A Video Game, a Chinese Otaku, and Her Deep Learning of a Language

A Video Game, a Chinese Otaku, and Her Deep Learning of a Language

Kim Feldmesser (University of Brighton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-503-2.ch419


The design of serious games based on sound learning and instructional principles is important to ensure learning is integrated in the ‘game-play’. However, the process of achieving this is not yet fully understood, and research is hampered by the lack of practical demonstrations of how effective instructional design is when used alongside game design. This chapter provides an example of a successful application of instructional design to the development process of a serious game for traffic accident investigators in the Dubai police force. We use the findings from an experiment conducted for 56 police officers to analyze how learning objects are affected by the instructional principles used. To conclude the chapter, we describe the implications of the use of serious games in the police force for policymakers, educators, and researchers.
Chapter Preview


Tell Me and I Will Forget

Show Me and I May Remember

Involve Me and I Will Understand

- Confucius 430BC

This is a longitudinal qualitative study of how a ‘virtual world’ of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) video games was providing a safe space for an intermediate-level second language learner. The study investigates her ability to develop deep learning of English by engaging in extensive video game-play in the target language. Drawing on Vygotskian principles of research, which focus on the process and not the outcome of development, this small-scale research project explored, through interview, the process of learning to play Deus ExTM.

I chose the title of this project having read Tobin’s (1999) experiences with his son entitled An American Otaku. As the computer miniaturizes into ‘must-have’ fashion accessories such as mobile phones and handheld gaming devices, a new generation is buying into the cyber age. Tobin (1999) used it to describe his son’s fanaticism with the role-playing game Warhammer™ and his immersion into cyberculture at the beginning of the millennium. As a father of a teenager, he asks himself pertinent questions about the possible ramifications of using this new technology—such questions as whether a life on the Net can be satisfying, and whether his son’s self-confidence and the interpersonal skills he is developing through e-mail communications can translate into real life? Will he have ‘real’ (face-to-face) friends? Do otaku grow up to be happy, normal adults? The fixation on new technology that stigmatized otaku a decade ago is now in common use among teenagers growing up in technologically advanced societies that are rapidly being changed by the technology of the integrated circuit and the Internet. The title reflects how the subject, Zoe, a mainland-Chinese English Language student, was drawn in to extensive video game-play by effective game design despite the barrier of the second language. Like an otaku, she would spend many hours alone playing the video game Deus Ex on her laptop in the host family bedroom.

The Research

For the sake of brevity, the background to how the research was initially set up has not been included; the details of how the subject Zoe was found, the year-long platonic relationship of the author with the subject as a support tutor in her curriculum studies, and how, through many conversations about learning styles, she agreed to participate in this study have also been left out. Similarly, the ethical considerations that were taken into account prior to, during, and after the study have been edited, only including those areas which may impact on future research.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: