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As a fourth year doctoral candidate, in addition to having completed comprehensive examinations and prospectus and working on the dissertation, my thoughts are also turning towards the job market and securing that first academic position. This purpose of this blog is to chronicle the trials and tribulations of completing my Ph.D. and finding that first job.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Are computer games a boon or our ruin?

Not even sure where this one came from, but someone (probably Stephen Downes' OLDaily e-newsletter) directed my attention to an article entitled "Are Computer Games Rebooting Our Minds? The hot debate moves to a big conference in Vancouver" (see http://www.thetyee.ca/News/2005/06/16/GoodGames/ ) by David Secko from the June 16, 2005 edition of Tyee.ca.

The article begins with a provactive question:

For kids and the rest of us, are computer games a boon, or our ruin?

I think that this is a great question. One slant to take on this could follow these lines... Do video games corrupt the minds of children? Do video games shorten the attention span of children? Do video games contribute to the problem of overweight children?

However, we could also go in another direction... How can children sit for hours and play a game that has only intrinsic rewards (i.e., the kids don't actually get anything when they win)? What is it about video games that makes it so engaging to children? How can we design learning situations in our classroom that are just as engaging?

These are two very different sets of questions, but really get to the root of this issue. Are video games a distraction for education? Or can education learn something from video games?

This is similar to an earlier entry that I posted entitled "Gaming in education" back in March. In that entry I asked, and will ask again, "So, what is it about gaming that gets kids going? And how can we go about designing research that gets at what is going on here so that we can figure out ways to do more of it?"

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6 Comments:

Blogger idarknight said...

Games are just another tool to explore idea manno - http://idarknight.blogspot.com/2005/06/games-are-just-another-tool.html

7:16 PM

 
Blogger MKB said...

That being the case Raj, if it is just another tool, it appears to be quite an effective tool. When I watch a child play a video game, they know every nook and cranny and where to find each and every hidden item in a way that indicates hours of practice and study of this environment.

That being the case, it goes back to my original questions in April, "So, what is it about gaming that gets kids going? And how can we go about designing research that gets at what is going on here so that we can figure out ways to do more of it?"

5:09 AM

 
Blogger idarknight said...

I did a little experiment with my little brother last time he was over. We played Virtual Fighter, a game that he had never played before, but that I have finished with a number of times.

As we played the first few rounds against each other, I soundly kicked his butt, but then as he started to get frustrated, I'd throw him a little break and leave it open enough that he could take advantage of it. In about 2 hours he wasn't needing help anymore.

I think it is the invisible curve that kids enjoy. On the surface, nothing really changes, but in the game, things are getting more complex and they are able to construct solutions to problems that are presented in a manner that is immediately relevant.

The problem is that the real world doesn't give feedback in the same manner, nor does it value the problem solutions of children.

8:19 AM

 
Blogger MKB said...

Raj,

If these are the problems:

"The problem is that the real world doesn't give feedback in the same manner, nor does it value the problem solutions of children."

How do we address these? Or more directly, what are the solutions in the K-12 environment?

MKB

2:14 PM

 
Blogger idarknight said...

I think the biggest issue is the value that is placed on a child's solution. The wonderful thing about the game is that the game values all solutions equally, be they from an adult or a child - that is part of the appeal of MMRPGs for younger children. How do we solve this? Good question... I'm sure if there is ever an answer it'll be quite something.

But it may be that computers are helping democratize education and show the equality of solutions, and it may also take curriculum and teachers that don't coddle children.

8:01 AM

 
Blogger MKB said...

A follow-up item, I say this entry over at Tech Gadgets Blog - LiewCF.com and thought it fit into this discussion - Quicker Eyes by Playing Video Games.

MKB

5:46 PM

 

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