Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Talking About Games...

I met Andrew Brown earlier in the week and we had a quick chat about BETT, the frustrations of site blocking in schools and... games in education.

A few of the things we said about games are, I think, worth repeating here.

Firstly, I said that roughly a quarter of the students I spoke to, claimed to be gamers. This illustrates something that Ewan McIntosh has said to our students on previous occasions - that the children who grew up playing games on home computers like the ZX Spectrum are now adults, parents even, and are still playing computer games. Andrew said that he had been surprised at the number of Playstation games in the shops with an 18+ rating. The image of the game player as a spotty teenage boy no longer holds water (if it ever did). {Comment: Having said that, I suspect there a a fair number of gamers under 18 who are playing 18+ games. Perhaps their parents are unaware, uncaring or uninformed.}

Another aspect related to gaming that struck me is the way Nintendo is advertising its products. It has families sitting on the couch playing games together and two people on a plane (Patrick Stewart and Julie Walters) bonding over More Brain Training on the DS.

As far as Nintendo is concerned, it is not just the spotty teenager bit that's wrong, the the stereotype of the isolated loner playing games is wrong too. I realise that most (all?) the modern games machines support networked multipayer games but Nintendo are going further. Gaming is a communal, family activity.

Does this have any relevance for games in education? I think it probably does. Increasing numbers of teachers will be gamers themselves and aware of the motivating power and immersive nature of commercial, off the shelf games. This combined with the rehabilitation of gamers in the media as mature, sensible adults and happy family members will hopefully make it easier to introduce games in he classroom.

Is this right? Am I being over overoptimistic? I'd be keen to know what you think.

I'll try to post my presentation on games in education soon (which draws heavily on the work of Derek Robertson). For now though I'll close with the observation that playing virtual tennis on the Wii has resulted in a very unvirtual pain in my arm! I made the mistake of trying to make up for lack of technique with brute strength... it didn't work. :-(


mimanifesto said...

I can atest to everything Andrew has said and Derek has worked on. We use all the games consoles extensively across the curriculum in our learning community, and have been using on-line games in GLOW for over a year now. The motivating and engaging power of all of these is amazing, and I'm now finding my inbox being swamped with requests from colleagues for help and advice and bookings - all to do with teaching and learning using on line and console based games.
Maybe Jordanhill and the other TEI's should think about introducing a gams based learning elective into the PGDE courses ?

mimanifesto said...

Sorry for the typos David :-(

should, of course have been attest and games...



David said...

I hadn't even noticed the typos until you pointed them out. :-)

Where in the curriculum are you using the consoles?

I know Derek was doing stuff with games at Dundee before he went to the Consolarium. He was the external examiner for one of our courses and was always encouraging us to introduce games. I wonder if I can find someone that will buy us some kit.

Andy McSwan said...

The kids here are pretty excited at being allowed to play games in class. It's a wonderful tool to get them interested in the subject and develop skills.

I've grown up with video games, I remember playing Wipeout on the PS1 when it first came out and being amazed, 12 years on and games have advanced so much we have games that monitor health (PSHE and PE), quick fire calculations (Maths) and the DS now has E-Book software (English/Literacy).

Nintendo are changing the view of what a gamer is however it will take some time to convince parents and some teachers of it's value in education.

mimanifesto said...

Hi David

Using games within the science and maths curricula in P7/S1 and S3/4...even at Intermediate 2 biology. The kids don't even realise they are covering the various course LO's most of the time as they get so engrossed in the games, but the knowledge appears to sink in deep. Very effective transfer from ST to LT memory. Recall is improved due to memory association I think as well


David said...

Hello Andy

It's interesting to see snippets in your blog about what you are doing with Guitar Hero. Hope to see some of your pupils' gigs reviews soon.

Hello Jaye

Is Glow/LTS doing research on the value of these games (like Derek did with the Dr Kawishima stuff)? From your first message it looks like you have a number of staff involved - is it mostly the science department?