Video Games, Virtual Environments & Education


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Guest Lecture for Gender & Higher Education - University of Toronto, Scarborough, November 13th 2006

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Video Games, Virtual Environments & Education

  1. 1. Video Games, Virtual Environments & Higher Education Joanna S. Robinson SOCC38H3 Gender & Higher Education University of Toronto, Scarborough, November 12 th 2006
  2. 2. Why talk about video games & higher education? <ul><li>The isolated teenage male gamer is a myth… </li></ul>
  3. 5. <ul><li>“ Games are widely used as educational tools, not just for pilots, soldiers and surgeons, but also in schools and businesses…. </li></ul><ul><li>Games require players to construct hypotheses, solve problems, develop strategies, learn the rules of the in-game world through trial and error. </li></ul><ul><li>Gamers must also be able to juggle several different tasks, evaluate risks and make quick decisions…. </li></ul><ul><li>Playing games is, thus, an ideal form of preparation for the workplace of the 21st century, as some forward-thinking firms are already starting to realise.” </li></ul><ul><li>– The Economist, August 4, 2005 </li></ul>
  4. 6. <ul><li>“ By and large, computer and video games </li></ul><ul><li>have been ignored by educators. </li></ul><ul><li>When educators have discussed games, </li></ul><ul><li>they have focused on the social consequences </li></ul><ul><li>of game play, </li></ul><ul><li>ignoring important educational potentials of gaming.” </li></ul><ul><li>- Kurt Squire, MIT </li></ul>
  5. 7. Some research on the use of video games in education <ul><li>A UK study concluded that simulation and adventure games - such as Sim City and RollerCoaster Tycoon, where players create societies or build theme parks, developed children's strategic thinking and planning skills. (BBC News, March 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37 percent fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27 percent faster than their counterparts who did not play video games. (MSNBC News, April 2004) </li></ul><ul><li>A detailed literature review on video games and learning can be found here: </li></ul>
  6. 8. Discourse on games/vr & education… <ul><li>Positives </li></ul><ul><li>Games can teach/train valuable cognitive and fine motor skills </li></ul><ul><li>Games can be used to practice teamwork/cooperation (eg. Military training) </li></ul><ul><li>Online games can be a positive social experience </li></ul><ul><li>Games can reinforce certain world views </li></ul><ul><li>Negatives </li></ul><ul><li>Games can reinforce certain world views! </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. Violence, Sexism, Racism, Heterosexism </li></ul><ul><li>Addiction </li></ul><ul><li>Escapism </li></ul><ul><li>Isolation </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-Social behaviour </li></ul>
  7. 9. A Feminist Perspective… <ul><li>Girls and women can benefit from becoming comfortable with video games, as they are introductory to the sphere of technology </li></ul><ul><li>Technology is constructed as ‘for men’ </li></ul><ul><li>We are living in a time where technological proficiency and having the confidence to try new technologies are important skills </li></ul><ul><li>Online multiplayer games afford online social/virtual communities which can give girls and women social support and connectedness </li></ul><ul><li>Girls and women can explore experiences in online multiplayer games that may not be available or are less available to them in ‘the real world’ – this can be empowering and effect their everyday life ideas about themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Games are an ideal environment for collaborative learning and team work (feminist pedagogy) </li></ul>
  8. 10. Potential problems with using video games in education <ul><li>Negative perception of video games as ‘just toys’, perpetuating negative ideas and as a waste of time </li></ul><ul><li>Need to strike a balance between learning and ‘fun’ </li></ul><ul><li>Hardware divide (graphics cards, internet connections) </li></ul><ul><li>Skills divide (technology is constructed as a masculine domain, slower typists may not be able to keep up with discussions) </li></ul>
  9. 11. Why use video games in higher education? <ul><li>Makes learning more ‘fun’, a motivator </li></ul><ul><li>Artefact that reflects culture (basis for discussion and analysis) </li></ul><ul><li>Simulations </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual classrooms (distance learning etc) </li></ul>( De Aguilera & Méndiz, 2003)
  10. 12. Video games/vr & education examples <ul><li>Sonic’s Schoolhouse </li></ul><ul><li>CSI </li></ul><ul><li>Trauma Center </li></ul><ul><li>SimSuite </li></ul><ul><li>Virtusphere </li></ul><ul><li>New Media Consortium in Second Life </li></ul><ul><li>The Grad Student Colony in Second Life </li></ul>
  11. 13. CSI Video Game Series <ul><li>PC & Xbox, several titles in series </li></ul><ul><li>Player is a trainee crime scene investigator </li></ul><ul><li>Learns how to analyze crime scenes and use various tools and methods to identify the killer </li></ul>
  12. 15. Trauma Center Video Game <ul><li>Video game made by Nintendo </li></ul><ul><li>Players care for patients and can carry out various operations and treatments </li></ul><ul><li>Teen target market </li></ul><ul><li>Game designed for entertainment, not teaching </li></ul>
  13. 17. SimSuite – Medical Simulation Environment <ul><li>“ The SimSuite Education System incorporates state-of-the-art interactive simulation technology that provides “hands on” reality without risks to patients”. </li></ul><ul><li>Computer program linked to a simulated operation room and patient </li></ul><ul><li>Currently in use in the US </li></ul>
  14. 18. The VirtuSphere <ul><li>The VirtuSphere system consists of a large hollow sphere that sits on top of a base that allows the sphere to rotate 360 degrees. </li></ul><ul><li>Wearing a wireless, head-mounted display, users can step inside the sphere to fully interact in immersive virtual environments. </li></ul><ul><li>VirtuSphere is marketed to target customers including: - Military, law enforcement, homeland security agencies and “first responders” (for simulated training exercises) - The electronic gaming industry (as the ultimate setting for immersive gaming) - Health clubs and athlete training - Education and museums - Architects, real estate professionals and others who can use virtual walk throughs as a powerful way to present plans </li></ul>
  15. 20. The New Media Consortium in Second Life <ul><li>The New Media Consortium (NMC) is an international not-for-profit consortium of nearly 200 leading colleges, universities, museums, corporations, and other learning-focused organizations dedicated to the exploration and use of new media and new technologies. </li></ul><ul><li>NMC has a campus in Second Life (a VR environment program), where members can hold classes, have meetings and conduct experiments/research </li></ul>
  16. 21. The Second Life Grad Student Colony <ul><li>(First Life) Graduate students meet regularly to discuss their research </li></ul><ul><li>They collaborate, share ideas and resources and have guest speakers </li></ul>
  17. 22. <ul><li>More images of Second Life & Education… </li></ul><ul><li>GNWC’s Virtual Centre for Digital Media in Second Life </li></ul>
  18. 23. Conclusions <ul><li>Video games, simulations and virtual reality are in their infancy </li></ul><ul><li>As technology advances further, we will have more opportunities and ways to use it for teaching and learning </li></ul><ul><li>Unstructured environments and structured environments can serve different teaching/learning purposes </li></ul><ul><li>Video games should be valued and perceived as a technology/medium that can go far beyond its entertainment roots </li></ul>
  19. 24. For thinking about on the blog: Design an Educational Game <ul><li>Assume you have plenty of $$ in your game production budget! </li></ul><ul><li>In your game design team, come up with the following: </li></ul><ul><li>General Game concept </li></ul><ul><li>Game type – Single/Multiplayer/Massively Multiplayer, PC/Console/Mobile </li></ul><ul><li>Game Objectives – What do you do in this game (short term goals)? What are you working towards in this game (long term goals)? </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusive Game design – How will you make the game accessible to a diverse audience? (Think about gender, race, sexuality, literacy, technical skills, different types of learners) </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits - How will the game aid in teaching/learning? What skills will it help players to learn/practice? </li></ul>
  20. 25. Further thoughts for discussion: Video Games in your class? <ul><li>How would you feel if you had video games/VR in your classes? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you think it could fit into/add to your classes? </li></ul><ul><li>What might games/VR be able to provide you that is not available/easily done otherwise? </li></ul><ul><li>What might be some potential constraints/obstacles? </li></ul>
  21. 26. Thankyou… <ul><li>Contact info: </li></ul><ul><li>Joanna S. Robinson </li></ul><ul><li>MA Candidate in Popular Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Brock University </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>