I’m currently taking a course titled Games and Learning as part of my master’s degree in Instructional design.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the course. I had heard good things about the instructor from other people in the program and I found the topic to be of some interest.
Two weeks into the semester, and I can honestly say that I’ve never taken a course quite like this one. The course design reflects the learning content, and the content makes itself more clear as you engage with course–like a game.
I’m not a gamer. Not since I was 12 years old and played Crash Bandicoot in it’s entirety on Playstation have I fully engaged with a video game.
My current gaming practices include playing cribbage once a week with my wife at our favorite bar.
The 18 year gap between these experiences only occasionally involved interactions with video games specifically. I can recall the occasional game of Call of Duty with an old roommate, a few times playing Halo with my nephews. Outside of video games my gaming experiences include the occasional chess game, Texas Hold Em match, Phase 10 card game, and the annual battle royale game of Risk that I play with my brothers in law at Christmas time (by far the most vicious game play I’ve experienced).
Throughout all these game play experiences I was motivated by winning. The strategy involved was sometimes secondary to winning until I realized that winning is second to the strategy that achieves it. Aha, a learning moment.
I have had several close friends throughout the years that were/are avid gamers, and the culture and mindset they seem to have in common has always intrigued me. I would talk with them about games because, despite not being a “gamer,” we have a lot of things in common. We love technology, design, character development, storytelling, and general nerd culture. So far, I am very thankful that I have those friends because I would probably feel somewhat lost in the course if I wasn’t at least familiar with some of the terms, concepts, and culture and identity traits surrounding gaming.
I like to look at much of learning in terms of systems, and how people create and utilize systems to achieve something.
Maybe the difference is largely in the name, but what games and theory have to offer in how we approach education and learning (something I hadn’t examined with a great deal of thought until now) is starting to reveal itself to me in terms of the ways that I view systematic approaches.
I guess, two weeks into the semester, that my goal is to understand different factors of motivation in learning that directly tie to game theory, to better understand ways to instill that motivation in strategic course design efforts, and by better understanding how different types of games, historically and currently, are designed to do those very things.