Children as video game critics
This project was our first approach to the study of commercial video games as an educational tool. Based on our research on literacy and our interest in including new motivating tools, we organized an extracurricular workshop. In it, boys and girls wrote different articles for the school’s digital newspaper on the basis of their reflections over the video games.
- To design educational environments that encourage the development of abilities related to literacy in the written language through video games.
- To analyze processes related to the reception, understanding and re-construction of the information conveyed through technological tools.
Based on our interest in creating educational spaces with the presence of video games, we organized an extracurricular workshop in which boys and girls in primary education created articles for the school digital newspaper.
In this workshop, computer video games such as “Pink Panther: Passport to Peril” or “Asterix and Obelix” became educational tools that helped students to reflect and also to collaborate.
A group of 24 children aged between 8 and 11 participated in the workshop. The workshop’s goal was for children to produce "reconstructions of the video games" present in the said workshop, which would subsequently be published in the school newspaper and could be of help to other children who wanted to play.
They all played the same video game “Pink Panther: Passport to Peril”, with the aim of reconstructing, once the game was over, the story it had narrated and publish it in school newspaper . To achieve this, children worked with different screens within the video game, which became support points to reconstruct the narrative.
On the basis of the reflections in small and large groups derived from the game itself, they reached certain conclusions and rated the video games they had used, writing down their assessments in cards. In this situation they had to take an active role as critics of the video game they were using and not just play as they usually do. All the ideas that resulted from their debates are uploaded in their school’s digital newspaper "La Huella".
Approaching video games in a critical way
The educational use of video games implies a reflection, on the part of students, upon the decisions and actions undertaken during the game. In this way, we foster the process of reconstructing narratives whose main character is the hero in the video game.
Writing on the Internet
Using multimodal discourses in educational settings, through the use of new technologies, may contribute to the creation of a collective awareness as well as an individual one when boys and girls adopt the role of writers. Differences between a formal and non-formal education crumble down, with children placing utmost importance on assuming their identity as “journalists”, something that makes sense inside and outside of the classroom.
The teacher’s role
An aspect that the teacher must take into account is that when the child is faced with a video game, the goals he or she seeks are totally different to the adult’s. The teacher must guide the activities derived from the game so that children become aware of what they are learning and what they have already learned. We must take into account that when we play with video games we are not passive spectators, as is the case with other media; on the contrary, we can intervene in the game, we interact. This is why it is important for children not just to play along, but to play with another or many other classmates or friends.
Project financed by the Dirección General de Investigación (General Research Directorate) under the title ‘La Presencia de la Tecnología en la Vida Infantil. Nuevas Alfabetizaciones (The presence of technology in children´s life: new literacies)’. Ref. BSO2002-04065-C02-01; 2002/2005.
- Lacasa, P. & Research Group GIPI (2010). Video games at the Institute. Digital leisure as a learning tool. Research Report. Madrid: Electronic Arts Spain & University of Alcala
- Lacasa, P.; Méndez, L.; Martínez, R. (2008). Aprender a contar historias y a reflexionar con videojuegos comerciales. In Gross, B. ‘Videojuegos y Aprendizaje’. Barcelona: Grao.
- Lacasa, P., Méndez, L., & Martinez, R. (2008) ‘Bringing commercial games into the classrooms’ Computers and Composition,25, pp. 331-358.
- Lacasa, P.; Martínez-Borda, R.; Méndez, L. (2008) ‘Developing new literacies using commercial digital games as educational tools’. Linguistis & Education, 19 (2), pp. 85-106.
- Lacasa, P.; Méndez, L.; Martínez, R. (2009). ‘Learning using videogames as educational tools: Building bridges between commercial and serious games’. In Marja Kankaanranta & Pekka Neittaanmäki (Eds) ‘Design and use of serious games’, (107-126). Milton Keynes, UK: Springer.