R.E.Clark is at it again….

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

Clark, R. E. (2007). Learning from Serious Games? Arguments, Evidence, and Research Suggestions. EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY, May-June 2007, 56-59.

Richard E. Clark says, “My goal in this column is to offer a brief view of the current state of the evidence for the educational benefit of games, discuss a few problems with existing studies, make some suggestions for the design of game studies, and suggest a possible application of games in order to invite a discussion about the design of future serious game research, evaluation, and implementation.”

For those who aren’t familiar with this person, R.E.Clark is the “nay” side of the famous Clark-Kozma debate. So, no surprize that this author would claim that games don’t make any difference. It is simply the same argument moved to a new medium. I wonder if Dr. Clark plays any games himself, or if he is forming his opinion based on, as Harlan Ellison would say, “idiot hearsay”.

Ellison said: “When I reviewed television, people said “If you hate television so much, how come you’ve got a television set in your house?”. Stephen King even said “You know, Harlan’s got a big TV.”. Yes, that’s right. I try to be courant. I try to know what it is I’m talking about. I am not like many people who give you an opinion based on some sort of idiot hearsay or some kind of gut feeling you cannot validate. When I give an opinion, I do my best to make sure it is based on information.”


The general gist seems to be games are no better than lectures, so why bother. VERY biased. And seriously uninformed.

It sounds like exactly the same argument that people make who want to claim that technology in general makes no difference. I noticed the research references were *very* biased towards traditional education academics like Gredler, who has already shown a negativity towards games in her writing. I also noticed that even though there were only 11 references, 2 reference the author, 3 reference Meyer, and 2 others reference O’Neil – hardly a broad view of the literature.

I also noticed that this article implies that they are still tenaciously hanging on to the notion that games are different from simulations – this will eventually isolate the education community from the rest of the world who do not make this distinction and who are using all sorts of simulations (including games). This includes the military (who actually DO have research evidence that games are often more effective than traditional teaching methods), health and medicine, social justice groups, advertising, and politics.

These guys REALLY need to step outside the confines of their own discipline and learn what is happening in the world. It’s sad that people as parochial as this get to put this stuff in magazines that people will read and believe without question. It also explains why many of those at the forefront of serious game research have developed a negative view of Ed Tech.

Oh well, I guess there will always be conservative die-hards with puritanical tendencies – and plenty of administrators and policy makers who want to hear that games don’t work.

defn: Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. H.L.Menchen

Also, he has the definition of serious games wrong (and he quotes wikipedia….): he implies that serious games are educational.

Ben Sawyer once said to Jim that if he thought serious games was only about education, he’d quit. [He was implying that serious games are much larger than that.]

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