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Serious games and learning in SA


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A guest presentation given to students at the University of Cape Town introducing games and learning, serious games, and how these relate to the South African context.

Serious games and learning in SA

  1. 1. 08.08.08 Serious games and learning in SA <ul><ul><li>Steve Vosloo </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>Why games and learning? </li></ul><ul><li>Serious games </li></ul><ul><li>South Africa </li></ul><ul><li>Design thoughts </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>“ ... even the harshest critics agree that we learn something from playing video games. The question is: how can we use the power of video games as a constructive force in schools, homes, and at work?” </li></ul><ul><li>Shaffer, Squire, Halverson, Gee (2005) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Play <ul><li>Earliest forms of learning (Vygotsky) </li></ul><ul><li>Try, fail, experiment / “die and do over” </li></ul><ul><li>Experiential & immersive </li></ul><ul><li>Motivating </li></ul><ul><li>Theory of situated learning – “learning to be” </li></ul>
  5. 5. Learning through games? <ul><li>Highly engaging </li></ul><ul><li>Communities of practice: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>News, FAQs, discussion forums </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ecology of games: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategy, dialogue, mentoring </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Develop community social practices </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>“ We don’t learn from games, we learn through them.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ In SA, gaming can be used as a learning tool when it is conceived and designed as the vehicle that provides the opportunity for social dialogue in a learning activity.” </li></ul><ul><li>Alan Amory (2008) </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>“ Beyond their value as entertainment media, games ... are currently key entry points for many young people into productive literacies, social communities, and digitally rich identities.” </li></ul><ul><li>Katie Salen (2008) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Learning through games? <ul><li>Experiment with identities </li></ul><ul><li>The harder the better </li></ul><ul><li>Form of problem solving </li></ul><ul><li>Gee's 36 learning principles of good games (2004) </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>“ In some sense, a game is nothing but a set of problems. We're actually selling people problems for 40 bucks a pop ... And the more interesting games in my opinion are the ones that have a larger solution space. In other words, there’s not one specific way to solve a puzzle, but, in fact, there’s an infinite range of solutions ...” </li></ul><ul><li>Will Wright (Jenkins 2005) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Serious games <ul><li>“ Developed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment” (Wikipedia 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Education, training (military / commercial), health, public policy ... </li></ul><ul><li>Social change, content or language learning, raising awareness, cross-cultural sensitivity ... </li></ul>
  11. 12. Peace Maker
  12. 15. Re-Mission <ul><li>Participants who played Re-Mission: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>maintained higher levels of chemotherapy in their blood </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>took their antibiotics more consistently </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>showed faster acquisition of cancer-related knowledge </li></ul></ul>
  13. 16. <ul><li>“ We now know that games can induce positive changes in the way individuals manage their health. The game not only motivates positive health behavior; it also gives players a greater sense of power and control over their disease – in fact, that seems to be its key ingredient.” </li></ul><ul><li>Cole (2008) </li></ul>
  14. 21. Mobile games <ul><li>Mostly Augmented Reality games, e.g. Sick at South Shore Beach: A Place-Based Augmented Reality Game as a Framework for Building Academic Language in Science </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual game overlaid onto physical space -- location-aware </li></ul><ul><li>Players as field researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced (GPS) </li></ul><ul><li>Simple (SMS) </li></ul>
  15. 22. MUVEs <ul><li>Eg: Quest Atlantis: 3D multi-user virtual environment to immerse children, ages 9-15, in educational tasks </li></ul><ul><li>Improved disposition to information and learning, specifically science topics </li></ul>
  16. 23. ARGs <ul><li>An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants' ideas or actions. (Wikipedia) </li></ul><ul><li>Puppetmaster, rabbit hole </li></ul><ul><li>i love bees, the lost ring </li></ul>
  17. 24. South Africa <ul><li>Cellphones: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>72% own a cell phone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>60% talk on a cell phone almost daily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nearly half text message almost daily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MXit: 6 million subscribers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Computers and Internet: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only 17% have ever used the Internet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>6% use it almost daily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>15% have a computer in their home </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>9% have Internet access at home </li></ul></ul>
  18. 25. M4Girls Project <ul><li>Improve maths in grade 10 rural girls by Mindset </li></ul><ul><li>Mathstermind and Fashion Empire </li></ul><ul><li>Nokia 6300 </li></ul>
  19. 26. Energy saving game <ul><li>Standalone / networked (ProBoPortable)? </li></ul><ul><li>Platform? </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. “Enemy is darkness, wastage is the evil force ...” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Define learning outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Learning environment: Formal/informal? </li></ul><ul><li>Define supplementary learning materials / complimentary learning environment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Augmented reality, ARG, people network </li></ul></ul>
  20. 27. Mobile games <ul><li>Portability - can take the computer to different sites and move around within a location </li></ul><ul><li>Social interactivity - can exchange data and collaborate with other people face to face </li></ul><ul><li>Context sensitivity - can gather data unique to the current location, environment, and time, including both real and simulated data </li></ul><ul><li>Connectivity - can connect handhelds to data collection devices, other handhelds, and to a common network that creates a true shared environment </li></ul><ul><li>Individuality - can provide unique scaffolding that is customized to the individual's path of investigation. </li></ul><ul><li>Klopfer (Jenkins 2008) </li></ul>
  21. 28. Design challenges <ul><li>Beyond “chocolate covered broccoli” (Bruckman 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>Problem 1: Contradiction between playing the game and learning </li></ul><ul><li>Problem 2: There can be too much interactivity with a game and not enough reflection </li></ul><ul><li>Learning happens through social interaction – how to achieve this? </li></ul>
  22. 29. Disclaimer <ul><li>No panacea </li></ul><ul><li>Violent / stereotypical / misogynistic </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers: Play is not work </li></ul><ul><li>Gaming is not for everyone (is anything?) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Competing” against commercial games </li></ul><ul><li>Still an emergent field </li></ul><ul><li>New theories of learning </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult to assess </li></ul>
  23. 30. Opportunities <ul><li>Open and new area in SA (in Africa) </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile games </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive fiction game on MXit </li></ul>
  24. 31. Thank you <ul><li>Steve Vosloo </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>