Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Video Games and Education pt.2

The cover story of this month's Harper's Magazine is a discussion entitled "Grand Theft Education." The article is a transcript of two teachers and two programmers discussing the educational value of video games generally and specifically if video games can teach the skills usually taught in an English writing class.

This article is available in to Rolfing patrons via OCLC's PerAbs and I think worth looking at. Some interesting quotes from the article follow:

General role of games in education:

What you're doing in [the video game] doesn't matter outside it, so it's okay to fail. You're forgiven. One of the problems with standard pedagogy is that it all matters too much, there's a pressure to succeed. ...

It's really interesting to think of actual soccer as an interface between your body and the ball, etc. But should we be cautious about such metaphors? Don't the privileges of reality need protecting? ...

On the ability to teach argument:

So could an intensively rules-based game like Civilization IV help kids learn to make arguments about the course of civilization, in much the same way that a good book might? ... [Answer from the article is mostly yes. Goes on to discuss video games inspiring writing and possibly academic research]

On plot:

I would say that game design is closer to architecture than it is to novel writing. The designers do create resistances to certain types of behavior and encourage other types of behavior within space, but first and foremost they're creating a space that can be explored and occupied in multiple ways. ...

On characterization:

I do think there is something special about the screen. In video games you get to be the star on screen and to be the spectator at the same time. There's a huge narcissistic charge to that. ...

[Video games are] very me centered. The player isn't curious about the outside world and how to fit into it; it's the world that has to fit into his game. ...

On greatness:

One of the signs of how important gaming is now, I think, is that video games have started to influence our ideas of narrative instead of the other way around. The best example of this is the television show Lost. ... [also discusses Da Vinci Code as example]

It seems, then, as if video games might serve ideas better than they will serve art.

This plays into the virtual revolution I was describing earlier. Everyone in the overdeveloped world will have the [tools] they need to create this amazing stuff, whether it be blogs or films or games. None of it will rise to the peaks that we associate with names like Joyce or Proust, but a great deal of it will be fantastic.

1 Comments:

  • At 1:25 PM, Blogger Cindee said…

    This is interesting, too. I think games could be used as an educational tool, particularly in the areas of problem solving. The literary aspect is trickier, but novels and what's considered literature are different now than they were a hundred years ago -- are the stories told within the games another evolution of storytelling? If a kid gets a programming degree and goes into game programming because he wants to tell his own stories (and have people interact with them) -- is that substantially different from the person who wants to write and publish novels? I don't know. There've now been several films based on videogames, and while none were exactly critical successes, they had enough of the ingredients of a story (characters, something passing for plot) to at least get filmed. Where's the line between what's a valid story and what isn't? And what can be used in education and what can't?

     

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