In this book I was enlightened to the in-depth world of video gaming. The only video games I remember playing back the early 1980s was Asteroids, so I had no idea about the complexity of the today's "good games" and the amount of cognitive strategy that goes on within the player's mind. In each chapter Gee goes into specific detail explaining selected game scenarios which correspond to a selected set of his 36 Learning Principles. He states that these learning principles, which are evident in video games, can be transposed to classroom learning. He is critical of the current state of the classroom which, in his opinion, still maintains a lackluster skill-and-drill approach to learning which is a very different strategy presented in video games. The principles Gee has developed while observing- and playing- video games is, as he says, " a plea to build better schools on on better principles of learning."
He makes excellent points that I, and I am sure others, will relate to. Learning through hands-on experience can be so much more rewarding and long lasting, and the scenarios which video games players find themselves working within, activate situated cognition and social learning. In other words, Gee shows us how video games help players learn how to pick up on patterns, learn through the situations they engage within, and operate within a social network where they can synthesize their skills and strategies as a main character in the drama of the game. What I have learned from reading this book is how transformative video game learning can be as compared to passive or outside experience of, for example, listening to a teacher lecture, because players can actually become one of the characters and therefore activate higher levels of learning.
He does mention the issues of violence and gender (how women are depicted) in video games (an area of concern for parents and educators), and in that chapter he briefly provides readers some research based evidence to consider on the effects of violence and gender issues on players. I understand that he is asking readers to re-consider pop culture's sometimes overblown concerns of video gaming, and take a good look at really what is really going on in video games.
It is a fascinating read and it has caused me to reconsider the hours my teens spend on their video games. Although balance is neccesary, I am priming myself to not be so judgemental in my thinking that they are just "wasting their time" and not being productive. There is more going on than I ever realized!