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VWN Product Review: Women and Gaming: The Sims and 21st Century Learning

Women and Gaming: The Sims and 21st Century Learning
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By James Paul Gee, Elisabeth R. Hayes
Produced By Palgrave Macmillan
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Video games have become both big business and a technological focal point for new forms of learning. Today games are not just played; players engage in game design, write fan fiction, and organise themselves into collaborative learning communities. In these communities players acquire 21st century skills in technology, but, in the best of these communities, they hone these technical skills and strengthen emotional and social intelligence.

Games provide information when it is needed, rather than all at once in the beginning, as standard education tends to ? all theory then practical. With games, the practical comes first, then the theory follows. Games also provide an environment that Gee calls "pleasantly frustrating." They are challenging but doable. Many game developers also invite players to modify their products through modding. The developers share the software and encourage players to create new levels or scenarios.

"Think about it. If I have to make the game, or a part of the game, I come to a deep understanding of the game as a rule system. If I had to mod science?that is, I had to make some of my own curriculum or my own experiments?then I'd have an understanding at a deep level of what the rules are," Gee was quoted as saying.

The authors argue that women gamers?too often ignored as gamers?are in many respects leading the way in this trend towards design, cultural production, new learning communities, and the combination of technical proficiency with emotional and social intelligence. We draw on case studies about women who ?play? the Sims, the best selling game in history, to argue a new general theory of learning for the 21st Century.




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