Book: What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy

What Videogames Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy
James Paul Gee [2003]

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ISBN: 1-4039-6538-2

In this book, Gee explains how games can affect people and more importantly, how can they learn a great amount of stuff just by playing. Gee created a list of 36 learning principles and a thorough explanation of the cognitive processes involved in each of them, with research facts and personal experiences.

In one of the chapters of the book, Gee accurately explains how, if a game is well done, the gamer can have a special connection with his avatar representation. He uses the game Arcanum as an example. Gee says that in this game, he created a special connection with his female elf avatar so deep that that he transmitted his morals and values into his character to the point that he sometimes felt bad if things didn't turn well, feeling that he had 'let down' the character in the videogame.

This happened because there are three identities that work together when someone plays a game like this:
  • A virtual identity (one's identity as a virtual character in the game's world).
  • A real world identity (the non-virtual person playing the game).
  • A projective identity (the projection of one's values and desires into the virtual character).

These identities interact with each other thorught the game and as an example, he says that at any point, any of them can fail:

The virtual character can fail to defeat an enemy because the character was not strong enough to beat it. The real world person can fail to use the game controls effectivly, causing the virtual character to lose a fight that, according to the game's rules, should have won. And the projective identity can fail when the real player causes the virtual player to do something in the game that the real player feels the virtual player shouldn't have done.

Gee explains that this relates to one of the learning principles in his list, the "Identity Principle". This principle says:
"Learning involves taking on and playing with identities in such a way that the learner has real choices and ample opportunity to meditate on the relationship between new identities and old ones."

[This post will be updated if I find more interesting stuff]

Gee, J. P. (2003). What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy (1st ed.). New York, United States: Palgrave Macmillian.

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