Games and Learning/Topics/Play/Stratagy

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Strategy video games are a video game genre that emphasize skillful thinking and planning to achieve victory. They emphasize strategic, tactical, and sometimes logistical challenges. Many games also offer economic challenges and exploration. These games sometimes incorporate physical challenges, but such challenges can annoy strategically minded players.



Squire, K. (2005), 'Changing the game: What happens when video games enter the classroom', Innovate: journal of online education 1 (6).

Kurt Squire criticizes the current organization of schools based on his experiences using Civilization III in a high school history classroom. Squire's case study reveals that Civilization III appeals particularly to those students for whom a traditional education is simply not working. Students who do well in the classroom, however, are more reluctant to view gaming as a legitimate learning tool and experience much more frustration when playing the game. Squire looks to the hierarchical organization of the classroom as the reason behind this perhaps suprising result. He outlines the benefits of and obstacles to widespread game implementation, pointing out the failures of the traditional secondary curriculum and detailing improvements that would organize school culture around learning rather than social control.

Squire, K. D. & Durga, S. (in press), Productive gaming: The case for historiographic game play, in R. Ferdig, ed., 'The handbook of educational gaming', Information Science Reference, Hershey, PA.

Recent years have witnessed unforeseen leaps in technology, which many have argued are ushering in a new media paradigm (Games, Learning, and Society, 2005/2007). Video games are an excellent site to examine in order to understand this new medium, because games are natively digital. Video games are emblematic of the current popular culture we live in that has a distinctive zeitgeist. Examining games, we see three overriding themes that demarcate the modern media landscape:Video games are built around a logic of simulation, one that is about possible worlds, rather than inspiring oratory, coherent linear arguments, or purely visual imagery. Games are worlds we explore, and learn within, through interaction and performance. Video games are participatory, in that players have the opportunity to shape the medium itself through (a) production within game worlds (many of which are filmed and published on the Internet), (b) production with game tools (such as modding), and (c) gaining membership in affinity groups, such as gaming clans, guilds, clubs, and so on, to support one’s gaming. Video games provide an aesthetic experience. Video games offer us opportunities to do new things and take on identities that are unavailable in the real world. As Galarneau writes, their potential impact in education may be best thought of as producing transformative experience (Galarneau, 2005 GLS Proc.).

A mature theory of game-based learning, we argue, will take into account the underlying principles by which they work as learning environments “naturalistically”, or “in the wild,” to borrow Hutchins’s (Hutchins, 1995) term. Modern video games, with their myriad of toolkits for modding and interface editing, have increasingly evolved from being compelling mediums that merely engage users passively into spaces (and communities) that empower users to willfully create and disseminate content (Jenkins & Squire 2003; Steinkuehler & Johnson, this volume). As such, video games are not only a pervasive popular culture media, but also form some of the central discourses around 21 st century pedagogical practices and what it means to teach or learn in a globalized future. The growing body of literature around video games and learning suggests that games are powerful models for teaching and can potentially affect how people can and ought to learn in the ever-changing landscape of knowledge (Shaffer & Gee, 2006,). A key challenge that remains for educators is how to produce pedagogical models that leverage the strengths of the medium, yet meet educationally valued goals. Restated, we know that players learn through participation in MMOs such as World of Warcraft (Steinkuehler, 2005, Nardi, forthcoming Proc., Galarneau 2006), and that educational interventions that use game technologies (such as networked 3D worlds) can be effective, but how might we harness the simulation, participatory, and aesthetic dimensions of games for intentional learning?

This paper will examine the potential of video games as a learning tool given their productive capacity for content creation and dissemination. Using the Civilization III game engine (a turnbased historical simulation-strategy game), it explores whether a group of disadvantaged kids playing a series of historically themed scenarios can become the kind of “producers” of media and knowledge described by Squire and Giovanetto (in press). It seeks to build on the participatory nature of gaming communities (most often virtual) which function for many players as “third spaces” – spaces that emerge out of coherent and shared history of information and tend to perpetuate game practices beyond virtual game worlds and foster social interactions beyond homes and workplaces (Steinkuehler & Williams, 2006). As of this writing, our community is primarily face-to-face, although we are exploring ways to extend the community into virtual spaces as well.