Gaming the System - Review Discussion

Aaron Barlow reviews What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee, New York, Palgrave MacMillan, December 2007, on the ePluribus Media Journal.

Barlow states,

This is one of those "duh" books. That is, there's nothing startling in it, just things that many of us teachers will say, on reading, "I should have thought of that." Thing is, we didn't; Gee did.

Video games have rarely been given any credit in a "learning" context, but as Barlow points out, perhaps we have sold them short.

Read the review on the Journal and come back here to discuss.

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I was happy to find that the book is in my local library so I have put it on hold. It sounds very interesting. I can understand that the ability to model a situation in advance of facing it can be quite helpful. These days people are called upon to fulfil many different roles. However I am concerned that learning gaming the system too frequently substitutes for moral judgements today.

Competition, winning, beating the system, coming out on top--you name it. Quite different from the cooperative values that I learned as a child in a family with an uncle and grandfather who were active trade union organizers, and in a time when my family, their friends, our neighbors and my peers in school pretty much all believed that the New Deal was a GOOD thing.

One of the best expression of this for me was in the picture "Seabiscuit" when the narrator talks about how the whole country was rooting for the underdog Seabiscuit to win, even President Roosevelt. And then there is a comment about how all those the "little guys" who were hit so hard by the depression and were riding the trains seeking work and so on identified with the horse. [Please excuse my paraphrase--I'm not sure I even got the name of the film precisely right.]

Life isn't a game really. It's for real and integrity counts, I think. Not to be forgotten, the word "integrity" comes from wholeness--the same route as "integer." Yes we are called upon to play many different roles in life, nurturing within the family and effective in a different way on-the-job or in the classroom--but I think it is important to separate finding one's identity (something that many of us grapple with during the period we are in college) and learning to successfully adapt to different situations.