I have always been fascinated by psychology and the reasons for our actions. This curiosity includes why we are drawn to gaming and the explosion that is the gaming world. There are many factors that I have considered thus far. Some of which came from Keith Stuart’s post.
I, as well as many, love puzzles. Succeeding in the attempt to solve a complex issue or game is thrilling. It is also enticing and difficult for me to ‘put down’. This makes gaming a fun and interesting way to learn.
Beyond puzzles and games, there is the entertainment value of gaming. Magic, triumph over evil, dream-worlds, or interesting characters entice the player. Interesting story lines that keep us wanting more also help.
Escaping our own world where we may feel inadequate and joining a world in which we are superior is an obvious draw. I consider friends and members of my own family who choose gaming over many real-world experiences because of the satisfaction and success they feel when playing. They do not feel the same success in their personal lives, causing them to go back into the gaming world.
There is also a social aspect to gaming that cannot be ignored. I know that I can feel more comfortable working with someone online versus in person on a problem as I feel less judged and more accepted in the gaming world. Our own feelings of inadequacy are often not evident when we are in a virtual world. We are who we choose to be, and that can include a higher level of esteem and confidence.
Understanding the reasons behind the explosive success of gaming, an educator is able to reflect and understand both their learner and how to meet their needs. Understanding the reasons a learner feels the need to escape in gaming can help the educator build upon the learner’s strengths as well as how to build upon their weaknesses. Empowering a learner and helping them realize their potential is a goal of educators. Why then, would we ignore a source of this empowerment? Gaming can be the means to reaching our learners and helping bridge the confidence they have in gaming to their lack of confidence in the ‘real-world’.
My experience with narrative gaming is very limited. I wasn’t very interested in the early games that existed when I was in elementary school. I didn’t see the excitement in the narrative experience and found it to be dull. I think the first time I noticed someone truly enjoying narrative gaming was when I saw the movie “Big” in elementary school.
Going back and playing as an adult, I can see how other would enjoy the experience. It is much like a puzzle that needs to be solved. I can see how this would draw the learner into the game. I also appreciate the literacy skills needed to play the game effectively.
I was amazed at how difficult it was for me to navigate the gaming activity in Zork I. I didn’t think I would have such a hard time. Honestly, in twenty minutes I was unable to get very far! Narrative gaming is not as easy as one would think!
It was interesting to take a step back in time and give narrative gaming another try. I can understand why others enjoy the experience, but I still was unable to find enjoyment and success. I suppose this relates to my learners and how different games meet the needs of different types of learners.
The idea of ‘gamifying’ education excites, motivates, and enhances the educational experience for many learners. However, joining games with learning experiences can frighten or down-right infuriate others. Personally, I think any experience that helps the learner love learning and want to know more is worth our time and research. I think that joining games and education is a great opportunity for educators.
There are many different ways to join games and education and many educators already have joined the two in their classrooms. There are plenty of skill-based practice games and with the inclusion of applications and mobile learning there are even more opportunities, especially for young learners. However, as the learner matures, they may have little interest in the educational games that are marketed to schools. To keep these learners interested, we need access to games that allow the learner to grow via tangential learning. The learner needs to be interested in the game and want to participate by choice. This provides motivation and a stronger ability to understand what is shared in the gaming experience. Whether the educational information be shared via Wikipedia, game index, or just blurbs of information thought the game itself, the learner seeks to know more because they have the motivation to move forward and learner more.
I strongly feel that motivation is one of the biggest factors in the success of educational experiences for learners. We can drill and practice or force information upon the learner as much as we like, but that will not create an environment of retentive learning. It will also turn many learners away and create a distaste for life-long learning. When the learner begins to pair learning with distaste, the damage has been done. If the learner wants to learn because of the excitement they feel in an educational experience, the teacher has only to help the learner draw the connections between the game and the learning.