I’ve never really given this much thought, but video games do foster learning. In this video, James Paul Gee talks about one of my favorite games ever (Portal!). I can rave about this great puzzler/problem-solving game all day, but I’ll contain my excitement for now. While I’m on the topic here were some other fantastic games from my school days: Battle Chess, Midnight Rescue. The Battle Chess gameplay (anytime you took pieces there was a brief animation/fight sequence showing the capture) was so brilliant to 7-year-old me, that I got hooked onto playing chess. Although, I had always wanted to learn more about the game (strategies, opening/ending games etc.), those kind of resources were just not available to me back then. Midnight Rescue was another brilliant game that was able to integrate learning fabulously into a PC game.
The key message James Paul Gee tries to convey in his brief lecture is that games today are only half the picture; when people get passionate about a game, they read up more about it and dig deeper. For the case of Portal, there are numerous active gaming forums and wiki pages that discuss the game, suggest and implement modifications and research the physics behind the gaming. While these are great learning resources for a gaming enthusiast, how many of us have read the gaming manual/forums or wiki pages before playing the game? I would probably guess none. All that wall of text makes much more sense once we’ve immersed ourselves into the make belief world of the gaming environment. We have thousands of textbooks in school, what we need are video games for those textbooks.