Mor(on) Gaming

Lately, being unemployed, I’m doing a lot of gaming. Well, it’s not playing games (not all the time) but it’s the game of find a job. It goes like this: find an appropriate job to apply for, massage resume/cover letter, format, review, send off resume, hope for reply. It’s seemingly a simple game, except that like most things, it’s complex. Each step adds a layer of complexity, which adds further options, which takes time away from what one wants. In what seems simple – apply for a job – it can get really difficult fast. Having played this game for a while, I’ve learned what keywords to pull out and add to my cover letter, how to rephrase passages to accentuate my skills, and how to get to an interview.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the gaming idea in education and how it’s different than education as it exists. With that said, I present a couple presentations that have assisted me in getting to the nitty gritty of gaming. First: Don’t Play Games With Me, which is a good primer for the prevalence of games in today’s society. It also brings up a question of autonomy – it’s OK to game if it’s a choice. What happens when you don’t have a choice to play a game? If a course you are taking is only taught with a gaming theory underpinnings, does the course then become so unfun that the benefits of gaming the course become drawbacks? Second: Pawned. Gamification and Its Discontents which also discusses some of the unintended consequences of gaming.

To me the crucial point is on slide 23 of the second linked presentation, gaming is based on pretty simple behaviorism, which most enlightened educators respect as not the most effective way to learn something. Some of us will remember corporal punishment (going to kindergarten in 1978, I remember hearing the principal’s strap, although I can’t recall if anyone got it) and how it was used as a motivator for learning.  The rest of the presentation is excellent (gold, Jerry, gold!) and well worth the half hour or so to go through.

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