Theories of Games and Interaction for Design (11: 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 11

These are the readings for the week (Topics: Serious game implementation challenges):

  • Ritterfeld et al. (2009) Ch 14 Kafai, Y. B. (2009). Serious games for girls? Considering gender in learning with digital games. In U. Ritterfeld, M. Cody, & P. Vorderer (Eds.). (2009). Serious games: Mechanisms and effects (pp. 221-235). New York: Routledge.
  • Van Eck, R. (under review). Bringing ‘discipline’ to the study of games and learning. Research challenge. Information Design Journal.
    • Optional: Van Eck, R. (2006). Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE Review, 41, 17-30.
    • Optional: Baranowski, T., Baranowski, J., Thompson, D. I., Buday, R., Jago, R., Griffith, M. J., et al. (2011). Video game play, child diet, and physical activity behavior change: A randomized clinical trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40, 33-38.
    • Optional Baranowski, T., Baranowski, J., Thompson, D. I., & Buday, R. (2011). Behavioral science in video games for children’s diet and physical activity change: Key research needs. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 5, 229-233.

Question1: [Week 11 KB Q 1/3] Does DGBL cover all serious games?

Rick Van Eck has put all serious games under the umbrella term ‘DGBL’, but I don’t think I agree. The terms he has used are:

Game Studies, Serious Games, Video Game Studies, Game-Based Learning. I’d be interested in hearing your definitions for these terms. I’ll add mine at the end of the week (as usual, I’m pretty opinionated on this).

Question2: [Week 11 KB Q 2/3] Is it appropriate to make educational games for girls?

I don’t like fighting. As a result, there are a whole pile of video games that I don’t really like playing. I’ve always thought of shooters and fighting games as the low-hanging fruit of game design. It’s fairly easy to do.

When I watched Avatar for the first time I thought the Navi’s connectedness with their planet had some really interesting possibilities for how to do a final conflict/challenge. When it became clear that the final challenge was simply going to be another epic war battle, I was sooo disappointed. It was all so utterly predictable. (I still like the film, it just could have been so much more).

I see videogames that require me to fight someone or something much the same way. Even Pokémon makes you battle, though for some reason the violence in Mario seems OK to me. I’ve never really known if I feel this way because I am a girl, or because I am German, or because I am a pacifist. Whatever the reason, I would be irritated if I had to play a game for school that required fighting. With the same token though, I’d be equally irritated if I had to play a game where I had to buy stuff, or dress up, or do anything I saw as particularly ‘girlish’.

There’s a part of me that thinks it is just as bad to make games for girls as it is to make games for boys – at least so long as the game is one that both (all?) genders will have to play, as happens in educational games. What about GLBT games? Can we do that? Should we? If we are going to make a game to be used in a formal educational setting, should we not be trying to figure out how to do that in a way that is gender-neutral?

Question3: [Week 11 KB Q 3/3] Is public interest in games the same as acceptance?

Rick Van Eck says we have largely overcome the stigma that games = play = frivolous. Have we though? Or have we just exchanged a general suspicion of anything “fun” for something more subtle but no less impervious?

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