1. Watch the video of James Gee about the value of gaming in educational contexts. The video is broken up into segments so at the end of each segment take time to reflect and add a comment.
  2. Describe your own use of gaming, or how you think you could use games if you don't do so already.

James Gee on Gaming and Learning video excerpts:


  • encourages active and critical NOT PASSIVE, learning
  • appreciate design and design principles
  • appreciate interrelations within and across multiple sign systems (images, words, actions, symbols, artifacts, etc)
  • take risks in a space where real-world consequences are lowered
  • extended engagement - practice, effort
  • extensions of real-world identities in relation to a virtual identity to which they feel some commitment and a virtual world they find compelling
  • learning involves taking on and playing with identities in such a way that the learner has real choices (in developing the virtual identity) and ample opportunity to meditate on the relationship between new identities and old ones.
  • relate to and reflect on multiple real-world and virtual world identities
  • learn about themselves and current as well as potential capacities
  • there is an amplification of output, from a little input
  • intrinsic rewards related to each learner's level, effort and growing mastery and signaling the learner's ongoing achievements
  • lots of practice in a context where the practice is not boring. LOTS OF TIME spent on the task.
  • meanings of signs (words, actions, objects, artifacts, symbols, texts, etc) are situated in embodied experience
  • texts understood in terms of embodied experiences
  • meaning and knowledge are built up through various modalities (images, texts, symbols, interactions, abstract design, sound, etc.), not just words
  • intuitive or tacit knowledge is built up in repeated practice and experience, often in association with an affinity group, counts a great deal and is honored. Not just verbal and conscious knowledge is rewarded.
  • learning situations are ordered in the early stages so that earlier cases lead to generalizations that are fruitful for later cases. When learners face more complex cases later, the learning space (the number and type of guesses the learner can make) is constrained by the sorts of fruitful patterns or generalizations the learner has found earlier.
  • basic skills are not learned in isolation or out of context, rather, what counts as a basic skill is discovered bottom up by engaging in more and more of the game/domain or game/domain like it.
  • students engage more in the learning because they can see themselves in the world in a very real/concrete way, unlike looking at raw text on a page and trying to imagine
  • LAN games encourage collaborative learning because progression relies on everyone developing their skills
  • students feel as if they have some measure of control as they progree through the game in their own way, this also makes their experience unique and special to them

Directly sourced from: WHAT VIDEO GAMES HAVE TO TEACH US ABOUT LEARNING AND LITERACY by James Paul Gee. Printed in 2004 by Palgrave Macmillan, USA, first paperback edition. Information from: APPENDIX - the 36 learning principles (pp 207-210)

Gee, J.P. (2007). Good Video Games and Good Learning. Peter Lang Publishing Inc.: New York.

Chapter 10 - Games and Learning: Issues, perils and potentials. pp. 129.

Summary Notes

Emergent new field - video games and learning
Engages students/players in deep learning in highly motivating context
Good games incorporate learning principles into their designs - process of learning more important than content
But what content in commercial video games? Can engaging and pedagogically sound games be built?

Gaming a deeply social enterprise - joint play collaboration, competition, sharing, teamwork
Become mainstream form of social interaction across the globe
People learn new identities, new forms of social interaction and values

Games have different effects depending on their use, in what context (social systems built around them)
Combination of the game in the box, and the social and learning system built around the game termed the "big G" game

Video games and learning - key questions
1. What sorts of learning connected to commercial video games?
2. How does this learning relate to real life?
3. How can games enhance learning? And does this learning transfer to other learning contexts?
4. Can this learning be implemented without the use of games (using other non-technological mediums)?
5. Can this learning lead to better models of assessment?
6. How does this learning relate to demographic categories? Will this learning widen or narrow equity gaps?
7. What is the impact of this learning on global society, individuals (identity, learning and thinking) in the future?


Although I have not used gaming as an educational resource it is clear that educationally viable games would be highly effective in the context in which I teach. As soon as I turn my back, a boy has found a proxy to access a gaming site and is playing something "mindless" before I know it, or the Big Brother system can shut him down... Gaming as a means to engage boys in English has the potential in my classes to motivate and inspire my students...

History has long been a topic that has been targeted in computer games. As such there are a huge amount of available resources to engage students in this area. The programs target both historical and strategic knowledge and allows the student to engage with the subject matter directly as they become a character of a set time frame and location and must use their skills and knowledge to complete the game. Some of the more popular titles are:

  • Age of Empire
  • Age of Mythology
  • Empire Earth
  • Joan of Arc
  • Rise of Nations
  • Rome Total War

However studies in history is not the limit of the application of computer games. English can draw on many Role Play games to teach narrative. As students become engrossed in creating their own experience in the game they develop the ability to create their own narratives. Square Soft producing some of the most popular games. Science also has many options available to them beyond anatomy naming games. The Game Re-Mission has proved quite popular, it's based around understanding cancer.

(put your comments here)