Are Games a form of Literacy?
Thinking of computer games as literacy can be mind stretching.
“Games are a semiotic domain” says (Gee 2003: 19) A semiotic domain is a set of practices that uses one or more modalities. When we play a game we use a set of practices to extract meaning from a range of semiotic codes. Understanding meanings is an active affair and young people like to learn actively. Games can be active fiction. Games provide opportunties to try out different identities. Games provide communities of practice in multi-player games like the World of Warcraft. Problem solving, situated learning, reading in context and planning skills are all part of part of game play.
For example we found that Zoo Tycoon provides opportunities to budget, plan and care for animals as well as the paying visitors to the zoo. DragRacer also provides opportunities to budget and plan. Games like this can be great way to introduce and implement business study concepts and numeracy.
Prensky (2005) believes many young people display a lack motivation and engagement in formal learning because compared to their home literacies, school literacies are boring, old fashioned and not worth listening to. A significant way to engage students of the new millennium is to use “game play” as an educational tool.
TEACHERS NOTE: Ensure clear guidelines are established and understood before students log onto the Internet. Ask students to identify the game/s they will investigate first before turning on the computer or risk a wasted session as they surf between various games. You might set the exploration and identification phase as homework.