Why gamers don't learn more - An ecological approach to games as learning environments


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link to the 2010 article on DiGRA.org

Author's abstract:

This paper criticizes the argument that video games by their natureare good learning environments. By applying the ecologicalapproach to perception and learning to examples of game play, thepaper shows that games can be designed so that players are ableto see and utilize affordances without developing skills. Compared toother practices, gaming demands less learning of the practitionersince progress can be built into the system. Contrary to the arguments put forth by James Paul Gee in his bookWhat video games have to teach us about learning and literacy,this paper comes to the conclusion that good games do not necessarily imply good learning.

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Now the problem with asking why people playing games can learn so much is that it presupposes thatthey actually learn a lot. It presupposes that what seems to be highly qualified performances has to do with the skill andknowledge of the player. The discourse of the competent gamer, adiscourse that Gee gives a voice to, is not based on systematic studies of what gamers learn (such studies are rare with a fewexceptions, see [1, 15]). This discourse is, rather, based on everyday observations and anecdotes (Gee???s own line of reasoningstarts with an anecdote about a six-year old boy playing Pikmin, [3] pp. 19-21; pp. 39-46).

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