I’ve been collecting a few articles on video games and what we can learn from them for a little while, and after two comments on presentations at the Future Learningscapes conference yesterday at the University of Greenwich,

In virtual worlds session at #flscapes VWs have a long history it would seem. ‘SecondLife is not a game’ being emphasised.  (tweet)

Surprised that it’s so critical to avoid referring to SL as game in schools – doesn’t game based learning have a place in schools? (tweet),

I think it’s time to get them listed here! The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article about 5 things that can be learnt from video games. They are:

  • Give frequent & detailed feedback
  • Test before going live (this is focussed on making sure a student has commented on scenarios before you roll them out, but also reminds you to build formative testing, allowing students too to make mistakes and learn from them)
  • Game narratives answer the question “Why are we doing this?”
  • Don’t be afraid of fun
  • Not all content works as a game

Listen to Will Wright (creator of the Sims) talk through them:

I love that he says “play is a fundamental educational technology…as a culture we’ve just forgotten that”. I’m visualising document dumps as he says it and I can’t suppress a smile! TechHappy re-inforces just how many educational games there are available (this post discusses 60). Some of them are very much for kids, but let’s face it, these kids become our students. Right at the end of Wright’s interview with the Chronicle, he says for him “motivating a kid is much more important than educating one”, and I understand where he’s coming from when he says so, but if we can educate them as well as motivate them, not to mention enthuse and engage them, then so much the better. If you want to make the mental shift between CBeebies-type games practising basic maths, then have a go at one of these 26 Learning Games to Change the World – much in my mind as we discuss the potential for Second Life to help students learning about NGO disaster management logistics. Here’s a description of one of them:

3rd World Farmer … aims at simulating the real-world mechanisms that cause and sustain poverty in 3rd World countries. In the game, the player gets to manage an African farm, and is soon confronted with the often difficult choices that poverty and conflict necessitate. We find this kind of experience efficient at making the issues relevant to people, because players tend to invests their hopes in a game character whose fate depends on him. We aim at making the player “experience” the injustices, rather than being told about them, so as to stimulate a deeper and more personal reflection on the topics.”

And we can learn more from video games than just to learn to learn, we can also take note of more ‘common sense’ things to apply to everything else we design and deliver.  6 Things Video Games can Teach us about Usability highlights some of the tacit information that we subconsciously appreciate in good web site experiences like Amazon or Ebay. Things to learn about design, navigation and functionality here, especially as we begin to encourage people to think about switching to more interactive situated context/scenario-based learning instead of lecture transmission.

Games – just play or can we learn from them?
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