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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Research Findings of Video Games in Academia

Gamasutra has an interesting article on the top ten findings of academia about the use of video games.

A few interesting points from the article and how I think they relate to my classroom.

1. Ability to succeed increased when game players picked their own music.

...when players picked their own soundtracks, their ability to succeed in the game increased and they become more emotionally responsive to the activity as well.
G. Cassidy et al., Glasgow Caledonia University
I have found this to be true in my classroom. I have music as a reward in my classroom. I never allow individual listening on headphones but during the last 10 minutes of some classes as a reward, I allow students to play music off of the front computer. I have this assigned on a rotating basis with teams.

I've found this to be very motivational and effective. Hmm.

2. Collaboration drives emotional attachment

“collaboration is an extremely powerful driver of emotional stickiness,” says McGonigal. The findings indicate (of gamers who played at least 12 hours per week) that players depersonalize their adversaries and do not feel a strong personal awareness of them. Player collaboration, on the other hand, resulted in the strongest sense of presence, meaning when gamers work together with other gamers, that's when they have the greatest sense of community awareness.
Number 7, C. Campanella Bracken et al. of Cleveland State University

I've found this to be very apparent as we've worked with blogs and wikis. Wikis, in particular, create a sense of community awareness that really drives up enthusiasm and excitement for a subject.

3. Perception is more important than reality

The study placed observers into a room where young students were administered an exam. When the observers were informed that particular students had a high probability of cheating, the observers reported that they saw the students cheat or saw potential for the student to cheat, even though the student was instructed by the researchers to not cheat...“Perceptions are often more important than realism for fairness in multiplayer games.”
D. Miller et al. of Stanford University 's department of Personality and Social Psychology
This can be applied in so many ways. However, as I'm a technology teacher I am passionate about "demystifying" technology. I had one student who started the year saying "computers don't like me." She is now hovering at the top of the class and finding that she loves computers (though she won't admit it.)

Dealing with student's false perceptions of technology is as important if not more important than teaching them the technology itself. Being unafraid of technology is vital to their future.

4. Failure isn't all bad
McGonigal calls their findings “counter-intuitive,” noting the participants felt more pleasure and excitement in active failure than in success. Passive failures, on the other hand, leave players feeling less engaged. So the ways in which developers make failure possible—either active or passive—will have a significant effect on how players receive the game. “It didn't matter that within the game [the players] were doing really terribly,” says McGonigal. “There's a certain satisfaction of sending a monkey into space.”
That's what Niklas Ravaj et al. from the Helsinki School of Economics
This point is stunning! Active failure? I'm going to have to think about this one!

Read the article, it is wonderful and will give you a lot to think about!

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