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What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Second Edition Paperback – December 26, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Gee astutely points out that for video game makers, unlike schools, failing to engage children is not an option. (Terrence Hackett, The Chicago Tribune)

These games succeed because, according to Gee, they gradually present information that is actually needed to perform deeds. (Norman A. Lockman, USA Today)

James Paul Gee's What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy has been a transformative work. Gee might be described as the Johnny Appleseed of the serious games movement, planting seeds that are springing new growth everywhere we look. More than anyone else, he has forced educators, parents, policy makers, journalists, and foundations to question their assumptions and transform their practices. Gee combines the best contemporary scholarship in the learning scientists with a gamer's understanding of what is engaging about this emerging medium. (Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide)

About the Author

James Paul Gee has been featured in a variety of publications from Redbook, Child, Teacher, and USA Today to Education Week, The Chicago Tribune, and more. He is Professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Described by the Chronicle of Higher Education as "a serious scholar who is taking a lead in an emerging field" he has become a major expert in game studies today.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 2nd edition (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403984530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403984531
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Stacey White on October 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I do not play video games, however, after reading this book I now have a new respect for video games. Gee clearly and eloquently explains the kind of learning that is encouraged in well-designed video games.

This book is NOT a methods book. You will NOT learn techniques on how to design better games or better instruction. But you WILL learn how video games encourage deep learning (i.e., a deep understanding of the game and how to be successful) and develop critical thinking skills that players use to become successful at playing a specific game AND video games in general. You will learn that game designers deliberately develop deep learning and critical thinking skills, NOT to make players experts in zombies or war, but to set them up to be successful at playing the game and to have a great game playing experience. That gamers foster learning that develops self-esteem and self-efficacy through game play. Gee will also share his opinion of how the educational system might incorporate these elements in the classroom to foster critical thinking and deep learning of subject matter.

If you don't play video games, this book will give you insight in to the kind of learning that is deliberately encouraged in video games.
If you DO play video games, you'll develop an understanding of why the games you play are designed that way.
If you design instruction (or video games) you'll now have a framework and a vocabulary you can use to design and discuss those elements that make learning engaging and effective.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KathyGD on September 18, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this book I was enlightened to the in-depth world of video gaming. The only video games I remember playing back the early 1980s was Asteroids, so I had no idea about the complexity of the today's "good games" and the amount of cognitive strategy that goes on within the player's mind. In each chapter Gee goes into specific detail explaining selected game scenarios which correspond to a selected set of his 36 Learning Principles. He states that these learning principles, which are evident in video games, can be transposed to classroom learning. He is critical of the current state of the classroom which, in his opinion, still maintains a lackluster skill-and-drill approach to learning which is a very different strategy presented in video games. The principles Gee has developed while observing- and playing- video games is, as he says, " a plea to build better schools on on better principles of learning."

He makes excellent points that I, and I am sure others, will relate to. Learning through hands-on experience can be so much more rewarding and long lasting, and the scenarios which video games players find themselves working within, activate situated cognition and social learning. In other words, Gee shows us how video games help players learn how to pick up on patterns, learn through the situations they engage within, and operate within a social network where they can synthesize their skills and strategies as a main character in the drama of the game. What I have learned from reading this book is how transformative video game learning can be as compared to passive or outside experience of, for example, listening to a teacher lecture, because players can actually become one of the characters and therefore activate higher levels of learning.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ilya Grigorik on September 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good video games offer players strong identities; they make players think like scientists; they lower the consequences of failure; ... In short, good games provide an environment that is optimized for deep-learning. Best of all, all of these concepts are directly applicable to learning just about any skill - from how to traverse a virtual landscape, to basic science, math, and yes, even good social skills.

That's not to say that every video game on the shelf will meet the above criteria, but as James Gee points points out: many do. After all, if they don't, they're out of business. In the meantime, our educational system could really benefit from picking up a few of the techniques described in this book - ever wonder why so many "ADHD students" can't sit still in class, but then spend hours concentrated on a video game? Perhaps it's not the students, but rather the method of delivery and the content itself? The book offers 36 principles that are often found in great games, and which can help us build both better classrooms and computer games -- or, even better, classrooms with engaging computer games.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Wagoner on December 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
Gee connects gaming to brain-based learning to explain why gaming is a higher form of learning than traditional classroom tasks, especially teacher-centered ones. This is not a practical "how-to set up up gaming in the classroom" book, but the pedagogical foundation for any teacher who starts gaming or gamification. Gee also confronts the idea that gamers are non-social, but rather engaged beyond to authentic learning circles of shared interests.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Dexter on November 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a fourth grade teacher and long time video game player, I was excited to stumble upon a book that took games seriously and discussed them in an academic fashion. All too often, my interactions with parents and fellow educators about video games have ended with the entire hobby being dismissed as a waste of time or somehow harmful to students. iI used to just let them go because I knew I stood little chance of changing their minds, but now I may start pointing some of them towards this book to give them a slightly different perspective.

I'd like to note that Mr. Gee's book does not advocate the use of video games in classrooms. Instead, he argues that well designed video games require players to learn and think in new ways. If the game does not teach players have to survive and thrive in its virtual world, the game will be a failure and the company producing it will not see a return on its investment. Thus, failing to educate its players properly is not an option for video game makers. He then works through how video games make use of his 36 principles of learning and relates these examples to more traditional classroom learning.

Throughout the book, Mr. Gee makes some interesting arguments. Among those I found most interesting are his claim that good video games allow for effective learning in players because they follow a cycle of "automatization, adaptation, new learning, and new automatization (p. 67)." In this cycle, players automate a skill or strategy through constant practice, but are forced to rethink it when faced with a new challenge. This routine then becomes automated, but players are once again forced to alter it when faced with a still different challenge.
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