Salen (2008)

Salen, K. (2008). Toward an Ecology of Gaming. In K. Salen (Ed.), The ecology of games: connecting youth, games, and learning (pp. 1-17). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Salen (p. 9) spells out what follows in the book after her chapter. It is a good statement about gaming:

The concept of gaming as it is used in the following pages goes beyond games, in the same way that learning goes beyond the configuration of a classroom. Gaming constitutes the sum total of activities, literacies, knowledge, and practices activated in and around any instance of a game. Gaming is play across media, time, social spaces, and networks of meaning; it includes engagement with digital FAQs, paper game guides, parents and siblings, the history of games, other players, as well as the games themselves. It requires players to be fluent in a series of connected literacies that are multimodal, performative, productive, and participatory in nature. It requires an attitude oriented toward risk taking, meaning creation, nonlinear navigation, problem solving, an understanding of rule structures, and an acknowledgment of agency within that structure, to name but a few.

Salen borrows from Will Wright's notion of key moments during the demonstration of a game to new players and adds a third. This is not unlike what your 2nd task is.

Key moment Number One comes when a player unconsciously reaches for the game controller or mouse and asks, “Can I try?”

Key moment Number One requires clarity on the part of design. (p. 11)

Key moment Number Two arrives the moment a player turns to ask, “Can I save it?”

Key moment Number Two can bring tears of joy to designers’ eyes, for it means they have crafted an experience over which the player feels ownership. (p. 12)

Salen then adds to Wright's key moments with a third and fourth key moment:

Key moment Number Three occurs when a player turns to another and asks, “Want me to show you?”


And there is a fourth key moment as well. One metatheme that emerges again and again across chapters is the power peer-to-peer learning affords the evolution of a knowledge system, and the range of guises in which such learning is currently cloaked. (p. 12)

which is often characterised by the question: How did you do that?

These four moments are not bad indicators in checking the design of any learning task.

She goes on to argue that:

Designers of cell phones, operating systems, and new learning spaces would do well to learn from games. When the stakes are so high, a system can’t afford not to teach. (p. 13)

Does your system, your resource teach?