Since the introduction of popular video games such as Space Invaders and Pac Man, in the 1980’s the video game industry has grown to immense proportions. However, unlike film or television in their early years, there has been very little research into the instructional applications of computer games. What is most surprising about the lack of research into the instructional use of computer games, particularly by instructional systems technology (IST) professionals, is the fact that this is traditionally a field that has always embraced cutting edge technology and pursued a wide range of research interests. It is proposed here that the IST field to give serious consideration to the educational use of computer games and establish a research agenda to provide support to those practitioners in the field attempting to utilize this new technology.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Empowerment Design: Empowerment design is a newly described area of instructional systems technology research, which looks to combine the useful outcomes of participatory design with the altruistic agenda of critical ethnography in order to allow user input into the design of instructional materials that will best benefit them.
Anchored Instruction: Anchored instruction is a learning paradigm based on the premise that learners require anchoring experiences that they can relate to in order to fully understand instruction. Anchored instruction often relies on technology-based anchors such as the Jasper Woodbury videodisc series.
Computer Games: Computer games or video games are an interactive digital medium consisting of several different genres of digital games. Games vary widely from the first video game Pong (introduced in 1974), which was essentially a low fidelity digital version of tennis. Since their introduction, computer games have multiplied rapidly and their fidelity has increased dramatically to the point at which some of the virtual environments modeled in games are startlingly realistic. Game genres include 1st person shooters, adventure games, racing games, role-playing games, puzzle games, strategy games, and simulation games, as well as countless hybrid combinations. There has been substantial research conducted on the negative effects of gaming such as addiction, carpal tunnel and as a contributing factor to ADD and ADHD. A majority of games lack any significant educational content.
Situated Cognition: Situated cognition is a psychological paradigm for learning that requires social interaction situated in real-world contexts in order for learning to occur. Subscribers to the concept of situated cognition believe that learning, both by individuals and organizations, cannot take place without rich social and contextual interactions.
Computer-Based Instruction (CBI): Computer-based instruction is an instructional paradigm, which uses computer technology to deliver training or educational materials to users. Training video discs or CD-ROMs used in business training are some of the most common types of CBI.
Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI): Human computer interaction is the scientific study of the ways in which people use computer technology. It considers both physical issues such as ergonomics and design issues such as usability.
Educational Games: Educational games are a type of computer game with purported educational value. Educational games include such titles as Oregon Trail, Reader Rabbit, and Sim Earth. Unfortunately, a majority of educational games seem to lack the type of addictive engagement quality of recreational games. Though they represent a niche market, they generally do not sell well and thus, interest in creating them is minimal.