Video Games, Learning, and Literacy

The concept of multiple literacies is now well accepted and used in many fields and disciplines. Among the different kinds of literacy discussed are, in addition to print literacy, graphical literacy. mathematical literacy, artistic literacy, digital literacy, etc. As part of a course on literacy, learning, and teaching we “played” our way through James Paul Gee’s book “What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.”

Can learn problem solving and teamwork playing this game

A collection of all the games referenced in the book was created as well as the hardware needed to play the games. As the course progressed the students read and discussed Gee’s ideas and actually played the games together. During the course students had to respond to four prompts:

  • Select an educational video game; analyze the game for the 36 learning principles discussed in James Paul Gee’s book. Give examples of how the game implements the principles you find.
  • Select a developmentally and content appropriate educational game to use in your field placement.  Write a paper discussing the effectiveness of the game with your students (motivation, efficacy, etc.) and if you found support for the learning principles discussed in the text.
  • Select a video game and in a written paper identify and discuss how elements and experiences in a “game world” can shape the values and norms of a “gamer.”
  • Select one commercial video game and catalog all the different literacy elements in the game and its context of supplementary materials (e.g. game guides, playing cards, music, fan media, walkthroughs, FAQs, reviews, discussion groups). Describe how you might create analogues for a classroom curriculum unit.

Games like Laura Croft have excellent examples of scaffolding to help learners learn.

We used the game play experiences to illustrate types of literacy and literacy concepts. The discussion, game play, and assignments were avenues through which to teach and illustrate learning theories. And, the experiences helped the students understand how technological experiences contribute to and help shape people’s social, personal, and moral perspectives.

Role playing games let people explore identities through character development

Deus Ex presents many moral dilemmas.