Video Games & Critical Thinking

One of the results of working the past weeks on an article about critical thinking and information literacy was that it provided additional research for video games in education and information literacy. During my literature search, I continued to come across the work of Norris and Ennis (1962, 1989) in defining critical thinking. Here are 9 of the the 14 elements Norris and Ennis (1989) identified and a few brief examples of how the experience of playing video games achieves them:

Grasping the meaning of a statement

- Video games require players to understand the meaning of text within the game, information on where to go/how to play, and puzzles

Judging contradictions in statements

- Puzzles that provide contradictions, multiple non-playable characters(NPCs) who provide conflicting evidence to challenge the player, and players are required to decipher visual contradictions in landscapes and characters in order to proceed to higher levels

Judging if a conclusion based on the evidence is clear

- Game players use available evidence (both in-game and previous gaming experience) to constantly draw conclusions (where to go, what to target, what to collection, who to align with) to progress through the game

Judging if the material is reliability

- In order to make decisions, players make reliability judgments before making a decision on the actions to take; given a choice of paths in a game the player will take the one more trusted and reliable in order to succeed

Judging if a conclusion can be induced

- Inducing conclusions are done naturally and almost automatically in many cases in games, which action happening in multiple locations simultaneously players make logically judgments based on observations often without any formal set process

Judging if the problem is clearly stated

- When a player is stuck or presented with a challenge they could not complete, backtracking and reanalyzing the problem determines the clarity of it and helps players identify information gaps

Judging if the statement is an assumption

- If the chosen action a player takes is based on an assumption the game may punish that action if not all the required information is collected; although games often require assumptions and players’ experiences to provide a low barrier for entry to the game

Judging if the specific definition is acceptable

- A specific definition, choice, action is acceptable if it is successful and the player advances

Judging if a statement is authoritative evidence

- In-game authoritative evidence is based on the characters and settings and while a player will not think of information sources (text, NPCs, other players, etc.) they are making judgments on which is the most important and reliable as they move forward in the game

What other examples can you think of?

Norris, S. P., & Hugh, E. R. (1989). Evaluating Critical Thinking. Pacific Grove, CA: Midwest Publications.


MousePoleFire said...


I don't see how your list of things necessarily relates to video games. I liked your list however.

Have you heard of Skeptoid?

Check that out. This guy is a skeptic and he does like 10 minute podcasts. On the web site above you can listen to a 10 or 20 minute podcast on logical fallacies explained. He does a great job giving a synopsis of them.

Also check your sentence with the word reliability.

Paul said...

thanks for the comment and the link Mousepolefire. And even my continued spelling issues.


Unknown said...

Hi, Paul

I'd like to cite your page in a research paper I'm currently working on, and I'd like to know a bit more about Ennis and Norris. Do you have their credentials, and if so, could you tell me more about them?


albina N muro said...

Kingdom of Solomon is a very fun game for 2-4 players and it takes about an hour to play. gkhq