Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Review: Good Video Games + Good Learning

I have mixed feelings about James Paul Gee's Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning and Literacy.

On the pro side, I definitely agree with a lot of his pro-games-as-learning-tool view, and with some of the analysis he's done of the individual titles, and with the parallels to approaches used in education today.

On the other hand, there were a couple bits that irked me a little. First, early in the book he coins the term "good video games" but then doesn't really define it, instead giving a sort of 'you know it when you see it' definition. Secondly, he then goes on to site almost exclusively examples that are big-budget games.

It's in this last part that I feel he does a bit of a disservice to himself and to the reader. Surely some of his theories would be better tested on small Flash games. They'd both serve as cleaner 'petri dish' in which to test theories, and also serve as more accessible fodder to the reader. Can't Tower Defense or Lemonade Stand or Flight Control teach us as much as Rise of Nations?

These complaints aside, it's still interesting if you thirst for analysis of gaming's value for learning and for education of all kinds.

1 comment:

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