find - eg Mathslinks Revision Site is a new one just been added by a friend from a Usenet group.
As I do a lot of supply teaching I just keep adding links to my own website so i can find stuff easily ( www.staffroom.myby.co.uk ) (yes I know the first link doesn't work).
Anyway I find it much easier to teach concepts visually. Kids are more inclined to play a game than have to listen to me - or decipher my drawings, and they prefer to practise skills on the computer than having to write. Even for revision - putting a quick test on "Who Wants To Be A Mathionaire" is much easier than having a 10 question mental maths test at the start of a lesson.
I also find that kids who hate having red comments or crosses on their books when they get things wrong don't mind getting things wrong on the computer. I sometimes think we insist on kids working in books just so we have something to show at the end of a lesson - not because its the best way of kids learning.
I think that the distinction that some make between Digital Native (those born into the digital age - after ????) think differently about technology than those born before (Digital Immigrants) is a very blurry distinction at best and totally false at worst.
I have two daughters both born in the 1980's and both reasonably conversant in technology [I did my best to make sure they had the latest computer technology]. One is trained in humanities the other engineering. The latter has a greater computer understanding and presence than the humanities major; nonetheless, neither really is digital in the sense that I am digital. I definitely have a greater emersion in the digital age than either of my daughters. There are two really important dimensions to the digital age that frequently are misunderstood and conflated; there is a technological understanding and there is an epistemological or metaphysical understanding.
Both my daughters can technologically do more than most people my age (but not me hehehehe). Nonetheless, they do not really appreciate the issues that the digital age presents. I recently (in the last week) gave presentations about Second Life to 150 student and 30 students. The first group was 2nd year students primarily and the second group was 4th year students, neither group had ever been in Second Life (at least no one would admit to being in SL [there is a nerd factor about SL http://one.revver.com/watch/215878 ]) They saw SL either as an escapism from reality for those who do not have a real life or as an addiction. These students could not appreciate the significance of virtual worlds and these are those born in the ditital age. Granted both judgements may be true, it is an addiction and it is escapism. Nonetheless, something like SL really does reflect IMHO reality. [I am sure to the person born in the Victorian age they would see our current society as both an addiction and an escapism.] Is this the case with SL more so than the gaming world? I thinks so. Why?
I have done a lot of games. I really enjoy them. I teach logic and love teaching logic (I admit I am a nerd). I remember one of my logic profs telling me that happiness was doing a logic problem. And I gradually began to reallize that he was right. I loved doing logic problems or getting into games because they took me out of reality, the stresses that I was experiencing, and let me just think just about the strategy of the game. There were no attachments to anything, one simply reflected on the strategies and possibilities of the game. I realize that games have evolved to include an emotional component (war games, griefing games, etc.), nevertheless, I have never found an environment that allowed one to really get involved emotionally until I experienced SL. It enables this emotional attachment because it is so real.
One of the producers of gaming technology released the video Heavy Rain [
"Most video games only use very basic emotions, like fear, anger, power, and frustration," he notes, "but not the social emotions that appeared later during evolution like empathy, sadness, joy, pity, love, et cetera. These emotions are more complex to generate, but all other art forms managed to do it. I can see no reason why games should limit themselves to the same old basic ones."
I see SL now being able to bridge to these other emotions that most games just don't reach.
Well I guess I have been a bit long winded but I hope coherrent.
Dan (Odysseus in SL)