MindShift’s Guide to Games and Learning

Written by: Casey Miles

Primary Source: Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures

This summer, MindShift has rolled out its Guide to Games and Learning, a multi-part series by Jordan Shapiro looking at the increasingly important role games and gaming have on learning, from literacy to math. In Part 1, “Tapping Into the Potential of Games and Uninhibited Play for Learning,” Shapiro writes, “All games facilitate some kind of learning. Even games that are not meant to be educational teach kids something — even if it’s just the rules of the game. The learning is so effective that it deserves our attention.” The overall aim of this series is to provide theoretical and practical approaches to incorporating games in your classroom.

What drew me to this series was coming across Part 6, “Making Games: The Ultimate Project-Based Learning,” which peaked my own interest in experiential learning. While I’m not a “gamer,” I did grow up on first-generation Nintendo (while I never saved the princess, I’m happy to brag about my Tetris skills). So it’s fascinating to come across gamemaking platforms for kids like Gamestar Mechanic and Scratch.

In Part 10, “Games Can Advance Education: A Conversation With James Paul Gee,” Gee states, “Video games are complex systems composed of rules that interact. Gamers must think like a designer and form hypotheses about how the rules interact so they can accomplish goals and even bring about emergent results. Thinking like a designer in order to understand systems is a core 21st Century skill.” This leads me to wonder how games and gaming, and even project-based learning, can enhance, and perhaps revolutionize, the writing classroom. What assumptions about learning and writing are challenged with learning through games?

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Casey Miles
Casey Miles is PhD student in Rhetoric & Writing, with a master’s degree in Digital Rhetoric & Professional Writing. Casey’s research focuses on queer rhetorics, specifically looking at butch ways of knowing, doing, and being in academic spaces, as well as documentary and video composition. Casey continues to work on her documentary series, The Gender Project, which explores gender, gender identity, and sexuality in everyday lives. Follow her on Twitter @soulsmiles