Does Fantasy Enhance Learning In Digital Games?

Does Fantasy Enhance Learning In Digital Games?

Mahboubeh Asgari (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and David Kaufman (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-731-2.ch005

Abstract

Digital games have the potential to create environments that increase motivation, engage learners, and support learning. This chapter focuses on fantasy as one of the motivational features of games, and explores the relationships among digital games, fantasy, and learning. The authors describe game characteristics and the key factors that make digital games motivational and compelling – important factors in designing games for learning. Motivation is critical in engaging students in learning activities, and this chapter explores fantasy as an important motivational feature in digital games, the popular genre of fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, and the importance of creating different kinds of fantasies for males and females. Finally, the authors explore the integration of learning content in fantasy contexts in digital games.
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Background

Game Definition

Generally, a game is defined as a set of voluntary activities which has participants, goals, rules, and some kind of (physical or mental) competition. Dempsey, Haynes, Lucassen, & Casey (2002) define a game as “a set of activities involving one or more players. It has goals, constraints, payoffs, and consequences. A game is rule-guided and artificial in some respects. Finally, a game involves some aspect of competition, even if that competition is with oneself” (p. 159). The term “digital game” usually refers to games played using a personal computer or personal game machine. Prensky (2001) defines digital games by a set of key characteristics including: rules, goals and objectives, outcomes and feedback, conflict/ competition/ challenge/ opposition, interaction, and representation or story. (see Chapter 1 for a complete discussion). Digital games can be categorized as adventure, simulation, competition, cooperation, programming, puzzles, and business management games (Hogle, 1996, citing Dempsey, Lucassen, Gilley, & Rasmussen, 1993; Jacobs & Dempsey, 1993).

During the past 40 years, digital games have been played with a variety of technologies and on many devices: from a sealed console, floppy disk, CD-ROM, with email, on the Internet, and with handheld machines such as the Game Boy®, mobile phones, and game consoles such as the Sony PlayStation® 2/3 or Nintendo’s Gamecube®. Digital games can be played individually, against the computer, or against other people, either face-to-face or online. The terms computer game and video game are usually used interchangeably and the term “digital game” incorporates both.

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