Event – DigiPlay 4

DigiPlay 4: Playing with/learning from computer games
January 2005 at the London Knowledge Lab

28th January 2005
Convenor: Diane Carr
DigiPlay Series Organisers: Jason Rutter and Jo Bryce.
Series Funders: ESRC

Programme:
David Buckingham, Centre for the Study of Children Youth and Media, IOE
Computer Games, Literacy and Learning: Some Critical Questions
David will present an overview of issues relating to computer games, learning and education.

Eva Petersson, Halmstad University
Digital games and toys – arenas for playful learning
This paper describes textual, social and design dimensions of artefacts for play and learning by giving examples from studies on relations between children, social activities, games and toys. This paper exhibits design as characteristics of artefacts intended to stage play and learning. Furthermore the paper exhibits learning as a process of competence creation. This kind of learning is usually not considered as learning in a formal sense, rather as play and exploration. Field-studies were implemented among user groups of children between 4 to 8 years of age. The results disclose that multimodality, scaffolding, and intrinsic motivation are essential resources for playful learning experiences.

Tim Dumbleton, BECTA
Game over or level one completed? The challenges and opportunities of games in the classroom.
This presentation will focus on the opportunities and difficulties of using games in the classroom, and provide some thoughts about thedirections of both school based education and the games industry. I will first of all draw out some of the key findings of recent research and compare this to the bigger picture of the current embedding ICT in learning and teaching agenda. I will also look at the issues related to the environments of formal learning compared to leisure use of games. Secondly, I will look longer term at how the likely future directions of formal education and the games industry may present new challenges and opportunities for learning. Finally, I’ll provide an overview of Becta’s approach to this area as the lead government agency for ICT use in education. I would like to highlight that this presentation will probably raise more questions than answers, and I intend to provide plenty of opportunity for discussion and input.

Seth Giddings, UWE
Circuits: a video essay on virtual and actual play
Documenting two young boys’ engagement with the simulated environments and gameplay of Lego Racers 2 both on and off screen, this video essay identifies a number of circuits of signification and playful activity: between game rules and emergent, exploratory play in the computer game; between play with simulated action / space and play between children in actual space; between play with virtual toys and play with actual toys; between software and bodies.

Paul Hollins (Bolton Institute of Higher Education), Siobhan Thomas (IOE, http://www.pervasivelearning.org)
Panel: Social Education? Political Games.
The focus of this panel is on computer games games designed to encourage political activism, or bring about political change (rather than the politics of representation and simulation, or ideology in games more generally). Political games and educational games raise similar questions. How ‘effective’ are games with a message, and how do you know if they work? What are the unique communicative potentials of computer games? What of critical framing, delivery etc – how might the contexts of reception shape responses to these games? Paul Hollins presents an overview of the topic, and then two practitioners present case studies. Siobhan Thomas recently designed, built, and assessed the effectiveness of a game designed to teach social studies and economics

Presentation from Nesta Futurelab (Ben Williamson, Richard Sandford, Mary Ulicsak).
Respondent Caroline Pelletier (IOE).
Learning Games, Pedagogy and User Led Design
This presentation discusses the user’s role in the game development process in Futurelab research. We will focus on the role of students in the development of three different projects: Astroversity, Racing Academy and Savannah. Astroversity was constructed iteratively to create an environment with the same engagement as mainstream games but supports the development of collaborative and scientific enquiry skills. Racing Academy is intended as a massively multi-user online automotive engineering academy based on leading-edge computer games technology. In the Savannah children “become lions”; it is a strategy-based adventure game where a virtual space is mapped directly onto a real space.

Aleks Krotoski (University of Surrey)
Mark Eyles (University of Portsmouth),
Jon Weinbren (Imaginary Productions, and TIGA)
Chair Aphra Kerr
Convener/abstract D.Carr
Panel: Gender, Games Culture and Games Education
Women and girls, we are told, do not participate in gaming cultures in the same way as their male counterparts: females are held to play less, prefer different games, and engage in games with altogether less intensity than males. What are the implications of this for teachers and facilitators of games studies, games design and games programming degrees? Is it difficult to recruit and retain female students? Do male (and female) hard-core gamers find it difficult to achieve critical distance when studying games? Are some male gamers actually hobbled by ‘anorak-ism’? How do these factors shape dynamics in the classroom? Finally, if men and women are not graduating from games courses in similar numbers, what are the ramifications for Industry? What career paths do women take? Is it difficult to recruit qualified women? Does the Industry perceive this as a problem? Speaking on women, games and games culture: Aleks Krotoski. On Gender and teaching Games: Mark Eyles. On the ramifications for the Games Industry: Jon Weinbren

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