Shaffer Squire Halverson Gee

The article1 is, in many ways a kind of review of thinking by a group that shares the basic premises about games and learning.

Some of their key quotes to me were (p. 105):

In answer to that question, we argue here for a particular view of games-and of learning-as activities that are most powerful when they are personally meaningful, experiential, social, and epistemological all at the same time.

p. 106:

In game worlds, learning no longer means confronting words and symbols that are separated from the things those words and symbols refer to.

The argument about being able to experience different 'what if' type worlds is similar to that used when the first simulations were built for educational purposes over thirty years ago.

You can see Jim Gee's influence in a good deal of this, particularly with the comparisions to conventional schooling.

p. 107:

There is a lot being learned in these games. But for some educators, it is hard to see the educational potential of the games because these virtual worlds aren't about memorizing words or definitions or facts. But video games are about a whole lot more.

What do you make of the claim that video games are about learning by doing? Clearly that applies to playing the game but how well can this logic be extended from the immediate context of the game? The argument made for epistemic games, games that capture/represent the ways of working and thinking of groups, is an important one to think about carefully. The hype around most things computer-related does not stop simply because it is game software. This is a useful way to think about your 2nd task. In a way you do need to have a good sesne of how your audience thinks and works.

There is much to mine in this article. It is densely packed with what is a good summary account of many of the key ideas that inform research and development in this field.

The history of computer use in education has always been under a heavy influence of military interests2. This article points to an ongoing influence (p. 110):

The questions we must ask and answer are: Who will create these games, and will they be based on sound theories of learning and socially conscious educational practices? The U.S. Army, a longtime leader in simulations, is building games like Full Spectrum Warrior and America's Army—games that introduce civilians to a military world view.

There is a useful set of research questions at the end of the article that provide a useful framing of the many issues that face schooling and education generally.