Learning and Games Workshop – Monday Sept 24

Dr Konstantin Mitgutsch of MIT will be visiting San Jose State and presenting on this topic in King Library 225 at 2 pm Monday September 24 —

Are videogames constructive learning and teaching tools? About the potentials, limits, and challenges of digital games for education.

The debate on whether playing fosters or obstructs learning reaches back to the roots of the institutionalization of education in general. However, this dispute reached a new level with the introduction of digital games. Today games have conquered the classrooms – but the question if the formal educational space is ready for the constructive implementation of video games remains unanswered.

The fact that players achieve an enormous amount of information through playing digital games seems undeniable (see Gee 2003), but even so we still have only little knowledge of how players learn through playing. In addition, we lack knowledge on how teachers can use games and how their role as teachers changes through the introduction of video games. Therefore, the question of how players learn in games and what impact the digitalization of play has on their experiences is a major task for educational research. In the last few years a new trend of designing video games intended to fulfill a serious purpose through impacting the players in real life contexts has emerged. These games claim to raise awareness about social and political issues such as inequity, injustice, poverty, racism, sexism, exploitation, and oppression. Their intent is to reach a specific purpose beyond pure entertainment. But what are the specific attributes of purposeful games and how can they be researched? How do players make meaning of their game play experiences in general? And what is the future of purposeful and educational games?

In this talk three perspectives of Mitgutsch’s recent research on purposeful games are outlined: To begin, central insights on the – learning theoretical – foundations of games will be outlined and confronted with 7 central dimension of learning environments in the 21st century. In the second part, a research-based game design project on subversive game design and recursive learning is presented and the background of the games Afterland (2010) and Movers and Shakers (2012) designed at MIT is highlighted. Finally, the three levels of informational, critical and transformational learning based on video games will be explored and ways for teachers to use video games in classrooms will be discussed.

Games explored within the workshop are: Sweatshop (http://www.playsweatshop.com/); Afterland (http://gambit.mit.edu/loadgame/afterland.php); Movers and Shakers (http://gambit.mit.edu/loadgame/moversandshakers.php) Labyrinth (http://labyrinth.thinkport.org/www/); and Zoo Tycoon 2 (http://zootycoon.com/Downloads/demos.htm)

Dr. Konstantin Mitgutsch is a post-doctoral researcher at MIT Game Lab and a Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna. In 2010 he was a Max Kade Fellow at the Education Arcade at the Program of Comparative Media Studies at MIT. He worked at the University of Vienna for several years and published books in the field of game studies and education. Since 2007 he organizes and chairs the annual Vienna Games Conference FROG and is on the expert council of the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) – the European age rating system.

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