Videogamers & the ‘game of life’

By Anne Collier

Parents of gamers (and gamer parents) might be interested in a thoughtful piece in the Ottawa Citizen by education technology Prof. Constance Steinkuehler at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Referring to the perception gaps between gamers and politicians and between gamers and people over 35, Professor Steinkuehler cites Pew Internet statistics (“more than eight out of every 10 kids in America have a game console in the home and over half have two or more”) indicating that we might want to bridge this divide that she straddles. “I talk to parents, teachers, librarians and other professors about the social and intellectual value of gameplay. And I talk to game players and designers about why education is important and how research on learning might have something important to say about how games are designed and experienced.” Here are the intellectual practices gaming involves which she studies: “collaborative problem solving, reading and writing practices that use highly specialized language, scientific habits of mind such as hypothesis testing and revision, skills in information and communication technology (IT literacy), and argumentation.” Steinkuehler says that “such practices are the mainstay of online gameplay. Together, they form that 21st-century skill set so crucial to democratic success.” She also talks about online games as “third places” or useful “hangouts” (see “Digital hangouts” posted in this blog Monday). And speaking of videogames, the Washington Post just profiled “the new face of videogames” on Capitol Hill, Michael Gallagher, the Entertainment Software Association’s new president, who keeps a Nintendo DS in his suit coat pocket.

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