Why a Game Canon for Game Studies Education Is Wrong
One of the most important parts of the design of any media literacy-related curriculum is deciding what to study. Which films should film students watch and understand? Which are the fundamental books a literature student should know? And games? What is the canonical list of games essential to a game studies education? Should we choose games that influenced game design and broadened our understanding of the medium? Or, should we pick those that were critically lauded over those that were commercially successful? A canon of video games for game studies education is an attractive idea. After all, the exemplars of a medium showcase the medium at its best, perhaps providing a yard stick against which we can compare all other games. However, there are also drawbacks in using canonical games for supporting games literacy. This chapter expands on prior research on the challenges of games education by discussing canonical lists of games and the negative impact they can have in educational settings. Each of the issues identified is described in the context of educational theory as well as relevant games research literature. The chapter concludes with an argument for the use of nontraditional, non-mass-market, noninfluential and, for the most part, unimportant video games in game studies education.
KeywordsVideo Game Simple Game Game Industry Established Game Game Literacy
- Abbott, M. (2010). Unplayable. The Brainy Gamer. http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brainy_gamer/2010/09/unplayable.html. Accessed 10 Oct 2010.
- Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.) (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school (Expanded Ed.). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
- Bruce, C. (1997). The seven faces of information literacy. Adelaide: Auslib Press.Google Scholar
- Buckingham, D. (1993). Children talking television: The making of television literacy. London: Falmer.Google Scholar
- Buckingham, D., & Burn, A. (2007). Game literacy in theory and practice. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 16(3), 323–349.Google Scholar
- Byron, S., Curran, S., & McCarthy, D. (2006). Game on! from Pong to Oblivion. The 50 greatest video games of all time. London: Headline Publishing Group.Google Scholar
- Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.). (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the design of social futures. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Curran, S. (2004). Game plan: Great designs that changed the face of computer gaming. Mies: RotoVision.Google Scholar
- Edelson, D. (1998). Realizing authentic science learning through the adaptation of scientific practice. In B. J. Fraser & K. G. Tobin (Eds.), International handbook of science education (pp. 317–331). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
- Fortugno, N. (2009). Losing your grip: Futility and dramatic necessity in shadow of the colossus. In D. Davidson (Ed.), Well Played 1.0: Video games, value, and meaning (pp. 171–186). Pittsburgh: ETC Press.Google Scholar
- Fox, M. (2006). The videogames guide. London: Boxtree.Google Scholar
- Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: PalGrave-McMillan.Google Scholar
- Gilster, P. (1997). Digital literacy. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Hoffman, M., & Blake, J. (2003). Computer literacy: Today and tomorrow. Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges, 18(5), 221–233.Google Scholar
- IGDA. (2008). Curriculum framework – version 3.2 beta. http://www.igda.org/wiki/images/e/ee/Igda2008cf.pdf. Accessed 19 Sept 2008.
- Kafai, Y. (1995). Minds in play: Computer game design as a context for children’s learning. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Kirsch, I. S., Jungeblut, A., Jenkins, L., & Kolstadt, A. (2002). Adult literacy in America: A first look at the findings of the National Adult Literacy Survey (3rd Ed.). National Center for Education Statistics – U.S. Department of Education. Available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs93/93275.pdf. Accessed 16 Mar 2011.
- Kolodner, J. L., & Guzdial, M. (2000). Theory and practice of case-based learning aids. In D. Jonassen & S. Land (Eds.), Theoretical foundations of learning environments (pp. 215–244). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Loguidice, B., & Barton, M. (2009). Vintage games: An insider look at the history of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the most influential games of all time. Burlington: Focal Press.Google Scholar
- Lowder, J. (Ed.). (2007). Hobby games: The 100 best. Renton: Green Ronin Publishing.Google Scholar
- McGuire, M., & Chadwicke Jenkins, O. (2008). Creating games: Mechanics, content, and technology. Wellesley: A K Peters.Google Scholar
- Moore, D., & Dwyer, F. (1994). Visual literacy: A spectrum of visual learning. Englewood Cliffs: Educational Technology.Google Scholar
- Mott, T. (Ed.). (2007). Edge presents the 100 best videogames. Bath: Future Publishing.Google Scholar
- Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Salen, K. (2007). Gaming literacies: A game design study in action. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 16(3), 301–322.Google Scholar
- Schick, L. (1991). Heroic worlds: A history and guide to role-playing games. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
- Shaffer, D. W., & Resnick, M. (1999). “Thick” authenticity: New media and authentic learning. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 10(2), 195–215.Google Scholar
- Sims, P. (2010). Wikipedia puts an end to the secret of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Daily Mail Online (from August 30, 2010). http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1307307/Agatha-Christies-The-Mousetrap-Wikipedia-puts-end-secret-whodunnit.html. Accessed 2 Oct 2010.
- Spencer, M. (1986). Emergent literacies: A site for analysis. Language Arts, 63(5), 442–453.Google Scholar
- Squire, K. D. (2005). Changing the game: What happens when videogames enter the classroom? Innovate, 6(1), (n.p.).Google Scholar
- Stang, B., Bjorne, H. C., et al. (2006). The book of games (Vol. 1). Ottawa: GameXplore.Google Scholar
- Swan, R. (1990). The complete guide to role-playing games. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
- Various. (2010). The Mousetrap. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mousetrap. Accessed 1 Oct 2010.
- Zagal, J. P. (2010). Ludoliteracy: Defining, understanding, and supporting games education. Pittsburgh: ETC Press.Google Scholar
- Zagal, J. P., & Bruckman, A. (2009). Novices, gamers, and scholars: Exploring the challenges of teaching about games. Games Studies: The International Journal for Computer Games Research, 8(2). http://gamestudies.org/0802/articles/zagal_bruckman. Accessed 15 Mar 2011.
- Civilization III. (2001). Firaxis (Dev.); Infogrames (Pub.).Google Scholar
- Fallout. (1997). Black Isle Studios (Dev.); Interplay Entertainment (Pub.).Google Scholar
- Fallout 2. (1998). Black Isle Studios (Dev.); Interplay Entertainment (Pub.).Google Scholar
- Lineage. (1998). NCJSoft (Dev./Pub.).Google Scholar
- Shadow of the Colossus. (2005). Team Ico (Dev.); Sony Computer Entertainment (Pub.).Google Scholar
- Ultima IV. (1985). Origin Systems (Dev./Pub.).Google Scholar