IJIS - Video Games in Education Kurt Squire Comparative...

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Video Games in Education Kurt Squire Comparative Media Studies Department, 14N-205 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. 02139 USA Email: KSQUIRE@MIT.EDU
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ABSTRACT Computer and video games are a maturing medium and industry and have caught the attention of scholars across a variety of disciplines. By and large, computer and video games have been ignored by educators. When educators have discussed games, they have focused on the social consequences of game play, ignoring important educational potentials of gaming. This paper examines the history of games in educational research, and argues that the cognitive potential of games have been largely ignored by educators. Contemporary developments in gaming, particularly interactive stories, digital authoring tools, and collaborative worlds, suggest powerful new opportunities for educational media. VIDEO GAMES IN AMERICAN CULTURE Now just over thirty years old, video games have quickly become one of the most pervasive, profitable, and influential forms of entertainment in the United States and across the world 1 . In 2001, computer and console game software and hardware exceeded $6.35 billion in the United States, and an estimated $19 billion worldwide (IDSA 2002). To contextualize these figures, in October 23, 2001, the Sony PlayStation system debuted in the US, netting well over $150 million in twenty-four hours, over six times the opening day revenues of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace , which netted $25 million. Twenty-five million Americans or, one out of every four households, owns a Sony Playstation (Sony Corporate website 2000). Not only are video games a powerful force not only in the entertainment and economic sector, but in the American cultural landscape, as well. Nintendo’s Pokemon , which, like Pac-Man and 1 There may be distinctions between the technical features and cultural significance of computer and video games that are worth exploring when discussing games in education, but for the purposes of this paper, they will both be treated as “video games” to simplify matters. The Mario Brothers, before it, has evolved from a video game into a cultural phenomena. In the past few years, Pokemon has spun off a television show, a full feature film, a line of toys, and a series of trading cards, making these little creatures giants in youth culture. Given the pervasive influence of video games on American culture, many educators have taken an interest in what the effects these games have on players, and how some of the motivating aspects of video games might be harnessed to facilitate learning. Other educators fear that video games might foster violence, aggression, negative imagery of women, or social isolation (Provenzo 1991). Other educators see video games as powerfully motivating digital environments and study video games in order to determine how motivational components of popular video games might be integrated into instructional design (Bowman 1982; Bracey 1992; Driskell & Dwyer 1984). Conducted during the age of Nintendo, these
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IJIS - Video Games in Education Kurt Squire Comparative...

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