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How video games can enhance graduate attributes


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This workshop begins by seeking to determine which graduate attributes participants feel they currently possess, and reflect upon how and where these attributes were developed. Inspired by preliminary research into students’ views on video games and their relationship with learning, the workshop then examines each of the University’s stated graduate attributes and invites discussion around the assertion that many of these attributes can be – and are already being – developed as a result of engagement with modern video games.

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How video games can enhance graduate attributes

  1. 1. 20/02/2014 Serious games Can playing (video) games help develop graduate attributes? Matthew Barr, HATII @hatii_matt • Term probably coined by Abt (1968) • Now refers to the broad group of video games produced, marketed or used for purposes other than pure entertainment – Games for health • also ‘exergaming’ – ‘Advergames’ – Games-as-propaganda • also ‘newsgames’ – Training games – Games for learning • also ‘gamification’ Video games & learning: opposing views “They become like blinking lizards, motionless, absorbed, only the twitching of their hands showing they are still conscious. These machines teach them nothing. They stimulate no ratiocination, discovery or feat of memory — though some of them may cunningly pretend to be educational.” — Boris Johnson, The Telegraph (December 2006) “Learning is a deep human need, like mating and eating, and like all such needs it is meant to be deeply pleasurable to human beings.” — James Paul Gee, Why Video Games Are Good for Your Soul: Pleasure and Learning (2005) Games for health • Re-Mission – “Re-Mission is a video game that gives young people with cancer a sense of power and control over their disease. It’s a fun, effective tool that supports treatment adherence and can be used in the clinical setting or at home by patients on maintenance therapy.” • Randomized controlled trial showed that playing Re-Mission improves: – Treatment Adherence – Cancer Knowledge – Self-Efficacy • Depression Quest • That Dragon, Cancer 1
  2. 2. 20/02/2014 Games for health • Exergaming – Wii Fit – Nike+ – Zombies, Run! Games as propaganda Or, political games • Marine Doom (1996) – US Marine Corps • America’s Army (2002-present) – United States Army • John Kerry Tax Invaders (2004) – Republican Party • Darfur Is Dying (2006) – Susana Ruiz/Save Darfur Coalition – See • Quest For Bush (2006) – Global Islamic Media Front • Also September 12th, Ethnic Cleansing… Advergames ‘Edutainment’ • Tooth Protectors • McDonaldland & M.C. Kids • Also, adverts within games e.g. billboards in FIFA, open world driving games, etc. • The bananas in Super Monkey Ball! Hello, Lisa! I’m Genghis Khan. You’ll go where I go! Defile what I defile! Eat who I eat! Genghis Khan, edutainer 2
  3. 3. 20/02/2014 Does the ‘edutainment’ approach work? More successful educational games • Some say: • Math Blaster (1987) – Games don’t easily support institutionalised learning • But educational games are used – successfully – to support institutional learning in schools and elsewhere – They may teach students to solve complex problems faster and more creatively – Games are designed so that the learner can take charge of the learning process • This is different from school learning where the teacher has made the important decisions – An intergalactic adventure that aims to teach mathematics to school-age children in the US. • The Typing of the Dead (1999) – Sega’s unholy melding of the on-rails first-person perspective zombie shooter genre with typing tutorial. • Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (1985) – Humorous geography-based adventure. Learning geographical facts is the key to solving the mysteries. Educational games can work Even more successful educational games • The Oregon Trail, 1971-present • Lots of smaller educational games continue to be developed today – “You have died of dysentery!” – Sought to teach American history, geography and develop skills such as maths • Browser-based titles, often based on existing educational or entertainment IP • The BBC and Channel 4 commission lots – e.g. Cbeebies Playtime, Sweatshop 3
  4. 4. 20/02/2014 SimCity? Learning from commercial games • A Theory of Fun for Game Design (Koster, 2005) 1989 2013 – “Learning can be problematic” • Highlights the human predilection for cheating • Like solving an algebraic problem without writing out the proof, or ‘showing your working’. • Complex computer games must teach the player how to play them (but fun & no cheating!) • Koster identifies three game design features that are essential if the player is to experience learning… Derek Robertson on using COTS games in schools Koster’s game design features for learning • ‘Derek Robertson at the HATII Video Games & Learning Symposium’ • 27s • COTS = Commercial Off The Shelf • Used Nintendo DS machines with a range of games including Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training, Moshi Monsters and Mario Kart • Randomised control trial showed gains in arithmetic ability after playing 1. Games must feature a “variable feedback system”, providing responses appropriate to the players’ achievements. 2. The “Mastery Problem” must be addressed – Better or more experienced players should not be permitted to gain excessive advantage at the expense of inexpert players. 3. “Failure must have a cost” – If a player is unable to complete a level or advance beyond a particular point in the game, their next attempt must be treated no differently from the last, failed attempt 4
  5. 5. 20/02/2014 Games as systems Video games and the motivation to learn • Kurt Squire (2011) suggests that we can learn ‘academic’ content through video games, including the in-game terminology, a range of strategies and “the emergent properties of the game as a system”. • That video games can help develop ‘systemic understanding’, as opposed to simply learning facts, is an idea echoed by James Paul Gee (2005), who states that “what gamers learn is empathy for a complex system”. • Often suggested that video games’ ability to support learning lies in their power to motivate people to play them • “Lots of young people pay lots of money to engage in an activity that is hard, long, and complex” (Gee, 2008) Over-lapping goals Types of motivation • Best-designed games typically comprise a series of coinciding or intersecting goals, with short-, medium- and long-term conclusions • This arrangement of goals, which permits the student to progress on a number of fronts – even when one goal is seemingly out of reach – has some significant advantages for student engagement • Two forms of motivation:  • More difficult to implement in a structured, often didactic, educational environment such as a school or university? – Average player age is as high as 37 (ESA, 2011). Not just “young people”! – But what if you don’t like games? – Intrinsic motivation, where the task at hand provides its  own reward – Extrinsic, where the motivation is driven by the desire for  external rewards such as money or prizes, or recognition  from one’s peers.  • Which form of motivation do video games engender? – They’re fun (intrinsic) but there are elements of  competition (extrinsic) 5
  6. 6. 20/02/2014 Commercial video games (I) Heart-warming story • Strategy games • – Civilization, Age of Empires, Medieval, Rome: Total War – Difficult for the educational sector to compete with commercial products • • • • • • • • • Example of where a real world ‘affinity space’ grew up around learning from video games comes from Squire’s (2004) efforts to teach social history to a group of under-performing teenagers using Civ Unengaged and disinterested high school students became involved in playing Civ as part of their social studies class (which many had already failed, repeatedly). A large proportion of these students ended up being able to discuss their strategies, the strengths and weakness of ancient civilisations and the limitations of Civ as a system, including the possibility of bias. Summer programme (‘Civ Camp’) where students volunteered to compete against their tutors, and each other, in a series of Civ games. Squire and the other tutors later discovered that one of the students — who had initially dismissed the idea of learning from Civ — had organised a sleep over at his home the night before the tournament began. Planned, with the help of a world map and other ‘academic’ materials, how the students might defeat their tutors over the thousands of years of human history. Applied lessons learned from historical accounts, a new-found appreciation of geography and an understanding of the game as a system to devise a strategy for winning. This work was undertaken by the students of their own volition and in their own time Many of these students have gone on to embark on interesting, often academic careers. See Barr (2013) or, better yet, Squire (2011) for more Kurt Squire & Civilization Commercial video games (II) • Kurt Squire at University of Wisconsin completed his doctorate on teaching world history with Civ III • Successful students developed conceptual understanding across history, geography & politics… • World history as a process arising from overlapping, interrelating factors, developing problem solving skills along the way. • Emphasis on these games is not on memorisation & repetition but on problem solving & decision making. Seeing historical problems from multiple POVs. • Action & Role-Playing Games – James Paul Gee argues that the pedagogical power of games resides in the potential to teach through the purposeful transformation of the student identity – The Brothers In Arms series attempts to present a more realistic, considered depiction of war – Draws on actual “after-action reports” written by historians embedded with the paratroopers 6
  7. 7. 20/02/2014 Commercial games don’t always get it right More problems… • Medieval 2: Total War • Squire encountered similar issues... – Begins in 1080 with Stockholm as the capital of Sweden – city wasn’t founded until 13th century – Florida lies on same latitude as Ireland – Ireland shown unified throughout (!); countries such as Latvia & Lithuania disappear into Russia But, game-based learning is, perhaps, not about knowledge transfer. And using commercial games to support institutional learning doesn’t always work… • Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen & Europa Universalis II – High degree of resistance from the students to the very idea of learning from a game – “Bermuda Triangle of incompetence, conservatism and limited resources” (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2007) – Both the teacher and the student must learn how to play the game (Kirriemuir & McFarlane, 2002) – Not everyone ‘gets’ video games, or has any desire to do so – How are gaming experiences related to the theory? (‘just in time’ mini-lectures were Squire’s solution) – Do all the computers work? • Portal 2 in the DISH lab Wikigeeks – Gaming and collaborative learning (I) • AHRC Social Media Knowledge Exchange Scholarship – University of Cambridge Digital Humanities Network (CDHN) and the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) • The best gaming wikis: – – – – Highly structured Multiple routes Variety of appropriate media Lively discussion element 7
  8. 8. 20/02/2014 Wikigeeks (II) Graduate attributes • The Dwarf Fortress wiki currently comprises • University of Glasgow lists ten attributes our graduates should possess – 1742 articles – a comprehensive system for quality assurance – a ‘Centralized Discussion‘ area • Barr, M. (2014) Learning through collaboration: video game wikis. International Journal of Social Media and Interactive Learning (In Press) • In groups, can you name them all? Flowchart which encapsulates one possible approach to attaining self-sufficiency for the player’s in-game fort Further Reading Graduate attributes • Gee, J. P. (2003). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Palgrave Macmillan. • Koster, R. (2005). A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Paraglyph Press. • Squire, K. (2011). Video Games and Learning: Teaching Participatory Culture in the Digital Age. Teachers’ College Press. • • • • • • • • • • Subject Specialists Investigative Independent and critical thinkers Resourceful and Responsible Effective Communicators Confident Adaptable Experienced Collaborators Ethically and Socially Aware Reflective Learners 8
  9. 9. 20/02/2014 Your graduate attributes More examples • Individually, make a note of the graduate attributes you feel you possess • Resourceful and Responsible • Discuss in your groups where or how you think you developed those attributes • Effective Communicators – The Student Learning Service offer year-round workshops in time management – The Student Learning Service offer year-round workshops in presentation skills and effective writing • Confident – Through sports coaching you’ll face tough physical challenges, and a tougher audience – primary school kids • Adaptable – How about an ERASMUS year abroad? It’s obviously not all about obtaining a degree Yet more… • Subject Specialists • Experienced Collaborators – Join clubs and societies with close ties to your discipline • Investigative – Try your hand at investigative journalism through one of the SRC’s student media bodies • Independent and Critical Thinkers – SRC council members consider all sorts of issues affecting student life and help to formulate academic policy for the University – why not stand for election? – Successful business are the ultimate team effort – experience life in the workplace with a Club 21 placement • Ethically and Socially Aware – Make friends from all over the globe at the SRC language café • Reflective Learners – Mahara can help you to organise your thoughts and record your experiences 9
  10. 10. 20/02/2014 Personal Development Planning (PDP) • College of Social Sciences: – Communication - oral and written – Effective group work – Problem solving – Critical thinking – Learning and technology skills – Taking personal responsibility for learning • /employability/guidetopdp/ * Smiling faces may not reflect actual outcome The Perfect Cooperation Game The Perfect Cooperation Game • Rules of the game –Don’t drop the ball –Don’t cross the line –Keep everyone involved –Take your best shot • • • • • • • Challenges Worked Didn’t work Feelings when successful Feelings when unsuccessful “Don’t drop the ball” Key behaviours & strategies Adapted from The NASAGA Training Activity Book (Blohm et al, 2012) 10
  11. 11. 20/02/2014 Why games? Video games & graduate attributes • “I would rather hire a high-level World of Warcraft player than an MBA from Harvard.” • Independent and Critical Thinkers – John Seely Brown – “In a job interview you wouldn’t mention it but if they’re asking for times when you’ve solved a problem… you only use your real life but how often does that happen? [Video games provide] much better practice than real life occurrences.” • Resourceful and Responsible – “Dark Souls is a very meticulously crafted game, so it only makes sense that all of its information sources be held up to the same standards, and that’s why I’m here.” Video games & graduate attributes Video games & graduate attributes • Subject Specialists • Effective Communicators – “You get really into the story and find out all the information that was based on history… sort of researching into it. We found out that it was mostly conspiracy theories.” • Investigative – “I do History and I was studying at the same time as that [Assassin’s Creed] and I was like “Oh, wow, maybe I should go to the library and read some of these books.” – “You definitely need to be able to communicate with more than just a chat system for team work. Vent is mandatory in any WoW guild for that reason.” • Confident – “It’s 25 people and you had to be really organised and I really enjoyed that. Really liked being part of that. Taught a lot about how to act in a team environment and sometimes how to lead a team.” 11
  12. 12. 20/02/2014 Video games & graduate attributes Thanks! • Adaptable • • @hatii_matt – “I can easily try reasoning with them due to the easy way editors can communicate with one another. Failing negotiations, I can block them from editing as a last-ditch resort. I've never had to block anyone on this wiki, but I've seen it happen often on larger wikis such as StarCraft wiki. • Experienced Collaborators – “I think you have to play the co-op [in Portal 2]… it feels like it’s just the epitome of team work.” – “It’s just, I think, that people don’t realise you actually work in a team when you’re playing a video game.” Video games & graduate attributes • Ethically and Socially Aware – “The last Wow guild I was in was one of the best one and I’m pretty sure that everyone was not British.” – “I think it’s an interesting comment on our world when video games try to emulate things like racism.” • Reflective Learners – “I've found that the wiki mind-set of writing is particularly useful for writing memos, reports, and the like where conveying as much information in as few words as possible is at a premium.” – “Shoot the red barrel!” 12