About Serious Games

Serious games (SGs) or persuasive games are computer and video games used as persuasion technology or educational technology. They can be similar to educational games, but are often intended for an audience outside of primary or secondary education. Serious games can be of any genre and many of them can be considered a kind of edutainment.

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Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Some Foundations for Second Life Pedagogy

Sex, commerce and stalking. In recent discussions on our campus on the use of Second Life as a learning environment, these were some of the first things people noted as concerns. Sex was a problem just because it was there to contend with - whereas it is not much of a factor in our current LMS! It was also thought that some of the economic arguments about Second Life being an "authentic" environment (because of the real economy) were questionable; i.e. what is so "authentic" about commerce, and is that the kind of "authenticity" we want to emphasize in our courses. And stalking is a bad thing, of course...

I did not share these concerns about Second Life. In ways I find both reassuring and depressing, sex, commerce and stalking are all part of life on campus anyway, and in these regards Second Life does not differ much from life on our offline, physical campus (except that real sex is better and real stalking is worse than Second Life sex/stalking).

Being a design-minded individual, my attention was more captivated by the unique pedagogical opportunities and challenges posed by the Second Life medium. We were lucky enough to have Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins visit our campus to give a presentation on educational uses of Second Life. She described a lesson she designed on self-presentation and identity (or so I recall, I forget exactly how she herself positioned the lesson) where students had to choose bodies from a box or treasure-trunk, don them, and go out and interact in Second Life in those bodies. One group of students chose to go out as Kool-Aid men, and they went to a bar, where they bumped into people, angered them, got marginalized, tried to hide, sought solidarity with each other, and in general behaved like members of a visually conspicuous minority group. They returned to the home island a very short time after venturing out, having learned an enormous amount about size issues, discrimination and minority identities.

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