Fans, Bloggers, & Gamers by Jenkins

I picked away at Henry Jenkins book Fans, Bloggers and Gamers this week. There is one specific chapter about video games which brings up a variety of issues and discussion pieces.

Jenkins starts off discussing some of the legal controversy and challenges that violent video games faced in recent years. While it’s a little dated and doesn’t include of the state challenges and regulations, his point still applies. Jenkins points out the opponents of violent video games try to have it both ways. It is argued that; 1) video games contain no expressions and do not convey ideas and 2) the content and ideas within games are harmful. If games contain no ideas, then why are harmful? With an argument like that, it should come as no surprise that the courts continue to uphold games as part of protected free speech.

Games are unique in that they allow the player to create and construct their own events and meanings. Jenkins discusses how meanings emerge through the interpretation of the game and because of this each player can experience a different meaning based upon their own game experience. This personalization of a meaningful experience only makes it more powerful and more valuable for the player. For us as educators, this knowledge calls us to try to create these experiences within our classroom. Our students all enter with a variety of motivations and experiences, but video games and gaming strategies help us create a learning environment where those individual motivations are used and strengthened.

Jenkins briefly mentions the work of Gee and Kurt Squire. Jenkin’s discussion of Squire’s work is interesting not for the skills he is teaching, but more for the character that the games help develop. Squire’s game-based learning builds upon the existing beliefs and realities of those playing. In addition to the gameplay experience, the discussion, reflection and interpretation of that experience is just as useful as a learning tool.

“These kids are taught to explore their environment, make connections between distinct developments, form interpretations based on making choices and playing out their consequences, and map those lessons onto their understanding of the real world.” (p.214)
If you weren’t reading that quote on a site devoted to video games and information literacy, what would you assume the quote referred to?

Jenkins also talks about how games’ “open-ended structure puts the burden on the user to make choices and explore their consequences” (p.218). This is exactly the same video game strategy that our information literacy team is successfully applying to our information literacy program.. these are the sessions that I’ve been discussing this week


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