Marc Prensky is a significant figure in the games in learning field, with a substantial body of writing and consultant work behind him. He is a big advocate of using the concept of digital learners and digital immigrants to describe the changes that the information age is bringing and the need to reshape education to keep up with it.
His 2006 book, “Don’t bother me Mom – I’m learning” presents a series of well-thought out and accessible arguments for the benefits of computer and video games. It is aimed largely at non-gamer parents and seeks to counter some of the moral panic foofarah put forward in the media.
I had hoped for something focussed more on education, specifically relating to practical tips for game design and use in the classroom. There is some of this but ultimately the target of the book is parents and non-gamers.
This said, there are a number of worthwhile ideas in this book.
- Playing games is a learning experience.
- Games are motivating and engaging
- Brain function is surprisingly plastic and gameplay can rewire and enhance our way of thinking
- Digital Natives do things differently : communication, sharing, buying & selling, exchanging, creating, meeting, coordinating, evaluating, gaming, learning, evolving, searching, analysing, reporting, programming, socialising and growing up.
- Games offer pleasure by providing a sense of progress, levelling up offers a “flow state”.
- “A game is a series of interesting and important decisions, leading to a satisfying conclusion” – Bruce
- Games can teach ethics and encourage cooperation and communication
- Modding culture stimulates creativity
- Non-gamer parents need to educate themselves about games, talk to their chidren about them and learn the language. They can use the content of games to help their children learn more from the game than they might have on their own.
- Game in the classroom can be a great source of stimulation for discussions
As I say, it’s more of an introduction/cheerleading session for games in general but this book offers a wealth of ideas and evidence for using games in an educational setting.