Ah crap.. my laptop is almost out of juice. I might have to go offline for a bit and transcribe hand-written notes… gasp.
[Edit:] Ok, I did indeed have to write stuff down by hand. What follows is my attempt at a transcription; sorry for the delay.
Immersion vs. Learning – Michael Wagner
Michael is from the dept. for interactive media and ed tech at the Donau-Universität Krems from overseas! 🙂 Awesome seeing someone from outside the U.S. involved in the dialog about literacy and games. Michael introduced the Game Based Learning Paradox: games are great for learning but that also means violence and aggression might be being learned, too. This is what I had to grapple with in my general exams, too.
Also, he mentioned that what was good about games comes from constructivist theory, while what’s bad comes from cognitive load theory. Did I hear that right? Gonna have to ask him for a paper to read…
Anyway, there’s a moral panic from people who don’t know digital games based on false or exaggerated perceptions. (See book Folk Devils and Moral Panics by Stanley Cohen.) The question we have to answer is how do we address this moral panic?
To answer this, Michael explains that media comes in three forms: static, explorative, and active. Things like books are static, hypertext is explorative, and games are active. (Aarseth used static, hyper, and unpredictable texts… I really need to read his book sometime…) These three types map onto information literacy, decision literacy, and strategic literacy.
To help, Michael then showed us a series of diagrams that map out the relationship players have to a virtual world and that two of the action arrows–immersion and transference–appear as counterparts in a symmetrical diagram. We know how to do immersion very well, but not transfer from skills learned in-game to our real lives. The trick, if we buy into the diagram, is to flip our thinking so that things transfer back into our real lives.
So, instead of thinking that we control a character, think about the character controlling us. What skills does our character need us to learn in order to do the things the character wants us to do? That is an interesting idea! Reverse role-play as a path towards metacognition?
What Videogame Making Can Teach Us About Learning and Literacy – Kylie Peppler
Kylie looked at game modding and making as an entry into participatory culture. She described the games some kids (one kid named Jorge in particular) made during a(n after school?) program using Scratch.
[Note:] Kurt was merely blinking, but I thought this photo was hilarious… 🙂
While Jorge learned programming, remixing, sprite design, etc., he also had an identity or role shift while becoming an expert Scratch user. His confidence and participation in the computer clubhouse increased to the point where he was actually teaching the mentor (and other students) things about Scratch.
Participating in game modding and making is a “healthy counterpoint to consumer culture.”
One thing I thought about with our move to a participatory culture is that, sometimes, I don’t want to make anything… I just want to play some good games. But as I become more and more literate with games, I become more and more dissatisfied with them. Even good games have faults to me. Is developing a critical awareness about games killing my hobby and my safe space? Is my only recourse to turn my game-playing hobby into a game-research or game-making hobby? I don’t really get the same enjoyment out of that… Sometimes, despite all the evidence and myself purporting how social game playing is, sometimes, I just want to hole up by myself and play a good game.
Using Playing Breakdown as a Lens for Understanding Literacy – Will Ryan
Will comes from the School of Informatics at Indiana U. He looked at how players deal with frustration in a variety of games in a controlled lab setting, watching players play unfamiliar game genres and seeing how those players learned game UI and conventions. A breakdown occurs when either a tool (game or game UI, I suppose) doesn’t match the domain in which the tool exists or when a player tries to misuse a tool. He categorized the breakdowns and created a map of the types of things that cause breakdown.
This reminded me of the engagement research that Elisabeth Cuddihy and I did a few years back. We also used a controlled lab setting to measure how engaged players were with certain games. The difference is that Will is looking at disengagement or disruptions of engagement. In doing so, I think he also doesn’t get at empathy and role-playing that was included in our engagement model, but I think what Will did was briliant. We also measured flow state in our model, but maybe we shouldn’t have because maybe disruptions of flow are needed for games to be engaging and for people to learn how to play them?