This chapter examines hidden curricula and pedagogy of digital games in order to clarify their educational meaning and importance. The experiences which players get from the inherent ideology of digital games was categorized into four areas: fantasy, immersion, representation and identification, and making sense of the game’s system or model. These hidden curricula are important for learninggame designers to consider in that they are internalized subconsciously. Also these hidden aspects of games are important for teachers to help motivate players for learning, to facilitate self-directed playing and learning, to improve gender sensitivity, and to help with the transfer of knowledge from games to real life. Games have the magical ability to inspire players through compelling stories, challenges, and activities. The hidden curricula of games are bound to continue to be an issue of great concern for educators in coming years.
Internet-connected computers are now more than just a tool and a medium for packaging and presenting information; they have achieved an importance that rivals the former king of popular media, television. Computers have become a universal source of entertainment as more people discover the joys of computer-based gaming. People across the world today spend a huge amount of time and money playing computer games. Digital games are now a dominant cultural form of the 21st century. Inherent in any technology or media is a certain set of assumptions and an ideology that is either overtly or imperceptibly transmitted along with it. Because of the increased importance of computer games in today’s media culture, as well as because they make up such an important part of the lives of today’s children, they have become an area of serious thought and examination. “Computer game playing is increasingly the leisure activity of choice for children, and needs to be considered closely” (McCarty, 2001, p. 22).
The computer has become ubiquitous in young people’s lives much as television was for the Baby Boom generation that grew up after the Second World War. It is used as a productivity enhancing information management tool, as well as an entertainment and communication device. The “computer is a […] toy that adults and children can both use to find inspiration, stimulate the imagination, explore the world and meet other human beings, and gain new experiences that can rejuvenate their senses and personalities” (Tapscott, 1998, p. 159). Many of these types of experiences can be obtained playing computer games. “During the early nineties […] video and computer games became a matter-of-course in the everyday life of young people, including children” (Fromme, 2003, p. 1). For game players, the computer is a toy. However, “toys are also cultural objects, socializing agents, [and] carriers of the dominant ideology” (Gottschalk, 1995, p. 4). In addition, “computer games, like other texts, circulate and are embedded within existing discourses to do with gender, ethnicity, class and power” (Beavis, 1998, p. 8). What children learn from computer games is of great concern to society at large and to educators, who should adjust to the different formative experiences of what has been called the “games generation”.
The generation gap that has occurred since the emergence of the computer and the computer game, changing the patterns of play (and of thinking) of today’s students are of great importance for teachers who wish to better understand their students’ experiences with computers, and computer games in particular. In education, computer games must be examined for two important reasons. First, it is essential that teachers understand the media environment their students experience and participate in away from school, so that they may instruct them in being informed and critical members of it. Second, teachers can and should use its language that their students understand best in order to further learning of young children.
This chapter will examine the inherent ideology that computer games transmit, or what Gottschalk calls “videology”—the system of interrelated assumptions video-games articulate” (p. 5), in order to clarify the educational meaning and importance of these media, including issues of gender and violence. What are those aspects and how do they affect teaching and learning will also be examined. In addition, their implications for game design and utilization in classroom will be summarized.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Motivation: Motivation refers to the initiation, direction, intensity, and persistence of behavior. It is having desire, intentions, and needs that determine human behavior.
Immersion: Immersion is the state where anyone ceases to be aware of his/her physical self. It is frequently accompanied by intense focus, distorted sense of time, and effortless action.
Pedagogy: Pedagogy is the study and theory of the methods and principles of teaching. Pedagogy is the art or science of being a teacher, generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction
Hidden Curriculum: Hidden curriculum refers to those unstated norms, values, and beliefs embedded in and transmitted to students (players in game). This can have non-academic but educationally significant consequences of the participating activities. Hidden curriculum is the part of the curriculum knowledge or the subject matter that is not solely academic, but it includes the personal and social knowledge as well.
Flow: Flow is the state of optimal happiness which people get when they are actively participating in tasks. Csikszentmihalyi (1992) identifies “concentration on the activity” and “involvement in the activity” as two characteristics of the flow experience.
Identification: Identification is an unconscious mental process, by which someone makes part of their personality conform to the personality of another who serves as a model.
Fantasy: Fantasy is an imagined event or sequence of mental images, such as a daydream, usually fulfilling a wish or psychological need. The contexts of computer games provide fantasy, curiosity, concentration and uncertainty, and so forth. Those cannot be experienced in the real world.
Representation: Representation is a formal system for making explicit certain entities or types of information, together with a specification of how the system does this.