Week 4 focussed on Epistemic games and while I get the over-arching principle, I’m not entirely sure whether this wouldn’t sit just as well within the Serious Games unit or perhaps have been better considered just a part of Simulations. It isn’t a term that I’ve heard widely in the wild – I guess a short definition would be timely here – here’s what the GamesMOOC itself has to say on the topic:
“Epistemic games are games that place the player in an epistemic frame. This could be as a scientist, historian, teacher or other profession. It has the student (player) acting, thinking and communicating as if already in that professional community.”
I guess the key element is that these games need to be attached to a community of practice, which arguably means that you can’t create/use them as self-contained games but need to attach them to other experiences and tools in the learning experience. This view isn’t necessarily reflected in this interesting chat between David Schaffer and James Paul Gee, where Schaffer thinks it would be useful for people to play games as doctors or journalists to better understand their processes.
This video from the Epistemic Games Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison emphasises the authentic, problem-based learning nature of Epistemic games. It does have a stronger emphasis on mentoring, which does come back to the community of practice factor.