The Dynamics of Video Gaming: Influences Affecting Game Play and Learning

The Dynamics of Video Gaming: Influences Affecting Game Play and Learning

Sandra Schamroth Abrams (St. John’s University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-781-7.ch006
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The idea of bridging literacies has been a topic of much research and theory, and educators continue to struggle to help students understand how their learning transcends the classroom walls. Contributing to the discussion, this chapter focuses on factors influencing video game learning, examining the decisions and game play of eight academically struggling eleventh-grade males. Data from two related qualitative studies suggest that direct and peripheral factors influenced students’ game play. Findings from these two studies are important to the discussion of educational gaming because they can inform educators of students’ struggles and successes in learning outside the classroom. Overall, the evaluation of students’ video gaming can provide educators insight into the affordances of this digital literacy and issues affecting student learning outside the classroom.
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Video game playing is a complex activity. It is a digital literacy that involves the use of and interaction with real and virtual tools and images in accordance with the design of a video game program. Such interaction includes, but is not limited to, the use of semiotic tools, the understanding of changing images and their functions, the recognition and response to audio and visual cues, and the assumption of virtual identities.

Multimodality (Jewitt, 2003; Kress, 2003; Kress & Van Leeuwen, 2001), provides a context for the discussion of video gaming, literacy, and meaning making. Unlike traditional ways of defining literacy as reading or writing letters on a page, multimodality accounts for all the elements that are part of the meaning making process, extending the concept of “text” to include any mode—be it music, video, movement, image—and valuing a wide variety of literacy experiences, including video game playing (Kress & Jewitt, 2003). Acknowledging multimodalities inherently validates students’ digital literacies, such as video gaming, and reinforces how critical thinking is equally important in traditional and virtual learning environments (Leu, Castek, Henry, Coiro, & McMullan, 2004, p. 500).

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