Games, Marks and Informal Learning

Games. I love them. I used to play World Of Warcraft, Warhammer Online and going back further, Dark Age Of Camelot. I’ve been Elderitch (a bastardization of Palmer Elderitch, a character in a Philip K. Dick novel) in each of those games, so if you see me around feel free to say, “hi”. I’ve also played a whackload of others, doing beta testing with half a dozen more. What really strikes anyone¬† who spends a few minutes is the capacity for a group of players to learn a lot of information in a short amount of time – people learn a whole lot about how the game works and what the best matchups are, or the best skills. Educators have long wanted to harness some of the zealotry that gamers have put into games, and put it into education. Yet, that zealotry rarely translates. Why? Lots of theories abound – motivation is the “big push” though. What makes learning in games tick is the same stuff that makes informal learning tick. Why talk about this? Well, I’ve been looking at the patterns I’m exhibiting since buying an Xbox 360 (gamertag: dietsociety) and I’ll spend time searching out how to do something online, or connect with another gamer to figure out the problem. With my traditional education, I don’t necessarily jump to collaborate first. I wonder if that’s because I feel like a formal education is an individual competition – for marks – whereas my informal education (for games specifically) are a group competition – for points.