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What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Second Edition [Paperback]

James Paul Gee

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Book Description

Dec 26 2007
James Paul Gee begins his classic book with "I want to talk about video games--yes, even violent video games--and say some positive things about them." With this simple but explosive statement, one of America's most well-respected educators looks seriously at the good that can come from playing video games. In this revised edition, new games like World of WarCraft and Half Life 2 are evaluated and theories of cognitive development are expanded. Gee looks at major cognitive activities including how individuals develop a sense of identity, how we grasp meaning, how we evaluate and follow a command, pick a role model, and perceive the world.

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What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Second Edition + The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education + Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
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Review

"Gee astutely points out that for video game makers, unlike schools, failing to engage children is not an option."--Terrence Hackett, The Chicago Tribune
"These games succeed because, according to Gee, they gradually present information that is actually needed to perform deeds."--Norman A. Lockman, USA Today
"James Paul Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy has been a transformative work. Gee might be described as the Johnny Appleseed of the serious games movement, planting seeds that are springing new growth everywhere we look. More than anyone else, he has forced educators, parents, policy makers, journalists, and foundations to question their assumptions and transform their practices. Gee combines the best contemporary scholarship in the learning scientists with a gamer's understanding of what is engaging about this emerging medium."--Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

About the Author

James Paul Gee has been featured in a variety of publications from Redbook, Child, Teacher, and USA Today to Education Week, The Chicago Tribune, and more. He is Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Described by the Chronicle of Higher Education as "a serious scholar who is taking a lead in an emerging field" he has become a major expert in game studies today.

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eloquent Description of Learning that Happens in Video Games Oct. 16 2011
By Stacey White - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I do not play video games, however, after reading this book I now have a new respect for video games. Gee clearly and eloquently explains the kind of learning that is encouraged in well-designed video games.

This book is NOT a methods book. You will NOT learn techniques on how to design better games or better instruction. But you WILL learn how video games encourage deep learning (i.e., a deep understanding of the game and how to be successful) and develop critical thinking skills that players use to become successful at playing a specific game AND video games in general. You will learn that game designers deliberately develop deep learning and critical thinking skills, NOT to make players experts in zombies or war, but to set them up to be successful at playing the game and to have a great game playing experience. That gamers foster learning that develops self-esteem and self-efficacy through game play. Gee will also share his opinion of how the educational system might incorporate these elements in the classroom to foster critical thinking and deep learning of subject matter.

If you don't play video games, this book will give you insight in to the kind of learning that is deliberately encouraged in video games.
If you DO play video games, you'll develop an understanding of why the games you play are designed that way.
If you design instruction (or video games) you'll now have a framework and a vocabulary you can use to design and discuss those elements that make learning engaging and effective.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Principles of deep learning Sept. 7 2013
By Ilya Grigorik - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good video games offer players strong identities; they make players think like scientists; they lower the consequences of failure; ... In short, good games provide an environment that is optimized for deep-learning. Best of all, all of these concepts are directly applicable to learning just about any skill - from how to traverse a virtual landscape, to basic science, math, and yes, even good social skills.

That's not to say that every video game on the shelf will meet the above criteria, but as James Gee points points out: many do. After all, if they don't, they're out of business. In the meantime, our educational system could really benefit from picking up a few of the techniques described in this book - ever wonder why so many "ADHD students" can't sit still in class, but then spend hours concentrated on a video game? Perhaps it's not the students, but rather the method of delivery and the content itself? The book offers 36 principles that are often found in great games, and which can help us build both better classrooms and computer games -- or, even better, classrooms with engaging computer games.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scientific rationale for gaming in the classroom Dec 2 2012
By G. Wagoner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Gee connects gaming to brain-based learning to explain why gaming is a higher form of learning than traditional classroom tasks, especially teacher-centered ones. This is not a practical "how-to set up up gaming in the classroom" book, but the pedagogical foundation for any teacher who starts gaming or gamification. Gee also confronts the idea that gamers are non-social, but rather engaged beyond to authentic learning circles of shared interests.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book Oct. 8 2011
By Rodrigo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is incredibly interesting in the way it deals with games and learning. The exemplification with the games makes it very interactive and decisively non-tiring to be read. And the content is definetely important for understanding learning and to know some games (in case you haven't played them) or to remember about some classics). I recommend!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Gaming! Sept. 18 2010
By KathyGD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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!

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