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Educational Gaming for Free Spirited Skeptics Theory and Challenges of Pedagogical Games. May 8, 2012 Elizabeth Pyatt gaming@psu.edu. Who Am I?. Elizabeth Pyatt Instructional Designer Penn State since 2000 Solitaire addict, just brought Wii

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educational gaming for free spirited skeptics theory and challenges of pedagogical games
Educational Gaming for Free Spirited SkepticsTheory and Challenges of Pedagogical Games

May 8, 2012

Elizabeth Pyatt

gaming@psu.edu

who am i
Who Am I?
  • Elizabeth Pyatt
    • Instructional Designer
      • Penn State since 2000
    • Solitaire addict, just brought Wii
      • Minesweeper, Puzzles, PacMan, Space Invaders, Missile Command, Jeopardy
  • Educational Gaming Commons
    • http://gaming.psu.edu
outline
Outline
  • What’s a Game?
    • Does there have to be a winner?
  • Potential for Learning
    • PBL, motivation/affect, teams…
  • Skeptics Corner
    • Leading to “What to Avoid”
  • First Steps
but first a contest
But first a contest
  • How many games will I mention?
    • Need names plus count
  • There are some prizes on the line.
  • Audience will determine accuracy of list
what s a game
What’s a Game?
  • Favorite games (any genre)
  • What do they have in common?
official characteristics
Official Characteristics
  • Set of rules/restrictions
    • Semi-arbitrary (e.g. no hands on the ball)
    • Context is “Not Real”
  • Scoring Method
  • Competition (& a “Winner”?)
    • Many expect there to be
    • Sometimes you beat the computer…or yourself
  • Successful games are “fun”
parameters
Parameters?
  • There’s some candy on the line…
interesting parameters
Interesting Parameters
  • Electronic vs. Non-Electronic
  • Team vs. Individual
  • What Skills are Being Practiced?
      • Math, Word, Strategy, Dancing, Music
      • Meditation, Building, Flying, Farming, Sales
  • Time investment
      • Casual (short & sweet)
      • Non-casual (lots of investment, high reward)
  • ± Background Narrative
  • Games vs. Puzzles vs. Toys
      • How many outcomes?
educational possibilities
Educational Possibilities
  • Games invoke a variety of pedagogical principles such as…
group learning
Group Learning
  • World of Warcraft
    • Discuss strategy, plan missions
    • Make trades
    • Compile notes
      • http://www.wowwiki.com/
    • Practice English grammar
  • Econ in Outer Space
    • A game in which students build a modern economy from scratch post spacecraft wreck
      • ECON 201, UNC Greensboro
empathy
Empathy
  • What’s it like to be another person?
    • “Warrior” is a common role BUT
    • Business Administrator
      • Sims & ECON 102 Sims (Campus)
    • Bucket of Beans (S. Pacific Reciprocity)
      • Players learn the value of “cashing in” favors
    • StarPower
      • Establish an arbitrary upper class via trades
      • This class can establish new rules
        • BEWARE
      • http://www.stsintl.com/schools-charities/star_power.html
pbl challenge based learning
PBL/Challenge Based Learning
  • Games are often won by solving problems
    • AKA “Quests” or “Missions”
  • Educational Quests
    • Beer Distribution Game (used in Smeal)
    • Oregon Trail
      • Rare educational game that was a commercial success
simulation game genres
Simulation Game Genres
  • God Game
    • Game in which players control parameter of universe (e.g. SimGames)
  • History Sims
    • Age of Empires
    • Trial of Lizzie Borden (U Mass)
  • Science Simulations
    • Flight Simulator, Spore
simhealth
SimHealth

Played as part of HPA 101

leveling up
Leveling Up

Pac Man Maze levels

Pac Man 5D which presents a variable 3D grid. Invented by a Russian gamer.

mastery learning
Mastery Learning
  • Achieve Minimal Score before moving to next Lesson
    • AKA complete level 1 before level 2
  • Scaffolding
    • Each level introduces new element
    • Adding a touch of difficulty adds interest
      • Too little is boring
      • Too much causes gamers to quit
      • Zone of Proximal Development
  • Unlocking in Games
    • Leveling up unlocks new tools (reward)
      • New equation? New diagram?
drill and kill
“Drill and Kill”
  • Games encourage practice
    • And automaticity of skills
    • Such as pattern recognition
    • But with fun graphics & music
see also
See also
  • Math drills
    • More fun with tiny angry scientists?
      • Algebra Meltdown (http://www.mangahigh.com/en_us/games)
  • Vocabulary and spelling
    • More fun as Hangman, crossword?
  • Identification
affect motivation
Affect/Motivation
  • Games can add motivation to
    • Chores (Chore Wars – competitive chore points)
    • Jogging (Nike Plus) – badges, leaderboard
    • Self-Improvement (SuperBetter)
skeptics corner
Skeptics Corner
  • Games “better than reality”
    • Aren’t we supposed to be helping students deal with reality?
    • YES…however
      • Gamers often good at tackling real world challenges and learn real world skills
      • Reflection can help them see how…
just games
Just Games?
  • What about
    • Active Star Trek fan communities…
      • Or Dorothy Dunnett readers
    • Knitters, needlepointers, metal workers
    • Toastmasters
    • “Stovetop” league? Monday Morning quarterback?
gaming the system
“Gaming the System”
  • AKA Cheating
  • Games
    • Cheat codes, destroying weaker opponents
    • Some socially OK, others not
  • In School
    • Academic Dishonesty
    • BECAUSE…
when games are high stakes
When games are high stakes…

Survive annihilation. Win free nail polish for life?

can we still have fun
Can we still have fun?
  • Low Stakes vs High Stakes
    • Games (low stakes) + reflection (higher)
  • Students do enjoy
    • Change from lecture/quiz
    • Leader Boards (when low stakes)
    • Games if logistics not too burdensome
    • A certain level of goofiness or joie de vivre
  • Game may teach crucial skill
    • So maybe we do require it anyway
can we make failure an option
Can we make Failure an Option?
  • Games teach via mistakes
    • Because they allow resets
      • Gamers comfortable experimenting
    • Can we use more “maximum scores”?
    • Can we give hints
      • Maybe with minor points deductions
thinking game goals
Thinking Game Goals
  • Games can allow for:
    • Strategic/Systems thinking
    • Experience as a different person
    • Add motivation
    • Practice of low level skills/knowledge
  • Games don’t
    • Convey content (except in the “narrative”)
oregon trail
Oregon Trail
  • Goal: Teach about life on the Oregon Trail

Life on the Oregon Trail is very hazardous, requires careful planning, and crosses a variety of terrain

quick starts
Quick Starts
  • Casual Games
    • Hangman/Peril/Typo
      • http://gaming.psu.edu
    • PowerPoint Templates
    • ANGEL games (crossword/match)
  • Gamification
    • Badges? Quests? Avatars?
  • Case Studies (gussied up)?
    • Many avatar/graphics tools
fun play
Fun Play
  • Find the challenge “sweet spot”
    • Not too easy or too difficult
    • Challenging gun for faculty ≠ fun for students
  • Allow for goofiness
    • Graphics, sound effects, puns
  • Allow for some “low stakery”
    • Can activities be replayed?
what do you mean goofy
What do you mean “goofy”?
  • Many use great cartoons but do we
    • Show warriors fleeing the scene after a mistranslation?
    • Simulate explosions in engineering?
    • Turn ourselves into an avatar?
    • Turn homework into “quests” or “missions?
      • Add game graphics to assignments?
    • Allow students to earn points towards late assignment submissions?
    • Unlock “power” equations? Tools?
explaining functions w subs
Explaining Functions w/Subs
  • Using cash register buttons as metaphors for algebraic functions in Math 21

Starring Deb Mirdamadi, Mont Alto Campus

today we learned
Today we learned
  • Games can be good learning environments
    • Problem solving, skills practice, collaboration
  • Games have many facets
  • Games in school ≠ games in the wild
    • But hopefully can be fun & educational
  • Gaming does require a mental readjustment for instructors
    • But there are many paths to victory
who am i1
Who Am I?
  • Pragmatrix
    • Super Powers
      • Master of Learning Objective Congruence
      • Assessor of Pedagogical Games
      • Explorer of New Technologies
      • Queen of “Keeping it Real”
some references
Some References
  • McGonigal, Jane
    • Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better.
  • James Paul Gee
    • What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy
  • Koster, Ralph
    • A Theory of Fun
  • Bartle, Richard (player types)
    • Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players who Suit MUDs
contest results
Contest Results
  • How many games did I mention?
    • Must provide names