Theories of Games and Interaction for Design (4: 3 Queries)

Approximate Reading Time: 3 minutes

These are public postings of my writings for the first course of the Graduate Certificate Program in Serious Game Design and Research at Michigan State University.

Each week, we are also required to post three questions for the rest of the class. These are mine.

Please note: these posts are not intended as any kind of commentary on or assessment of the course I’m taking, or its instructor, OR of Michigan State University or the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, or the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media. They are solely my thoughts and reactions that stem from the readings.

Feel free to comment, disagree, or what have you.

Week 4

These are the readings for the week:

  • Van Eck, R. (2008). Building Artificially Intelligent Learning Games Intelligent Information Technologies: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 793-825): IGI Global.
  • Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77, 81-112.
  • Bogost, I. (2008). The rhetoric of video games. In K. Salen (Eds.), The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning (pp. 117-140). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

These are the Games:

My Questions

1. (from last week’s reflection on Ritterfeld Ch. 5) Is there anything in Gee’s Principles that hasn’t already been identified by others as general properties of effective instruction?

Forgive me for the length of this question, but I really struggle with the language that Dr. Gee uses in his writing.

I have been teaching for over 30 years, as well as having spent considerable time and effort studying formal education, and yet I still find I have to read, and RE-read Dr. Gee’s chapter to try and figure what it says and how I can use it. I’m still not sure I have a clear picture of what he’s saying. I have attempted to re-write them in plain English. Feel free to argue if you disagree with my translation.

Gee’s properties of good games include:

  1. The ability to use the rules to accomplish personally meaningful goals. Isn’t pursuing meaningful goals essential for engagement in all of education?
  2. Microcontol that facilitates “embodied intimacy” or a reach of power and vision. I have no idea what this means that is different from what the other “principles” say.
  3. All the right conditions for experiential learning. Isn’t that like saying it’s good because it does things right?
  4. The ability to find and use affordances (things the game lets you do) that are well matched to effectivities (things you know how to do).  Isn’t this just ZPD?
  5. The ability to use the models to generalize learning. This is self-evident. All digital games are simulations, and all simulations are implementations of models.
  6. Player-enacted stories or trajectories. This just means the same as Narrative.

2. What are some concrete examples of Cognitive and Constructivist learning objectives?

This week’s lecture explained several different approaches to the design of learning objectives. The first one: behavioral learning objectives, included some concrete examples of what they might look like and how mastery could be measured. Can you think of some concrete examples of either cognitive or constructivist learning objectives? Include ways we might determine whether or not these objectives had been met.

It doesn’t even have to come from videogames – non-game examples would be fine. I’m trying to get a sense for what these would look like, and how they can tie into formal curricula.

3. How would educational game design change if we flipped Bloom’s?

Van Eck’s chapter this week reminded me of how useful Bloom’s Taxonomy still is, even after all these years.

This image is typical of how we normally perceive Bloom’s


Back in May I came across this article that got me thinking: Flip This: Bloom’s Taxonomy Should Start with Creating

This article asks if we should be looking at Bloom’s the other way around, and rather than thinking we need to begin with Knowledge, maybe we should be starting with Creating.

So my question is: Would our perspective on designing educational games change if we looked at it from this perspective, and if so, how?


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