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January 24, 2010


Mathias Poulsen

Great post with a very nice down-to-earth approach to the learning naturally occuring when playing games. The fact that you know as much about games based learning as you do contributes to making this more than "just" anecdotal observations. All the areas described are clearly mirrored in the rapidly expanding body of research in this enormously fascinating and important field.

Sadly and in stark contrast to both this research and concrete experiences, the common perception of "the act of playing video games" is all too often considered a frivolous waste of time. Too few people actually identify and acknowledge the process of learning described in your post.

Regarding the regrettable bias towards un-informed critique in the media, it is probably just an inevitable condition. I suppose we can do nothing else than to continue to explore games and their possible applications in learning. The more we will be able to show and tell, the more multi-faceted the picture will hopefully become.

I recommend "Gaming Watch" - a blog with the declared goal to "look at bias, misrepresentation, spin and manipulation from the media when dealing with videogames". They covered the issue of "games making us sick" (here http://bit.ly/cL9HRC). Ren Reynolds at Terra Nova (http://bit.ly/d2DNIu) also did an appropriate critique of this not-so-insightful writing about games, pointing out that:

"For most of the world particularly journalists and sometime academics there seems to be a universal get out of jail free memo that I did not get. The memo seems to say:

“If you are writing about video games it’s ok not to check facts”."

Well, interesting subjects, and interesting work you all do at Learning and Teaching Scotland. Keep it up!

Derek Robertson

Thank you for your comment Mathias. The links that you provide are most helpful. We are currently engaging with research as well to attempt to add the necessary academic rigour to this field. It is tiring though to continually have to offer arguements to deal with much of the unsubstantiated moral panic nonsense. However, what we do works in schools so that's what counts! Just need to keep exploring and pushing the impact that game based learning has on learners.

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