Using MMORPGs in Classrooms: Stories vs. Teachers as Sources of Motivation

Using MMORPGs in Classrooms: Stories vs. Teachers as Sources of Motivation

Mete Akcaoglu (Michigan State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2848-9.ch002


This case deals with the problem of decision making in allocating resources during an educational game-development process. In educational games, unlike commercial games, there is an added focus on creating learning content, shifting the balance between learning and fun to a degree where essential game elements might be excluded from these games. In some cases, classroom settings, however, are filled with elements that can emulate the role of a missing element. As it was seen in this case, even when some important game elements (i.e., narratives) were missing from a game, the presence of some important classroom elements (i.e., teachers) helped replace them.
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Literature Review

Among many game types available, MMORPGs stand out as ideal candidates for language learning for their potential to solve some of the very important challenges to foreign language education: “the lack of the resources, milieu, and incentives to learn and use the target language for real purposes” (Zhao & Lai, 2008, p. 407). Perhaps, one of the most important potential of MMORPGs in language learning is their ability to provide meaningful and authentic contexts for communication and language use, because by definition MMORPGs are played with many other people. This aligns perfectly with the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach –the current prominent language teaching theory in second language studies- which sees communication as a fundamental skill a language learner needs to acquire. Hence, communication is a key component of both MMORPGs and current language teaching approaches. Additionally, CLT sees language learning as a social activity (Warschauer, Meskill, & Rosenthal, 2000), and the meaning of the words rather than the grammar is of greater importance (Nunan, 2004). In this sense, being able to use language for communication rather than dealing with grammar is the focus of this approach (Nunan, 2004). MMORPGs, from this perspective, prove to be ideal platforms for language learners to get together and use the language in authentic and meaningful ways, and to communicate with others to accomplish certain game-related tasks.

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