Computer Games for Affective Learning

Computer Games for Affective Learning

Claire Dormann (University of Ottawa, Canada), Jennifer R. Whitson (Carleton University, Canada) and Robert Biddle (Carleton University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-495-0.ch013

Abstract

This chapter addresses how computer games can support affective learning, taking specific focus on learning for the affective domain. It first explores this domain, describes the issues that can arise in support, and makes connections to the strengths of computer games. The chapter uses activity theory to highlight the role of a game as an effective mediator of learning in the affective domain. These studies of how games support the affective domain involve the observation of game-play and identification of recurring design elements that can be identified as patterns. The chapter describes several patterns, first in larger commercial games, and then in smaller serious games. Finally, it reflects on its findings, and surveys the general nature of game support for learning in the affective domain. Clear evidence is given that games can and do provide such support, with indications of even greater potential with better understanding of the nature of the game-play.
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Background: Affective Learning

Perhaps the most well-known aspect of affective learning involves supporting cognitive leaning. Affective learning includes sustaining positive attitudes toward the course content, subject material or the teacher (Russo & Benson, 2005). Teachers provide emotional assistance and so help students to manage their emotions, therefore reducing anxiety and stress generated by learning tasks, and thus facilitating immediacy. It can also involve support for the joy of learning, inspiring a persistence to accomplish the desired goals even in the face of difficulty (Schlechty, 2001).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sympathy for Victim: A game design pattern that promotes affective learning by promoting feelings of concern and compassion for victims.

Social Change Games: Games that directly attempt to raise awareness of important social issues by delivering powerful statements. These games aim to transform players’ views or attitudes about social issues as well as inspire real-world behavior.

Social Maintenance: A game design pattern that promotes affective learning. Social Maintenance is described as performing actions to redefine and refine the relationship with a group.

Shared Learning: A game design pattern that promotes affective learning. Players share lessons from the game with other players. Through direct and indirect cooperation, players work together to master the game.

Sacrificial Action: A game design pattern that promotes affective learning. Sacrificial Action is the ability to prioritize others’ well-being (NPCs and, in multiplayer games, other players) ahead of the player’s own character’s well-being and advancement.

Call to Action: A game design pattern that promotes affective learning, Call to Action refers to the functions within the game framework that inspire players to step beyond the game and actively participate in social activism.

Game Design Pattern: A convention for describing and documenting recurring game design decisions, generally documented as a three-part rule, which expresses a relation between a certain context, a problem and a solution.

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