Making a Connection : Game Genres, Game Characteristics, and Teaching Structures

Making a Connection : Game Genres, Game Characteristics, and Teaching Structures

Dennis Charsky
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-717-6.ch009
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This chapter will make a connection between game genres, game characteristics, and constructivist teaching structures. Constructivist teaching structures, like open learning environments and anchored instruction, have the same aims as serious games – to facilitate higher order learning skills and knowledge. However, constructivist teaching structures are not games and serious games are grappling with how to design games and keep the fun and learning in perfect balance. Making connections between game genres and characteristics (where much of the fun resides) and teaching structures (where much of the learning resides) will highlight commonalities that can be taken advantage of in the design of good serious games – where learning and fun are in perfect balance.
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Game designers strive to create games that are fun and games that will engage players (Crawford, 2003; Koster, 2005; Rollings & Adams, 2003; Rouse, 2005). Game design strategies that are believed to lead to engagement can include story, shooting, racing, fighting, collaboration, role playing, constructing, managing, and many, many more (Rollings & Adams, 2003). It is because of these exciting and entertaining strategies that the commercial video game industry is so popular and profitable. Dickey (2005) has argued that many of the engagement strategies used in entertainment-based video games can inform instructional design practice because they mirror sound instructional practices. The sound instructional practices that Dickey refers to can be found in many teaching structures grounded in the constructivist philosophy.

Constructivism encompasses a wide array of perspectives; yet while each perspective is different they share some common values and assumptions (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Land & Hannafin, 2000). A common assumption among the many perspectives is that individuals create their own knowledge from their unique experiences, background, and value system (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Duffy, Lowyck, Jonassen, & Welch, 1993; Jonassen, 1991; Jonassen, Cernusca, & Ionas, 2007). Further, constructivists believe that learning is not simply the result of transferring knowledge from one to another, but that knowledge is created by the individual’s unique interpretation. Learners actively seek to construct their understanding by negotiating different perspectives. The learner’s negotiation of different perspectives results in learning; which is always open to change as the learner continues to learn and gain experience (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Land & Hannafin, 2000)

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