Thursday, June 19, 2008

Serious Games


It has been around for a while but Jim Gee's book, What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, has helped administrators, teachers, policymakers, and activists recognize the pro-social and educational potential of video-games.

At one time, video-game researchers, like their predecessors who studied such “low-brow” topics as film, television, and radio, confronted an extraordinarily difficult climate among "serious" scholars and found themselves forced to defend the legitimacy of a controversial medium that was associated with prurient content and juvenile delinquency. Even today, academic research on popular media usually begins with a familiar discussion about how this emerging medium “gets no respect.”

After many years of hard work, things are changing. This is an exciting time for researchers who specialize in the study of video-games and other forms of interactive media. In part, this changing climate can be credited to ground-breaking works such as Sherry Turkle’s Life on the Screen, James Paul Gee’s What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy, and Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad Is Good for You. Aimed at general audiences, these books helped administrators, policymakers, educators, and activists realize that video-games have far reaching potential.

As educators and designers, when we encounter greater cultural understanding and acceptance of popular media, we can relax our defensive posture and spend more time on actually diving into popular media as viable creative and intellectual platforms.

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