Week 5 (week 2 of module 2)

There is a lot to cover in this week. The two videos are good viewing and the book by Tom Apperley is something you need to skim/scan, DO NOT READ IT ALL and make notes about as you come across useful/interesting material. With any book like this, look at the introduction or first chapter and the table of contents, then read the closing chapter. If there are ideas that interest you from that exercsie you can follow them up by reading from that part of the book that deals with the idea.

The typical response by many teachers to computer games is how do I apply this to my teaching? What use is it to teaching Geography to year ten students? etc. It's an old idea and draws on the notion that in order to engage, we need to entertain.

It is the case that computer games are a significant component of the digital experiences of young people. It is clearly the case that they engage young people in doing all kinds of interesting things that we can retrospectively call problem solving. But that is to miss the point. Take more time to think about the notion of a game more generally: rules, protocols, turn taking in some cases and so on. There are some who overlay a game metaphor to many practices that are not normally associated with games and gaming, e.g. school.

My second eldest daughter many years ago, when asked to describe school said:

At school it's like you are put into a maze and your job is to find the cheese. So you wander about in the maze and sometimes you eventually find it but then you realise the cheese is fake and your reward for finding the cheese is to be placed in another maze.

What I also want you to think about as you chew on the large volume is how you think about and manage what we might call the fire hose of information that pours on us. This is an important question. It generates a kind of hyper attention1. In a very real sense this week tries to emulate to a small degree what you are already familiar with. There is a very large amount of ideas and information "out there". Information is not a scarce resource. Your attention is. What do you do? Write about it in your notebooks. That is only part of the solution. Think about what you actually do when confronted with a large volume of ideas. Try and make notes, for yourself, about the processes you go through to manage, record, filter, curate stuff. Your point of view, which is what this course is trying to gently shape is a key part of these processes.

The Apperley book is best read in bits. The introduction clearly describes all the subsequent chapters which will allow you to bounce around looking at the material that interests you. This is a really useful text and is a good base on which to locate your understandings of games. So here is a lot of ideas. How did you deal with it?

The editorial for the 2nd issue of Volume 2 of Digital Culture and Education by Apperley and Walsh (2010) is a useful synopsis of a collection of issues and questions that characterise the thinking of teachers and researchers about game-based classroom work.

The Seth Priebatsch TED talk introduces a number of key terms and ideas. Apart from the fun agenda he argues for, it is illustrative of the kind of thinking of the movers in this space. I have a couple of brief questions that may help you think a little more about his argument.

To round out the week, there is Jesse Schell's presentation to the DICE 2010 conference2. His talk about The Future of Games is entertaining and insightful. I have not made notes or questions for it, his stats about games is sufficient to prod your thinking.