Exam question 2

2) Review and describe the primary theoretical perspectives that have been used to study human learning and development in conjunction with game play (e.g., general problem solving, “new literacies”, adaptive expertise, distributed cognition) as well as what sorts of learning phenomena they allow you to better understand. Then identify the range of theoretical perspectives that map onto your research interests and describe those connections. (Note: This may involve considering theoretical perspectives that have not been pursued previously.) Finally, select one of these theoretical perspectives to explore in more depth and describe what sort of empirical study should be done to further develop our theoretical understanding of learning and gaming.

The use of games for learning resonates with me personally.  I have a lengthy history with games of all types including both table-top and digital games.  My life as a gamer affects the lens through which I see games and through which I interpret learning theories applied to games, therefore I have difficulty writing academically about games without it becoming deeply personal.  In this essay I use a personal narrative of specific games I’ve played to illustrate different views of how people learn.  I then define a way in which to classify games using two dimensions—story narrative and embodied metaphor.  Finally, I relate these dimensions to Ian Bogost’s concept of “unit operations” (2006) as a way of looking at patterns within games and across games and games culture.  Coupled with a new literacies approach to community participation, this may provide a way in which to think about games and learning for social mobility.

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Mark’s PhD exams, question 2