Monday, June 25
1:30 PM-5:00 PM

An Afternoon of Play: Introduction to Video Game Literacy (please bring your laptop)

Workshop ID: 19619
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    Katrin Becker
    University of Calgary

Abstract: Not sure if games are good or bad for us? Not sure how much of what you hear is hype and how much is real? Want to know what it is that has your students so pre-occupied? For many of today’s generation, digital games are replacing television as leisure activity and hype about games for learning in school settings is once again increasing. Digital games have become at least as much a part of our culture as television was to previous generations and so, it behoves us to become familiar with the medium, but where can a novice go to get some experience? Games are no longer trivial so how are we to know where to start? Come join me in this two part tutorial and get a first-hand look at some of the games of interest to educators and see how Serious Games are having an impact on teaching and learning. Part one will introduce you to the field of serious games, some of what we already know about how games teach and some of the challenges to the use of games in the classroom. Part two will offer participants a hands-on opportunity to gain game literacy through play.


Participants will come away from this tutorial with: o An overview of some of the advantages and challenges associated with the use of digital games in the classroom. o An increased ability to talk about video games from an informed perspective to form new connections between today’s learners and teachers. Participants will have an opportunity to: o Become familiar with some of the game terminology and genres of digital games. o Be introduced to specific games of potential interest in educational contexts. o Learn how to play a selection of popular ‘E’ and ‘T’ rated games with other novices. Take-aways: CD containing slides from the talk, lists of all games and links to their official websites, an annotated list of resources for more information (books, articles, websites), an off-line copy of the presenters’ Serious Games Pathfinder website, several freeware games.

Topical Outline

What are games doing now? o 1.1 Prologue View: “PBS Video Game Revolution” Excerpts from the 2005 PBS special will start at 1:30 sharp and play while people are getting settled Introduction and Introductions o 1.2 Presentation: What’s All The Buzz? Brief overview of the day’s tutorial, and (depending on audience size) introductions or a series of questions to be answered collectively. [who are you; why are you here; what you hope to get out of it; what is your experience with games;] Case Study 1: A Simple Message o 1.3 Presentation & Hands On: Why Use Games? Hands on: play with September 12 Facilitator will ‘lead’ the play demo, followed by brief discussion of how something like this might be useful. Case Study 2: Getting Fancy o 1.4 What Can Games Do? A Look at Several Games through game trailers, official websites, etc. In a few cases the games will be demo’d live (like Oregon Trail). How many of the listed games are examined depends on the audience and the available time. o Games & Official Websites o Trailers / Video clips and much more! Hands-on (please bring your laptop) The purpose of the hands on section is to give participants an opportunity to play games in a supportive environment. Participants will be asked to play together in groups so they can help each other and share ideas. The number of sites and games experienced depends on the audience and the available time. During this time questions about where and how video games could be used in the classroom are discussed. Welcome to the Arcade: Hands On, Q & A, Discussion o , World of Monkey Island , Hungry Red Planet , Civilization III, DDR (Dance Dance Revolution): o Food Force, The Typing of the Dead o Animal Crossing; New Super Mario Bros. Phoenix Wright; Trauma Center; Electroplankton; Sims 2, Tetris, Mario Kart Debriefing: Where does that leave us? o Presentation Where to Find; How to Assess; Opportunities for further play o Teachers Evaluating Educational Multimedia [UK] (TEEM) o Games Parents Teachers o GameCritics o MobyGames


People with little or no first-hand experience using (playing) modern video games. Note: online gambling and games like Solitaire are sufficiently different from commercial video games that they don’t count as experience. Intended audience: Teachers, Administrators, Academics, Tech Support (pretty much anyone involved in use of, maintenance of, decisions surrounding the use of technology in formal education).

Experience Level



Katrin Becker taught Computer Science (CS) at the University of Calgary for 23 years and is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Technology studying instructional design of video games. Her innovations in teaching CS have been internationally recognized and her current work breaks new ground in the theoretical landscape of digital game based learning by using a reverse engineering approach to uncovering instructional design principles in existing successful games. Katrin is uniquely positioned to bring expertise and literacy in both CS and educational research to bear on the question of how and what people learn in digital game based environments. She’s been using digital games to teach since 1998, designed and taught one of the first Digital Game Based Learning courses for an Education faculty, and has published widely in both CS education and digital game design and use for learning. These days she also spends some of her time helping teachers and others gain games literacy so they can see the educational potential of video games for themselves.
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