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What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Second Edition Paperback – Dec 26 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade; Revised edition (Dec 26 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403984530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403984531
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 1.9 x 23.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #68,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


"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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I WANT TO TALK ABOUT VIDEO GAMES—YES, EVEN VIOLENT VIDEO games—and say some positive things about them. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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By B. Kavan on Sept. 25 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Confirmation of learning should be fun, inventive and self-motivating
Well written
Very worth reading for educators and parents
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 26 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Eloquent Description of Learning that Happens in Video Games Oct. 16 2011
By Stacey White - Published on
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Principles of deep learning Sept. 7 2013
By Ilya Grigorik - Published on
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Scientific rationale for gaming in the classroom Dec 2 2012
By G. Wagoner - Published on
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good Gaming! Sept. 18 2010
By KathyGD - Published on
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!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
from missprint DOT wordpress DOT com May 16 2009
By Miss Print - Published on
Format: Paperback
What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (2007) by James Paul Gee might be one of the most valuable and timely titles I have read in recent years. Coming to video games late in life, initially to "help" his son with gaming, Gee began to see connections to his professional life as an educator in the virtual worlds created by video games.

Specifically, Gee identified 36 learning principles often found in the best (most challenging, most fun, best designed, most popular) video games that are often lacking in contemporary schools that favor the skill-and-drill approach to deeper, more immersive learning. In discrete chapters, Gee identifies individual games (Tomb Raider, Half-Life, World of Warcraft, Sonic the Hedgehog to name a few) and the principles found in those games that could be applied to school learning.

The ideas Gee outlines in What Video Games Have to Teach Us will not be shocking or revolutionary to anyone who already plays video games. Gamers know that it takes more to play a video game than hand-eye coordination. As Gee underscores throughout this book, gaming is a multifaceted process that requires planning, reflection, strategizing, and even community interaction. In other words, it's impossible to play a video game without learning how to do so.

The key difference in learning a video game is that the learning is more strategic and immersive. Gamers learn by doing and through experimentation. They also learn in strategically effective ways. Instead of having adjust to the difficulty level of a game, the game--through its very design--often adjusts to the competency of the gamer. Schools have not found an effective way to do that yet. The main argument of this book is that video games create active, critical learners while schools often create passive learners.

There is a lot to like about this book. Gee keeps the book grounded in actual anecdotes and experiences and carefully avoids the hypothetical by using his own life as a gamer to explain the principles found within the book. The game play is described as carefully as the learning principles to create a book that gamers and non-gamers will be able to embrace--and understand.

Finally, this book isn't just about playing video games in isolation or even about schools. Rather Gee also looks at the community aspect of video games through their use of shared knowledge and, especially, through the creation of game related affinity groups (communities of sorts formed organically around shared interests). This multi-faceted approach to the subject creates a well-informed and thorough examination of video games, players, and how the ideas found in good video game play and design can be adapted to traditional learning environments to create a more engaging and enriching learning environment for every student.