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13/01/2008

How Gamers Will Save The World

Inutile de précher à des convaincus: si vous lisez ce blog, c'est que vous en avez peut être conscience. Le jeu vidéo n'est pas qu'un divertissement.

 

Ces derniers temps, le succès commercial de l'industrie attire un peu d'attention médiatique et politique sur le jeu vidéo.  Et les critiques sont la plupart du temps très négatives - au même titre que ce qui a pu être écrit au sujet des comics, du rock, ou plus récemment, des mangas.

 

L'article suivant défend la thése "positiviste" du jeu vidéo:

 

And then there are the games that are being used in classrooms to teach subjects as varied as sociology and mathematics. Games, it seems, grab the attention of younger students for much longer than standard textbook and blackboard routines (who’d have guessed?) and they’re increasingly being adapted to classroom uses by progressive and gaming-savvy teachers. It’ll be a long time before off-the-shelf games arrive on standard curricula, but they’re already making headway.

 

James Paul Gee’s book ‘What Videogames Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy’ has become a popular subject for reference in academic and scholarly circles, and the news is starting to filter down to everyday teachers too. Gee argues that games teach us “proactively”: they ask gamers to do something, and we want to do it. This is, he suggests, rather different to the way students respond to the way they are taught in schools.

 

Gee looked at dozens of games and identified teaching principles in them. The way they use a minimal amount of verbal instruction, for example: people are generally poor at following verbal instructions and games recognise this. Try remembering complex directions given to you when you’re trying to find somewhere: anything more than two lines is usually too much.

 

Games generally only deliver verbal instruction when absolutely necessary. Gee also noted that games encourage us to learn by enabling us to master skills and then use them, before providing us with new challenges. Think about how you learn to use a particular unit in an RTS like Command & Conquer, before later having to come up with new solutions to defeat a counter-unit that thwarts you. Standard learning doesn’t usually give us time to master something and use it before we move on to something else. Gee also recognised that games are, as Sid Meier described them, “a series of interesting choices” and as such stimulate quite different responses from the people who play them to those invoked by textbook and blackboard teaching, especially when combined with investment in a character.

 

Gee suggests that if we could be taught science by identifying with a ‘scientist’ character in the same way we’re taught to identify with a game character, we might be a little more committed to learning about science. Gee is not alone in his quest Software association ELSPA has made a number of attempts to illustrate how games and learning are linked.

 

Their 2006 paper ‘Unlimited Learning’ sets out the argument for games as tools in the overall process of learning and education in schools. We could imagine, for example, a boardgame or pen and paper roleplaying game based on running a school, but add to this a computer, 3D planning systems, and the ability to control realtime calculations of costs as they will be encountered in the real world and you suddenly have something both accessible to children and complex enough to teach adult ideas.

 

One school in Birmingham opted for exactly this kind of approach. A contributor to the ELSPA report explained how it worked: “We were originally going to use SimCity 4 but thought it too detailed for the one-and-a-half hours we had the children. School Tycoon [a commercial product] allowed us to get the children to develop their spatial thinking skills, fiscal skills, numeracy and even social awareness.

 

Many did not realise the jobs that are entailed in running a school and how essential they are. The pupils were given cards to make their own ‘physical’ school within a budget and were then shown the software. They were allowed to play in the ‘sandbox’ mode for an hour and then we print-screened the final school with financial and academic results to determine who had been successful.”

 

 

[ Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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