The point of a personal blog is to document a process. In this case, I’m at a point with video games and childhood where I view colonised ‘edu’ games with absolute suspicion. I’d welcome any links to methods or studies which show regular game to edu cut down has positive impacts (or negative). I can’t find any in the literature (talking post 2001).
Some people create educational games, and others see retail opportunity. Let’s not confuse scholarship with opportunism. This seems to be growing trend in education, the marketing short cut that leads to a few making money at the expense of the many making sense.
If your colonised “edu” game holds any merit, please provide method, data, analysis, link. If not, why is it in the classroom at all.
You are right. Way too many posts about; general disillusionment with the helmet industry and scarcity of horns, Technological and economic determinism towards flooding classrooms with branded products. The greed before evidence approach to repackaging perfectly good commercial games into corrupt authoritarian look a likes on the basis that schools will buy them.
I’m in denial, and shall not obsess further. Instead, I look forward to next summer, and the excuse to have some fun with fast passes. July looks good to me.
I play games because I enjoy them. I started playing more when I saw how much my kids did. Its only years later that I’ve come to wonder how as a family we’ve constructed numerous rituals, insider language and shared memories though playing them. It took me a few seconds to click on this paper when it appeared in my alerts this week.
(Shafer, 2013) investigates the notion of ‘enjoyment’ in console and mobile tablet games. This paper explores the differences in perceptions of enjoyment between playing first person shooter games on consoles and tablet computers. The main argument is that enjoyment has three predictors; interactivity, realism and spacial presence. The hypothesis was that was that console games exceed tablets in relation to enjoyment. The method was a randomised experiment with 257 players. This paper contributes to the debates on player motivation, convergence, literacy and human behaviour. It concluded that “perceptions of interactivity, reality and spacial presence as well as evaluations of skill, all blend to produce enjoyment” and that “console games are perceived as more interactive and more realistic, which increases enjoyment of them beyond their mobile counterparts” (p.153).
This is one of the few studies that has sought to introduce ‘enjoyment’ as a key element of effort towards labour. The study showed that perceived interactivity, perceived reality, spacial presence and skill significantly and positively predicted enjoyment. In regard to potential application towards education, these factors could be aligned to the nature of computer activity (some devices are perceived more enjoyable), whether the activity has a observable outcome related to the task, the classroom environment (and the student place in that space) and their perception of their skill towards the activity.
There are some limitations with the study which the author acknowledges; the differences in interface control, the use of sample students and the limitations of the variable used due to this being an exploratory study. However previous studies of this type have been broadly seen as representative of game-player demographics (at this age). Furthermore, this method cannot reliably account for the choice of games children play at home – nor explain how they come to know about and want to play certain games and not others. In summary, what the study did show was a preference towards consoles for enjoyment of FPS games.
Stepping outside my research-head for a second, FPS are popular games, and so students might be keen to play them (especially when rewarded with credit points). However, anyone who’s every played a FPS would wince at the idea of playing it on a tablet, if the alternative was console. If a further alternative was a PC then I would hypothesise that would be the most enjoyable. This illustrate how complex it is to try and measure human behaviour and emotions around video games. Having said that, the introduction of ‘enjoyment’ as a variable into play (and learning is part of play) is one of the first I’ve seen.
In the short history of ‘gamification’, which emerged after PEW announce 97% of teens play games (2008) no work has focused on the ‘enjoyment’ of learning using games. Games are used towards what (Juul, 2005) describes as concerned with using games to study human matters, and that insight into games themselves has been incidental to this research.
It would be interesting to use adapt this study towards methods of teaching with technology such as ‘flipped classrooms’ to discover whether of not students found them more enjoyable. It seems to me that joy is critical influencer on my learning and strange that ‘being enjoyable’ is a factor missing from much of the assertions being made about “better than” debates among online-discursive educators.
Juul J. (2005). Half-real : video games between real rules and fictional worlds. Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press.
Shafer, D. M. (2013). An Integrative Model of Predictors of Enjoyment in Console versus Mobile Video Games. PsychNology Journal.
One of the numerous misconceptions people have about techology is the power of Internet. Few realise store fronts and downloadable content (DLC) were available via home video consoles in the late 70s well before Tim Berner’s Lee tuned it into a static book by coming up with a few data-transfer protocols. Even by 2005, there was more access to the Internet via games consoles than computers or mobile phone. In fact many researchers at the time, described consoles as a place rather than a device. In terms of game-engineering, turning on static text and images in a window was a simple task in comparison to global networking of game play and user subscriptions.
Today, Internet users take store-fronts and e-commerce for granted. Everyone just assumes you can buy anything online and where it’s made from data, delivery is instant. One problem with educations quaint depictions of media literacy (sorry, I mean DIGITAL literacy) is that they are parochial and significantly under-estimates the sophistication and complexity of games when it comes to micro-transactions, DLC and motivation to spend real money on virtual goods.
In children, especially younger children the line between a ‘real toy’ and a ‘virtual toy’ is at best a dinner conversation for adults. In addition, I’m going to start using the term Home Entertainment Video Gaming Console (HEVGC) more, partly to honour the brilliance of Ralf H. Baer’s ‘Odessey’ and to remind myself of the deep legacy in the world of online entertainment that can be attributed – not to Tim Berners Lee, but to Baer and some madcap rivalry in the mid 70s.
In fact, it was because of Baer we now have Smart-TVs and home computers and access to the Internet on more than computers. Up until then, everyone assumed computers were for Universities and big industry. It was his brilliant idea to make standard TV sets display games (and therefore act as computer monitors). It was also his idea to patent it, and licence it to Magnavox (a one time giant of home electronics). It is thanks to Baer that society saw another use for TV-sets, and decades on have voted with their feet away from consuming television, as TV-set manufacturers and content producers did to film, radio and magazines. Now TV-sets were dialogic - able to inform media and is continually informed by the previous media work. It is, if you like, the spawn-point of remediation itself – the reason Lord of the Rings influenced more than print-readers. Baer turned play into reading – and I think needs much more cultural credit that he ever gets.
The problem now is that games can become “skinner boxes”, which is the term used to describe games which plead for micropayments. As games engineers came up with better ways to get users to buy and download content, now they are just as adept at offering free or what look almost free games – then slug parents for items. Some games should not be tarred with the brush I’d slap Activision or Zanga with willingly. Some actually make make in-game micro-gets part of the overall culture of the games. Team Fortress for example occupies my 8 year old for hours when it comes to earning, trading and negotiating keys for unlock-able crates. It’s amazing how many cars he’ll wash for the equivalent of Mars Bar in an economic sense. It’s also a great way for me to talk to him about gaming – how they work, what to expect and how to avoid getting ripped off.
I’ve also come to realise that micro-payment management is a parenting skill that generally becomes critical after your kids has gone ape with the credit card that has attached itself to their parents mobile phone. The debate rages over the ethics, legality and morality of opt-out micropayment games … but be assured, because it works, because it’s worth billions (not millions) there will be newer and more frustrating traps for the unaware. Micro-transactions are not however unique to games – plenty of short-cuts (life hacks) appear to be on offer online; from getting tickets to a show earlier; getting the answers to a term paper or discounts of luxury goods. I don’t think Ralf Baer saw much of this when he called up every TV-set maker in America with his revolutionary idea about box that could play tennis (sort of) – and that really is my point – the dangerous experts out there, whom tell parents especially what the future will be – actually can’t see much past a year or so. Most of them live in the near past, hoping you’re behind them as they amaze audiences with their knowledge. Nope, parents needs bottom-line help in mediating, regulating and managing games. Games are part of electronic media (and pre-date most other forms) – yet most parents know relatively little about how they work.
Blip – thanks for your payment.
Advice from PC Gamer: Item stores that sell objects that affect your in-game performance are risky. If a game sells guns/cars that can’t be earned any other way then treat that as a big alarm bell. Even if those items can be earned through progress, it helps to favour games with good matchmaking services and large player bases, which can smooth out balance issues.
Don’t pay too much attention to big data claims because the truth is, if you draw enough circles you can prove pretty much anything. In 2008, the much quoted PEW Internet research into teens, games and (strangely fuzzy) civics in American life proclaimed 97% of all American teens play video games. The web lit up, as the big-number was scribed onto corporate websites such as the Entertainment Software Association and even academic blogs as well known media, game and culture celebrities welcomed a new era – one which enabled the now infamous “gamification” industry. 2008 saw the first documented use of the term gameification a blog post by Bret Terrill. A round of applause for all concerned, as since then this single report was sufficient to catapult several now high profile writers and public figures into a new ecosphere which is literally worth billions of dollars. I’m writing this post today to review this seminal research and let you consider the depths and agenda of the gamification foundations.
Gartner (who added gamification to the hype cycle in 2011) says it will fall in a pile by 2014, unable to return revenue or show significant productivity increases across industries. The reason for this they say is bad design and in-ability of senior leaders to understand the underlying principle of gamification and how to apply it within the IT organization. This seems strangely familiar from my own efforts to introduce an ethnographic, exploration of an imaginative use of Minecraft into primary school in the same time period. It almost didn’t matter what theoretical basis that came from, it wasn’t labelled “edu” so was never going to understood to a point it could compete with simplistic purchasing of tablets and “edu” apps. So why then, if 97% of teens were playing video games at the very moment ‘gamification’ appeared on the corporate landscape are games still considered a counter-narrative to mainstream educational methods and practice?
What is interesting about looking back at this research is that 95% of the games reported in the top 10 have vanished from view, ported to mobile phones or updated in series. To some, it would suggests that games have a short-life-span and/or that gamers have a short attention-span. This would seem common-sense. Like television, the writers and producers need to keep the story moving if the audience is to keep watching. Amazingly, the number one game they found wasn’t The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998) which is widely considered by gamers to be the number on game ever, nor was it Mass Effect 2 or Half-Life 2 or any of the MMOs which academics such as Yee proposed are the apex of high-game culture such as Eve Online or Warcraft. Nope, it was Guitar Hero. And why not. It’s safe, conservative and won’t draw any attention. Seriously? If your parents (who pay little attention to your gaming) ask what you’re playing – say Guitar Hero. My point here is that kids might not tell you want they are playing for plenty of reasons.
Interestingly, Tetris made in the top ten without comment by the researchers. How could they not comment about TETRIS, released in 1984 on PC and Commodore 64. This suggests to me, that those being interviewed didn’t understand the question – I would put forward that Tetris made it simply because the adult answering the phone in the house was more likely to remember TETRIS that Ocarina of Time or any other game.
Really great games, like great books, movies, music and television have an ongoing audience, but they also require people to know of them (in culture) in order to respond with more than a guess or deep memory grab. In the case of Tetris, I suggest it’s there simply because it is a cornerstone of popular cultural knowledge towards video games and invalidates the method.
In terms of sales, in 2008 this was the top 10 list (on consoles) according to Kotaku which most gamers believe to be closer to reality than say the NYT.
01. Wii Play (Wii) – 5,280,000
02. Mario Kart Wii (Wii) – 5,000,000
03. Wii Fit (Wii) – 4,530,000
04. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) – 4,170,000
05. Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360) – 3,290,000
06. Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360) – 2,750,000
07. Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360) – 2,310,000
08. Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3) – 1,890,000
09. Madden NFL 09 (XBox 360) – 1,870,000
10. Mario Kart DS (DS) – 1,650,000
Having said that, scroll down to the comments and you’ll see plenty of in-culture controversy of both the list and the platforms. You see, even gamers (which make up big numbers) don’t agree on their own big numbers and they actually play games.
This disconnect between sales figures, in-game knowledge and research methods points to the need for researchers to abandon the ‘broad brush’ approach. We can’t discuss film as though all films are the same, or can be represented with the same characteristics, so why do it with games?
To my mind, researcher interested in young people’s use of new media has to include games alongside other media which combine to cause parent anxiety in equal measure to media which might promote learning, creativity or improved civic behaviour. Right now, that list would clearly include Minecraft, League of Legends, Skylanders, Call of Duty and Angry Birds. Grand Theft Auto has become the poster-child of ‘violence’ and Warcraft is the ugly addicted cousin somewhat ‘uncool’ to write about in objective journalism right now. We can’t separate these games from popular culture however, which has been a district trend in the past – resulting in sensational ‘big data’ headlines such as 97% of teens are gamers (read: rebels without a clue).
I believe the next trend in mainstream journalism with further raise media-panic about geo-location devices, sharing childrens data and of course consoles which are sending live data feeds to the NSA and Russian Mafia. For many kids, society is disconnected from their reality, and games are hardly responsible for, or an anti-dote to political and economic greed which is disenfranchising young people from the ‘norms’ of neo-conversative politic and billionaire greed. Games, won’t save the world – nor is reality broken. In fact if you’re made it on TED, written a best seller and regularly appearing at red carpet events, you’ve mostly managed to create your own, rather sumptuous reality I guess. The need for introducing debutant media-studies courses into a robust, contemporary high school curriculum just isn’t as sexy as big numbers or big ideas worth schlocking. There’s a problem with media, game, culture and educational researchers who reach for the sensationalist headline over the ongoing argument that media-studies is needed in school- age education and has been for years. But how do you design a curriculum for media-studies that effectively excludes popular cultural media-texts which are too complex for exams? – Simply, you just ignore it and use big data to prove whatever your are doing is correct. Even better, fund groups who appear on the surface to represent you’re progressive intent. It’s a scene from Yes Minister really.
In the design of the PEW research, it is unclear what is meant by ‘video-games’. This also true of media reports about video-games (in society) as cultural literature. The most critical flaw for me in the design is that it omitted to consider the style of parenting in the household that might allow ‘video-games’ in the first place. Without have some underpinning familie profile to draw upon, the term family is too simplistic – does it relate to single parents, same-sex couples or the modernist nuclear family? For research, these problems are complex and so most media-studies is looking for rich data, subjectivity and the user voice, rather than “the audience”.
Big data research (esp, quantitative) is also fleeting it seems. In 2013, PEW says 15% of Americans don’t use the Internet at all. I find that bizarre given almost all games in the top 10 mobile, console and computer sales chart all use the Internet, and presumably, some of the 97% of gamers have now abandoned their games and the internet. This analysis conflicts with numerous ‘industry’ reports which suggests most people are not simply online, but using two or three devices at the same time!
There’s also a problem with the method of data collection. In 2008 it was on the cusp of ‘really?’ and now its most definitely in ‘quaint’. Just over 1000 households, randomly sampled were given a telephone call and over the phone interview. From this, the method claimed to be representative of American life and gaming. In Australia, as around the world, households have been abandoning fixed line telephones for years in favour of mobile. This 2008 method today would not capture the American, UK or Australian life. Firstly most people who switched, switched to smart-phones (which play games) and secondly any telephone random sample would miss a significant proportion of families which are media-rich.
Big data claims are synonymous with the technological and economic determinism being touted as ‘online culture’. From hook-up culture to gaming culture, various commercial, political, economic, religious and academic interests find great value in flinging big data at us to push us in one direction or another – and most of their assertions are based on simplistic binary oppositions such as good parents and bad parents, safe internet and dangerous internet. It’s a 24/7 parade of what James Gee calls “dangerous experts”.
On the 5th of November, it might be worth pointing out that millions of people are under the gaze of technological surveillance and that researches with un-clear agendas don’t need to call the public for their opinion. They can gather plenty of data from the hyper-connected landscape or simply buy it from technology giants. Today would be as good a day as any to buy yourself a VPN subscription, to learn how to tunnel your mobile or use an anonymous browser. It would also be a good day to decide – the next time I hear an sensational claim about the Internet though objective journalism – I will ask for the data and think critically about why I am being told this here and now.
John Hartley (Curtin University) in his excellent book Digital futures for cultural and media studies (2012) makes some compelling arguments for re-focusing research on human behaviour inside a media rich world. Towards the current era of interactivity, social networks and the Internet enables ‘the people’ to challenge how they are represented by representing themselves, making decisions, choices and taking direct action. He argues “we are directly productive of both meanings and actions” (p.21). He explains that this interactive user productivity requires media and cultural studies to focus on “the causes and mechanisms of change” and not just “the oppositions within them” (p.22).
In a race to decide ‘which brand is best’ there seems an increasing gap between people interested in working out ‘why and how’ we negotiate the media choices we do – and an emphasis on speculation where we try many things and stick with none for very long at all. The distinction between ‘old’ practice and ‘new’ practice is not longer signalled by the type of media used in the classroom – but increasingly, the brand and associations with celebrities.
The first decade of “edtech” was all about oppositions, where “the people” (teachers, students, parents) were represented but never invited to really participate a two-way dialogic model where everyone was seen to be productive. For example: Sir Ken Robinson, who’s monologue on creativity is seen as a seminal TED-Talk doesn’t believe you or I are productive peers. He doesn’t engage with people online the way William Shatner or Kurt Sutter do most weeks on Twitter. Similarly many ‘top rank’ educators ignore lesser educators on social media. The difference between Sutter and Robinson is that one understands the power of media and the other thinks social media gives them new power.
In fact, in order for ‘high-rank’ people to be plucked from the crowd, these oppositions became a central theme in an un-equal exchange. The original “dangerously irrelevant” metaphor has given way to “dangerous experts” where the high-ranks, place too much stead in their social-authority and over-estimate their correctness. By avoiding ‘low-rank’ users, they fail to pick up on ideas (and media) they under-estimate. Yet we are all active-producers of media as well as consumers. We are all entrepreneurs, adventurers and worthy of being treated as equals in the subjective co-constructed fantasy.
But we’re not equals are we. Social media is not universally liberating and open (yet). Hartley discusses how we are seen by producers (those who determine what media best for the reading public, such as TED Talks) as part of a commercial value-chain rather than a dialogue. I’ve said that this happens with people, but it also happens with objects. For example it also occurs in MOOCs (or rather xMOOCS). Their elite producers have taken the idea of the reading public (potential students) to encompass the entire planet. Furthermore, it’s offered to the planet via habituated content though venture capitalists, scientists and intellectuals – the very people with the most to lose from declining cultural alignment with print media. The lack of actual qualification as the end of a MOOC is symbolic of their skepticism of “the people” in their MOOCs to be creative and productive. As Hartley points out, new media still seen as “demotic and unworthy – even untruthful” (p.25).
Although users of MOOCs are a potential paying audience who have learned to use ‘new media’ towards their own productivity and emancipation from hegemonic structures such as schools – this innovative ‘second chance’ to re-engage with learning’ is represented as a philanthropic effort by those with existing authority towards the rest of society.
If the the purpose of MOOCs is not to make money, it’s not too hard to draw on Hartley’s ideas. A MOOC (as a media object) can successfully insist on the control culture of the expert and perpetuate the unworthiness of open innovation networks. That has an economic, political and social value. It’s no wonder Stephen Downes is asking what happened to Open Educational Resources and networked knowledge.
In effect even if MOOCs lose millions, they are useful in the stand-off between ‘print media’ ownership and the global abandonment of it. As mass education remains loyal to the idea of scarcity and the cognitive apprenticeship, xMOOCs signal the futher use of oppositions in media. A ‘real’ educational experience is provided by an institution at significant student cost. The student is not in control of the learning process or the outcome. If that isn’t okay – then do a MOOC or hang out with the pauper-press-gallery while we (the experts) figure out a way to shut it down.
It’s basic game-tactics. Keeps the adds busy why the hero takes out the boss and collects the rewards.
Here’s why I think blogging remains a useful experience for young children.
In the 1800s, the rapid industrialization of Britain gave rise to two nations. The working class and the political class. The political class read the Times, the working class (the reading public) had the Northern Star and the Poor Man’s Guardian. The latter, known as the pauper press, were physically attacked by the government: their premises raided, property seized and employees imprisoned.
Now remind me why technology has created political emancipation. It’s also worth pointing out they is no journalism without reaction (Hunter. S. Thompson) and that journalists see popular culture subjectively favoring sexual gossip, scandal and innuendo or objectively (to be featured and controlled).
Trying to combine journalism, culture and education is difficult because New media cannot readily escape older supplant older traditions. What has changed is the ability of ruling classes to raid the locations of citizen journalism and peer to peer social networks. The result is increasing surveillance and objective journalism which uses short turn truth. Politicians routinely change their views in the media without lasting effect on their credibility and the reading public is tweeting so fast nothing remains in the field of view for more than a few minutes unless it is scandalous, speculated our other rabble rousing muck.
If teachers are to instill digital literacy in children, they might also consider whether the media they consume is objective or subjective. Given keynote speakers often say their job is to get a reaction, then they are journalists.for I’d argue that children need to know about this, so that they are seen as part of a democratic process, rather than fiction.
While blogging isn’t as cool as it once was, it remains an essential media tool. Edublogs is more useful to children and society because it continue the tradition of journalism. Interestingly, Google documents continues the commercial ambition of office automaton.
I make this point because so much of what appears to food the educational technology feed is about which tool is better, rather than considering the reason your being told about it now. Commercial popularly is no real reason to introduce any technology to students.
Edublogs treats children as journalists who are able to create news and deliver it to the public. In an increasingly throw away culture, I still think edublogs (or blogs in general) because the journalist is able and willing to take advice. Culturally this is better than taking advice as judgement or being sucked into the sensationalism and rivalry of social media popularity contests.
Schools are not coffee shops nor are they an audition for popular culture festivals (conferences, conventions, meetings). It seems to me that all kids can learn a lot from being a journalist about their own topics, and learn nothing from being the subject of other people’s.
I’m not sure how old edublogs is now, but it’s still a great way to introduce kids to media and journalism.
Back in the mid-2000s, there was this cynical idea that many teachers, administrators and managers were “dangerously irrelevant”. Using unique positions of authority, backed by hundreds of years of modernist mass-educational policy and ‘research’ a relative few were the central body responsible for preventing “our kids” being creative and successful in the kind of cultures that scholars such as Jenkins had begun blogging about. This all occurred at an epoch where relatively few people had the skills to create ‘blogs’ and exploited this to remediate much of the scholarship locked inside academic journals toward mass-media consumption. Gone was the dense language of academia in favour of pithy phrases and jargon2.0.
Gee and Foulton are critical of the narrow definitions of ‘literacy’ emerging from new media. They argue that the focus on simple-text-based augmentation of existing reading and writing tools serves to create ‘dangerous experts’. I have to say I agree. Decades into this debate, billions of dollars have flowed to narrow channels (individuals and organisations) and little has emerged to suggest it has improved existing educational models, let alone created new ones. But as they once said “It’s been a good war for some”.
The Dangerous Expert Effect. Big Data and recent research have shown that credentialed experts in a great many domains make very poor predictions (no better than chance) and that their predictions get worse, not better, when they get more data. Such experts often under-value what they don’t know, over-value what they do know, and look at data through unwarranted generalizations to which they are professionally attached. Networked groups of people and tools, using diverse perspectives, make better predictions – Gee & Foulton, 2013.
Parents should be suspicious and critical of ongoing technological and economic determinism being applied by ‘dangerous experts’. These under-value many media-texts (not least games) failing to address their significance in culture as part of reading and writing (though play). Each expert tends to take a ‘slice’ of a socially negotiated “safe” area in which to establish their credentials and market. There are tacit rules about how to behave, what to say or not to say, which emerges in culture though various media representations such as blogs, videos and events.
They fail to address HOW to build a community of self-ware, patient, kind children. Their actions try to push children and teachers into the toxic, negative and vile pool of current ‘social media’ and ‘tabloid culture’, regardless of their readiness. They ignore the failure of successive filtering policies and cyber-safety programs to make the space “safe”.
Their willingness to endorse software brands and their friends takes precedence over their willingness to SHOW teachers, kids and parents EXACTLY how to access the mind’s hidden treasures of self-confidence, awareness and self worth (rhetoric rich, evidence poor). Most of all, dangerous experts are NOT interested in children anchoring their own power in their own culture.
This to me is a huge civil rights issue. Unless I am mistaken, teachers are still working in the same contractual arrangements now as ten years ago. No new time or money appears to flow to the vast majority of teachers under increasing media and political pressure to ‘change’. An important question is: a change to what? – evidence based scholarship or popular culture entertainment?
Anchoring power should allow children to know that ‘choosing to be me’ has no rival when it comes to their future. While it’s easy to use media representations of beauty to argue children are being mislead, similar representations are made about the ideal academic child growing up digital with their blogs, wikis and YouTube channels.
What parents and teachers need to ask is: how will THIS classroom technology improve my childs impulse-control; how will THIS method make them more accepting of other people and ideas; how much perspective has THIS expert got about the media that actually use in society; what makes THIS person accountable for what they are saying and doing?