Thursday, April 27, 2006

Which is better, playing COTS games or building games?

Thanks Bill for your comments to my previous blog
"So, why do you think building games is better than playing off the shelf (COTS) games?
v. interesting to see world of warcraft in action the other night, with a young expert in control. Has he learnt more from playing or building?"

COTS games or game creation
Well firstly, what I see with WoW is different learning than I see discussed in relation to COTS. The COTS enthusiasts talk about using RollerCoaster Tycoon to look at kinematics or Age of Mythology to look at history. Its a bit of a square peg in a round hole, an attempt to sugar coat instruction.

What I see in WoW is that the game is the education, not the game is used for education. The learning relates to the social structures in WoW. Children get to interact with adults in teams and undertake team endeavours which require a high level of planning and coordination. They buy and sell at auction and learn about a market economy and much more.

Drama, art, music and sport have long been recognised as activities with educational value. The COTS stuff is a bit like saying that we'll use football to teach newtonian mechanics or use the school play to teach the times table!

Do you learn more from playing or building?
Is 10 apples > 15 oranges??
Its different learning. Game creation for mathematics, physics, metacognitive strategies and affective gains. WoW for the social skills that Clark Aldrich refers to .

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One has to be careful about the "social skills" aspect. Like the social skills gained from golf, the military or living in Antarctica, they can be very useful in one setting and useless in another. Do we have evidence that the ability to lead a troop of elves and halflings is transferable to other settings?

Thursday, April 27, 2006 3:30:00 PM  
Blogger Mark Piper said...

Great blog Tony. Well done. You realise of course that WOW is actually COTS (commercial off the shelf) BUT....

What makes WOW substantially different to Roller Coaster Tycoon and the like is the degree to which players interact and construct the play of the game.

One key aspect that I have picked up from the research about engaging digital natives is the extent to which they customise and construct their ICT experience.

Last year I took a school group to Brisbane to visit QANTM multimedia training. One major aspect of their "curriculum" is to have the students setup multi-user games that both students and teachers then play together across the network.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 3:43:00 PM  
Blogger Tony Forster said...

Thanks anonymous
"Do we have evidence that the ability to lead a troop of elves and halflings is transferable to other settings?"

No we don't. But then we have very little evidence that sport, drama are transferable to the board room. What little evidence supports sport, supports games too. http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/dhfs/docs/MSSsportsbrief.pdf

The lack of evidence hasn't stopped schools devoting large resources to sport and drama or stopped educators praising their benefits for "team work" and leadership.

But you are right evidence would be great.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:20:00 PM  
Blogger Bill Kerr said...

in reply to the anonymous post about lack of transfer of "social skills":

Being a golfer, soldier, Antarctic explorer and half-elf. Do we have evidence that useful transfer of some skills does not occur? Even though it is difficult to "proove" I would be amazed if useful transfer did not occur. Does it follow that because some things are hard to proove we should take a default position that transfer is not occuring?

Real people do not deal with the real world as idealised disembodied "scientists" but instead use common sense. I would say that we "know" deeply that transfer occurs based on our own lived experience and common sense.

There is an extended discussion on the learning involved in James Gee's book: What Video Games Have to TEach us about Learning and Literacy? Ch. 3: Learning and Identity: What does it mean to be a half-elf?

Some of his claims:
* Learners can take risks in a space where real-world consequences are lowered
* Learners participate in an extended engagement (lots of effort and practice) as extensions of their real world identities in relation to a virtual identity to which they feel some commitment and a virtual world that they find compelling
etc.

These are just 2 points out of about 9 cognitive learning principles he explores in this chapter alone.

Thursday, April 27, 2006 4:27:00 PM  
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