Strategies to Teach Game Development Across Age Groups

Strategies to Teach Game Development Across Age Groups

Lakshmi Prayaga (University of West Florida, USA), James W. Coffey (University of West Florida, USA) and Karen Rasmussen (University of West Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4018-4.ch006
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The process of game development can be used as a highly motivating learning experience geared to the teaching and learning of a variety of skills in students of varying ages. This article presents a description of a conceptual framework for teaching and learning based on game creation, including pedagogical foundations, a model of instruction for game development, age-related issues relative to learning tasks, and the basic aspects of game development. The authors compare the expectations for types of concepts and technologies employed with middle and high school students versus those employed with college-level students in game development. Projects that illustrate these differences are then presented, and the article closes with a summary and conclusions.
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2. Literature On Game Development Across Age Groups

It is clear that computer games provide a highly motivating medium for teaching and learning. Jones (2003) and Oblinger (2004) indicate that nearly 60% of students in the age group of six and older play computer games. Although games have been used as a source of entertainment, they might also be used in a variety of ways for serious purposes such as training employees, developing strategic and psychometric skills, providing education, and building social skills, in an umbrella description called “serious games” (Whatley, 2005).

The idea of using games for instruction is emerging as an effective, efficient and motivating strategy (Jenkins & Hinrichs, 2003). Batson and Feinberg (2006) observed that in addition to improving students’ academic performance, the gaming context also improved student attitudes and social interaction skills. In addition, the gaming environment is beneficial to the unmotivated failing students (Dede, 2005). Dede observed that students who are distracted and cannot concentrate on classroom proceedings can be highly focused and motivated to complete a task when engaged in games.

Game development is one pedagogical application of games. Game development is inherently multi-disciplinary. While it is a challenge to develop curricula that integrate art, design, and technology including programming (Baer, 2005), game development is one of the best mediums for doing so. Furthermore, game development both encourages and requires collaboration, and it tends to break down disciplinary walls (Masuch & Rueger 2005; McCallum et al., 2004).

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