Saturday, April 11, 2009

Game Hunt: HABITAT by Shih Lin and Maria Angeles Dano

In our Game Hunt, our topic is all about HABITAT. The three critical things that we considered are climate, conservation, and preservation. Habitat is the place where we live. Thus, we need to conserve and preserve not only ours but also the animals. They are part of the ecosystem.

The two principles that could be applied in the games that we found are Discovery and Situated Meaning. With these principles, the learners are allowed to discover the habitat of the animals that they have not seen yet and understand the context and meaning of where they live.

The names that we captured in the games are from and The first game is all about the habitat on the right place and climate to stay for a particular animal. The other one is all about simulations on Ants Pheromone Trails, Water Motion, Earth's Biomes, Topographic Map, and more!

Final Game Play: RCT 3 - My one of a kind video game experience...

My game play of Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 gives me the idea that playing video games is fun! I did not only enjoy but also learned from this experience. It allowed me to make my own amusement park. It allowed me to become a manager. It allowed me to experience challenges that I need to face and resolve. This makes RCT 3 an all-time favorite game not only to business fanatics but also to everyone. Indeed, games and simulations allow one to explore, learn, and enjoy!

This experience challenged me to integrate video games in classroom teaching. Since English is the universal medium in these games, it will allow my students to learn new vocabulary and expressions. It will allow them to understand the context and meaning of the words. In reading the instructions, I believe that it uses formal English. With this, it could also help them in their sentence construction. What interest me most is the use of prepositions. We only have two prepositions in our native language. This is the most challenging one among the parts of speech.

The strengths of my game are its easy to learn instructions, colorful graphics, featured rides, and language used. As a first timer, I did not experience major difficulties. The colorful graphics especially with the rides gave me an idea on how these rides look like. Honestly, I have not seen most of these rides in real life when I started playing the game, but I was happy when I went to Navy Pier, Disney World, and Universal Studios. I was able to see and identify the rides which I put in my amusement park. Thanks to RCT 3!

I believe that the game could be more improved if the game allows multiple players. With this, it is like a group of people who will act as a manager, an architect, engineer, and the like. This would help in giving inputs and promote cooperative learning. The more the merrier! Another element is its features. In my game, I was not allowed to buy a piece of land. I want to have more rides and expand my amusement park. It somehow limits my world. I want to have more rides so that my guests can experience more.

As this semester is about to end, I am thankful to experience video games. Thank you for giving me this chance to play a variety of games and simulations. It is cool!

Gee's Chapter 6 & 8: Cultural Perspectives

Culture is important in the society. It is what defines patterns or behaviors among each group. We act according to what is expected from us. There are also times that we challenged the norms and moral standards of the society. In Gee's perspective, he defines cultural models as images, story lines, principles, or metaphors that capture what a particular group finds "normal" or "typical" in regard to a given phenomenon. In his example on what is "normal" or "typical", I am intrigued with these statements, "Normal teenagers rebel against their parents and other authority figures," and "Normal children respect their parents," made me reflect on the definition between "normal" or "typical". It is true that these theories are usually unconscious and taken for granted. I am one of them. Once a teenager rebels to authorities, it is "typical" to them. However, they are expected to be respectful and obedient. Most of the time, people accept what is "typical" instead of what is "normal". This is where conflict comes in because we know what is right or wrong.

On the other hand, playing video games has a different perspective in terms of defining what is "good" or "bad". Gee mentioned that people in real life and games playing as virtual characters differ. In playing video games, it is the final goal that is important. It is just like the soap operas that we watch on the television. This reminds me of an incident in my country. An old woman was so devoted in watching this soap opera and hated the antagonist so much. When she saw her in one of the malls, the old woman approached her and spanked her in public. She was so mad! Just like in video games, we have stereotypes that once a child plays first-shooter games or Counterstrike he/she is violent. Now that I have played some of these games personally, this is the challenge - educating the parents on their child's interest of playing video games.

Jim Gee's book educates people who hate video games. His perspective on how video games can be used in the classroom opened new opportunities for students to learn more and better.

Gee's occasional critique of traditional education makes me reflect on my teaching practices. He mentioned that allowing students to master a set of facts and memorizing information from teachers and books are not bad at all. However, learning does not only stop here. He is advocating to involve active and critical learning in classroom teaching. Students should also learn and understand the why and how questions and not only the what. This challenges me to give students the opportunity to be actively involved in their language learning. Allowing them to play video games and immerse themselves in learning the language through following instructions as well as communicate with the other players would widen their experience.

The two principles that I would like to highlight in Gee's work are Discovery Principle and Situated Meaning Principle. Discovery Principle allows my students to explore new things. It is allowing ample opportunity for the learners to experiment and make discoveries. Also, Situated Meaning Principle allows the learners to know the meanings of signs like words, actions, objects, and the like for an embodied experience. They do not only see it but also experience, at least virtually. Playing video games allow these learning principles to be experienced by the students. I experience it myself. Thank you Gee for this life-changing experience!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

MMORPG Reflection: A New Experience...

MMORPGs are fundamentally different from other games and simulations because it is represented by large, sophisticated, detailed, and evolving worlds based in different narrative environments. It is also a fully developed multiplayer universe with an advanced and detailed world (p. 53). Examples of these games are EverQuest and World of Warcraft. Gee also mentioned these two popular games in his chapter. In EverQuest and World of Warcraft, players log on to special Internet sites and they play simultaneously with thousands of players all over the world. Unlike games and simulations, the MMORPG experience could not be the same at all because one cannot repeat the game anymore since one could be playing with different players every time one is log on to these worlds. This is also played with affinity groups that are not necessarily present in games and simulations.

These games are similar to virtual worlds like Second Life. One is identified through his/her own avatar. The players can also chat by simply typing in the chat box. They can even talk using their headsets. Like MMORPGs, you could also meet different people across the globe. On the other hand, one of the differences between the two is that Second Life is not a game at all, although there are some features that allow people to have simulations. I came across in the Internet about sims in Second Life like Ancient History Ramblings. It says that it does an excellent job of demonstrating the ins and outs of archaeology. I also believe that SL is mainly used for educational institutions for giving lectures. It is like an online instruction.

A learning problem in my environment that might be addressed by a MMOG is knowing how non-native English speakers communicate in this game. As an English teacher, I feel guilty because there are times that I focused on the content. The main goal of learning a language is to communicate. Thus, it is important for the students to have a chance to practice the language. I believe that the most important goal is for them to express themselves using the target language at the same time be understood by the other. Since some of the students are already fanatic with video games and English as the universal language, asking them of their experiences how they communicate with other players would be interesting. I am sure they will learn more idiomatic and other expressions that they have not encountered. Just like me, my immersion to the native speakers here in the United States helped me to understand better in using the right words and expressions both in formal and informal communication. It is really a great help to go beyond the borders.

Game Play 7: Almost there...

My game play experience this week is full of ups and downs. Last week, I was overwhelmed with the experience that I was in the tycoon stage. With this, my visitors got decreased. Some of my staff were not happy anymore. In my latest experience, I got more challenges! Some rides needed to be fixed simultaneously. Then, it was recommended to have constant check up with my rides. I wanted to add more features, but it did not allow me because I do not have enough space. However, I slowly recover with the number of visitors in my amusement park. I am hoping that next week I will be able to conquer the tycoon.

This game play experience helped me realize not to jump right away in making decisions. Because of that overwhelming experience that I finally knew the basic features of the game, I just put the rides, stalls, and facilities anywhere I wanted to. I should have made a floor plan. Sometimes, I have this attitude that because it is new I will use it right away before carefully studying it. It is always best to experience it myself first before I will implement it.

Gee's Chapter 7: A Network of Fun and Learning

Video games are powerful tools of having a network of gamers who enjoy, learn and share each others' common goals and experiences. Whether it is violent or not, these gamers look for their respective identities and take a number of hours in order to alleviate their status and be recognized in the affinity groups. It is amazing to know that people all over the world can have communities of players that can communicate through chatting by typing and talking through their headsets. As long as you have the right gadgets, you are ready to go. I also knew that some of these games are really expensive. However, they do not mind at all because in playing they feel ownership of their respective identities. Moreover, they can also express themselves. They can explore, make, and recreate. They feel that they belong. It is also interesting to know on how players are so affected to the game like the story of a 15-year old boy who's name is Adrian. When he died in the game EverQuest, he kept murmuring, "I'm going to die," as if he is going to die for real. He really tried hard to be resurrected by communicating to his playmates.

I also agree with Gee's point about the social mind - if the human mind is a powerful pattern recognizer-and the evidence very much suggests it is-then what is most important about thinking is not that it is "mental," something happening inside our heads, but rather that it is social, something attuned to and normed by the social groups to which we belong or seek to belong. As human beings, we do everything that we can in order to be accepted, appreciated, and recognized in the group just like the affinity groups in video games. If we affiliate ourselves in a group like a network of teachers, we are trying our best to be updated and even go back to school for graduate studies. We do not want to stop learning. If we join professional networks, we also learn more from each others' experiences. This makes networking a powerful source of knowledge.

With my RCT 3 experience, the principle that is reflected in my game is Insider Principle - the learner is an "insider," "teacher," and "producer" (not just a "consumer") able to customize the learning experience and domain/game from the beginning and throughout the experience. RCT 3 allows me explore and create my own amusement park. With this, it gives me freedom where I can put my rides, stalls, and facilities. As I achieved the tycoon stage, it gives me a sense of fulfillment that I made it!

Dispersed Principle and Affinity Group Principle

I would like to use one of the groups that I joined in Facebook - Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA). I knew about this when we had our workshop in Washington, D.C. last December 2008. Out of 420 participants, it was difficult to reach them all. With this, the FLTA network in Facebook allows us to share each others' experiences. Even if this is a diverse group, it never hinder us to share each others' interest. This network also allows us to share some strategies on how to teach our languages to non-native speakers. I learn a lot from them. With the use of this technology, the world is not far beyond me.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gee's Chapter 5: Lara Croft's Experience

The first thing that I recalled when I read this chapter is the movie Tomb Raider. Angelina Jolie is one of my favorite actors in the film industry. I love her adventures in Cambodia and Africa. She is so cool! As a game, I like the idea of learning at the same with Lara Croft. For a beginner like me, I am guided on what to do especially with the keys but at the same time given the chance to think and decide for my own self as a player. I hope to play this game sometime in the future.

In this chapter it says, "Learners cannot do much with lots of overt information that a teacher has explicitly told them outside the context of immersion in actual practice. At the same time , learners cannot learn without some overt information; they cannot discover everything for themselves," (page 120). I totally agree with this statement. When I was in grade school, my Science teacher introduced to us the parts of microscope. However, we only saw the picture and just memorize its parts. We have not touched nor used it. We do not have any tangible experience at all. What is the use of just memorizing it? On the other hand, I eventually understand why because of the school's limited budget. However, learning does not only occur through rote memorization. It needs something to see, touch, smell, taste, and hear in order to fully grasp the whole experience.

The principle that is reflected in my RCT 3 game is Explicit Information On-Demand and Just-in-Time Principle. As a player, I am given explicit information on the goals of the game like achieving 700 guests. Also, I am informed that people are already hungry. With these scenarios, I need to make some advertisements and promotion to a national newspaper and add more burger, chicken, ice cream, and drinks stalls in order to satisfy my guests. I like this game because I am guided on what to do on what is on-demand and the things needed at a given time. As a novice, I am not lost at all.

Discovery Principle

Playing a video game - Everything is a discovery! Before I should make my own judgments about video games, I should play it first! This is what I realized in this course. First, it started with just pressing the buttons while exploring my amusement park. Eventually, I added some rides. Then, the challenging tasks came in - fixing broken facilities, taking care of the garbage, etc. It allows me to experiment what if I increase the prices of the rides and foods, add rides (then it is beyond my budget :-)), and more! In this game, I was not afraid to commit mistakes.

Transfer Learning

In the non-digital experience, I would like to consider my experience as a student leader when I was in college. I was the Vice-President of the College of Education Student Council. At the beginning of the school year, we were given seminar-workshops to prepare us with our respective tasks. Yes, there were simulations on what we are going to do with the given scenarios. These simulations helped me in making decisions when I started in the office. Indeed, our resource speakers were successful in sharing their knowledge and expertise to us. Thus, experiencing it myself somehow tested my decision-making skills. The principle of Transfer of Learning is crucial in molding future teachers, doctors, nurses, and the like for the strength of one's country. One should not only keep it to himself or herself but pass it on to the next generation.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Game Play 6: This is tough!

As I became more intense with my RCT 3, I am faced with more challenges in my game play this week. I was so glad that I finally reached the Tycoon stage. I was so happy of what I created - my amusement park. On the other hand, I got a tough experience with my business. My visitors are getting less. I could not buy a piece of land that my rides are very closed to each other. It's like so congested. I am quite worried. On the brighter side, majority of my staff are happy with their respective jobs. I believe I should find out other good strategies to win the hearts of my customers again. After the game play next week, I would also like to try other games in RCT 3 that Matt, my playmate, had introduced me.

Indeed, a challenge just like this week's reading on Aldrich. Evaluation is an important tool that one has to consider in classroom learning and even in business. As he mentioned, it is hard to evaluate simulation-based content because one cannot just simply skim simulation. Unlike books and magazines, one could just simply skim or read them quickly. In order to evaluate this technology, it needs experience through this virtual world. Just like in business too in my RCT 3, I need to evaluate on my customer's satisfaction, why are they getting lesser. This is the challenge that I need to conquer next week.

Aldrich: Face The Challenge

In providing games and simulations, we are faced with the challenges that we need to ponder upon. As Aldrich mentioned, some of these things are to see the content, evaluate, and consider the price or cost of the game and/or simulation.

Identifying Appropriate Subject-Matter Experts and Designers

As an educator, it is important to consider the content of the game and simulation before it is used in the classroom learning. However, there are times that the content does not totally fit with the kind of learners we have. Thus, we are faced on how to identify appropriate subject-matter experts and designers. For instance, the use of words in the games and simulations are of different context with the situation in my home country. Usually, we do not give directions by saying north of this street, proceed south, so on and so forth. This is what I experienced in Darfur is Dying and The Hobbit. To address this issue, I will present not only the words but accompany it with visuals so that students would understand the meaning and how or when it is used. Before we proceed, an example of a map with east, west, north, and south directions will be given to the class.


As Aldrich said, it is hard to evaluate simulation-based content because one cannot just simply skim simulation. It requires time. In my case, I had my own reservations of playing video games. However, after reading Gee's book and some articles and experiencing it myself, I realized that video games can stimulate learning because I am actively engaged with this technology. As a teacher, I should experience and evaluate it first before I will introduce it to my students.


One of the things that I also find very challenging in my institution is purchasing this technology with considerable price. With the limited budget and resources, one has to be creative and resourceful. With this, I will maximize online free games and simulations available in the web. I am also hoping to make a PowerPoint game in my final project as an alternative but at the same time a technology that is very much useful to teachers and students.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Final Project Proposals

Proposal # 1: PowerPoint Games

PowerPoint is often used as a visual aid in my country particularly in my school. I never knew that there are PowerPoint games. With this, I would like to maximize the use of this technology in language learning or other applicable areas that I could also recommend to my colleagues. I came across with the homemade PPT (PowerPoint) games of Lloyd Rieber at University of Georgia that my professor recommended to me. I also saw the names of Gretchen Thomas and Michael Barbour. My target audience are high school students (ages 12-16). I believe that in providing them with these games it can gauge their interests and enhance their classroom learning.

With the homemade PPT games that he/they created, I can freely download, adapt or modify them according to the needs of my students. I am still on the process of looking for a perfect PPT game for language learning. If there is a chance for me to modify it, I will gladly make it. So that when I get home, I can bring this new experience, share it to my colleagues, and help the high school community with its aim to an Instructional Technology university.

Proposal # 2: Bizzy´s Spelling Bee

I consider this game because of the texting phenomenon in my country. We are not fond of calling through our cell phones because it is expensive (unless it is an emergency). Texting only costs more or less 5 cents (PHP 1.00). Usually, people are saving the number of characters since there are only allowed around 160 per text. Instead of completing the English spelling, they will have shortcuts. For instance, the message is "See you," they will write it in "C u". I observe this in their write-ups. I would like to address the issue that it is okay to save but they should also learn when to use it appropriately. In taking tests and essays, they do not need to save space.

For my proposal numbers 2 and 3, this is the website

Proposal # 3: PictoWords

PictoWords is one of the educational games featured in It is a game that tests your vocabulary by quickly combining pictures and letters to create words. It says that "Each level offers fun pictures which you must blend with letters to fill out the word list." It sounds challenging especially for non-native speakers.

I would like my students to increase their vocabulary through word associations. Words are used according to their context. For instance, "bank" could mean a place where people could deposit their money. It could also mean a river bank. Another example is "well" which has a number of possible meanings -

The well is dry.
The actors performed well in Wicked.
Well, the taste is awful.
Get well soon.

I got some sample ideas on how to use "well" in this website

I can make lesson plans that integrate both the spelling bee and picture words to enhance their spelling and vocabulary.

Game Play 5: A tycoon to conquer!

Tycoon is constantly giving me a bunch of challenges. It requires more guests and impressive performance of an amusement park. For this week, I would like to acquire more lot; however, I was not given a chance. I consulted Matt, and he was also wondering why I could not do so. Instead, I looked for some strategic places to transfer my Circus tent so that my new roller coaster could fit in.

Then, I added my new roller coaster and more food stalls around my amusement park.

RCT 3 allows me to capture the four-step process: probe-hypothesis-reprobe-rethink cycle. In this virtual world, I surveyed (probe) at first my amusement park. Then I started clicking some icons - rides, benches, food stalls, staff, etc. Then, I put my shoes as a visitor - What do I want to see in an amusement park? (hypothesis). With this, I added some features that I saw in the icons. Afterward, I looked at my amusement park once again (reprobe). Finally, I listened to the feedback of my customers and staff, then, evaluated my performance. I realized that there are things that I need to fix, to improve, and to consider with the available resources that I only have. I even feel like "God" when He created the world in six days. Probably, He also did the same, the probe-hypothesis-reprobe-rethink cycle. That is probably why it took Him six days because he added more features from time to time until we came. The feedback - people are constantly whining just like some of my customers and staff. What a challenge! This reminds me of Bruce Almighty. It is tough to be a business person (like in RCT 3) but how much more in His place.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gee's Chapter 4: Situated Meaning and Learning - An Eye Opener

Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 exemplifies an active learning environment. It says that "...comprehension is grounded in perceptual simulations that prepare agents for situated action." With this game, students are experiencing virtual simulation that prepare them to real world. They are "doing things actively because they have choices on where to go and what to do." Thus, they are not passive learners in this simulated game.

"Appreciative systems" is also present in RCT 3. It is mentioned that "children can determine what they 'like,' what is a 'good' result, only in terms of an appreciative system, that is, their set of goals, desires, feelings, and values in respect to the domain being engaged with." Indeed true! One could never achieved or realized one's goals, desires, feelings, and values unless one is engaged to a given scenario or situation. Also, it says that "the appreciative system is not only the place where the affective and cognitive merge and come together, it is the place where the social, cultural, and personal merge and come together as well." In reality whether what profession we have, we deal with people and our social, cultural and personal aspects are challenged. Sometimes we are appreciated and sometimes we are not. However, both can help us to be aware of our strengths and weaknesses. For instance, in RCT 3 I am challenged not only to satisfy my customers but also my staff. Both give appreciations and also suggestions. One could never realized "good" until one can conquer the challenges.

A learning experience in a traditional environment I have had that would have been much improved if it had been better situated was my Technology and Home Economics (THE) basic business management course in high school. Instead of having a lot of lectures on how to deal with customers and colleagues, it would have been better if students were actively engaged with games and simulations. In this way, students would have a tangible experience on how to deal with customers' satisfaction. For instance, taking a survey on the school's cafeteria services is a good idea. It is a pragmatic way in knowing how people think about their services and at the same time help the management for some areas of improvement. I have seen this in my RCT 3 video game. From time to time, these statements pop up - "People are hungry. You need to add food stalls," "People need toilet," "Security guard - bored, bored, bored...". These call for action and choices to make. Taking surveys or playing the video game gives me an idea on how to run the business. It also gauges active learning by engaging students to decision making and management skills. Most importantly, they feel it because they experience it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Game Play 4: Finally, Tycoon!

After extending my time of playing my RCT 3, I finally passed the Entrepreneur level. Awesome! Here are some features that I also added.

My game RCT 3 is a rewarding experience for me. At first, I found it so difficult especially in familiarizing the right icons in adding rides, stalls, facilities, etc. Also, I have to do multi-tasking in checking the finances, adding staff, making advertisements, and all. It was really challenging! However, after playing every week, there is this feeling of intense - just do it! Eventually, it drives me to do more and to take care of my amusement park. "Flow" is very much present to this game. Playing video games are not bad at all (as I perceived it before). As a first timer "addict", I am proud of what I achieved and created. This is something new. I am not a businessman; however, I am able to run my own through RCT 3.

This holds true with my student selected selection Video Games, Mind and Learning by James Paul Gee. We imagine and this technology externalizes what is perceived in our minds. In the article it mentions that "Video games usually involve a visual and auditory world in which the player manipulates a virtual character. The player can make a new landscape, a new set of buildings, or new characters." This is indeed true in RTC 3. This technology offers the opportunity to make, create and realize one's goals and desires. One might be frustrated, but there are always challenges in achieving such goals (just like in real life). This is where the spice comes in... how to face them!

Student Selection: "Video Games, Mind, and Learning" by JP Gee

Gee, James Paul. "Video Games, Mind, and Learning" The Interactive Digital Media & Arts Association Journal, 2005 -, 1-12. (

This article mentioned that, "More recently, some cognitive scientists, inspired by distributed parallel-processing computers and complex adaptive networks, have argued that the mind works by storing records of actual experiences and constructing intricate patterns of connections among them," (Clark 1989; Gee 1992). Thus, this new technology enhances people's memory, and establishes connection to real-life experiences. This also allows to externalize some functions of the mind through the use of video games as a new tool for learning.

As of this moment, I am a novice of this technology. From time to time, I learn more and more, but also I evaluate what web 2.0 and other instructional technology tools that I could use in my home country. I am interested to use these tools because the attention span of the students is just so short. The challenge is on how to sustain it. This article argues that "video games usually involve a visual and auditory world in which the player manipulates a virtual character/s." I would say that it also influences the learning environment. Maximizing the use of this technology attracts colors, increases vocabulary, and gauges students' interest.

Sharing an experience (like storytelling) using the target language is one of the skills that students are challenged to learn. In using video games, I could ask students about the protagonist/s and antagonist/s, the setting, the plot (conflict, climax, etc.) and theme (purpose or moral of the game). However, there is a twist. I also came across with this article of William Vitka's "Once Upon A Time Will Video Games Ever Have Their 'Moby Dick' or 'Citizen Kane'?" which he wrote on March 24, 2006. He said, "For all their advantages, video games don't allow for stories to be told in the traditional manner. The player is, by definition, not the same as the reader of a story. The player is the catalyst for the events in the game. He is not passive." If students will make their own characters like Arcanum as cited by Gee in the textbook, they are making their own story where students are not passive. They are not only reading but also involve themselves in the story reflected by the characters and events they made in their game. For me, this is a good idea of making students engaged to the experience. It would be interesting to know how they make their own characters, setting, plot and theme. This will be a good challenge for me and the students.

Flow: An Optimal Experience

When I read the article, it reminded me of my college professor who talked about the hierarchy of needs by Abraham Maslow. She said that each of us will never be satisfied unless we achieved "self-actualization". That is why we always have inner drives to do something to reach our goals. On the other hand, this is not a guarantee that the person felt "intrinsically rewarding" as mentioned by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Some games have the presence of optimal experience - the "flow". The features of some games that lend them to inducing flow is the experience itself. Games serve as the "opportunity for action that humans are able to respond to." This statement of Csikszentmihalyi drives players to pay attention. Let us take for instance video games. There are rules that they need to follow. There are tasks that they need to respond. They are levels that they need to accomplish from time to time until they conquer all the tasks. This is where addiction (addiction to game) comes in. The levels of the game "drives the self to higher and higher levels of complexity." Towards the end, there is a feeling of ownership that leads to "a feeling of transcendence, or oneness with the activity" (Csikszentmihalyi).

I love to play chess. This is the game where I consider experiencing "flow". When I started, I was confused. Each character has its own distinct moves that I need to master. When I mastered them, I need to learn some wise moves in order to outwit the opponent. It takes time to think and to make a game plan. Even I was frustrated, I never gave up. I kept on playing and playing until I learned. I was addicted to it until I felt being one with the game. It is like putting one's mind, heart and soul into it. Some people say it's boring, but I eventually fall in love in playing chess. It is like in the educational setting. There is always this challenge of making students be intrinsically motivated (be addicted) to learning by saying, "I am here because I want to learn," (in a way that students will not be reminded from time to time of their homework or project because they feel that they are responsible of their own progress). On the other hand, it is also important to explain to the students the purpose of attaining education to have a clear vision why they are doing this. This will hopefully help them to set their own goals.

I would say that flow is not antithetical to traditional learning. This is just to heighten their motivation that learning is not only for the grades. The most important thing is they gained something from the content of the course. Grades are good to impress employers, but the skills are also necessary. For instance, an architect needs to design a building. He has impressive records, but he does not know how to deal with his colleagues. He could never achieved his goal without the help of others (carpenters, suppliers, etc.). Thus, "flow" is a way of learning not only with the technicalities but also for skills - motivating oneself to consider all aspects that leads to happiness and satisfaction.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Game Play 3: Picture 3

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Game Play 3: Picture 2

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Game Play 3: Picture 1

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Game Play 3: My Entrepreneurship Career

After the Apprentice, my new challenge now is the Entrepreneurship level. I was already successful in attracting 500 visitors, but I still need to work on with my park value. I am pressured on how to achieve this. I already added some rides and stalls. In fact, I increased the ride fees to earn more, but still there's so much work to be done. I think I need to spend more time than two hours. On the other hand, I also read some guidelines on how to post my game pictures in my blog. I could never find the icon on posting pictures (which is usually under the title box). I downloaded Picasa 3; then, click "BlogThis!". Finally, I made it! However, please see "Game Play 3: Game Pictures" because I do not know how to insert them in this particular blog account.

Gee's identity concepts are also realized in my game RCT 3. The amusement park businessman (virtual character), me (real-person - "me" as businessman), and projective identity (me "as" businessman). There is a sense of ownership. I discovered new ways and values - that in the game, one has to consider even little things. For instance, I only focused on having more rides. I forgot that toilets, information booth, A.T.M. machines, garbage cans, and food stalls are very important elements. These are like basic necessities. In life, I should learn on how to pay attention to little things. In my experience, I usually forget my slippers. I should always include this in my checklist.

Malone and Lepper's intrinsic motivational learning elements are also present in this game. The challenge is to attract 500 visitors and achieve the minimum park value. I am also curious on how people run this kind of business (especially me who is not good in numbers and budgeting). I am also in control of the game. However, I should also be consistent of the objectives of the game. With this fantasy experience, I experienced as if I were really the owner of this amusement park. With this kind of game, learners could have some idea on how to run a business.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Malone & Lepper: Intrinsic motivation leads to sustainable learning

Malone and Lepper's point is to make learning intrinsically motivated. Using good video games can arouse and sustain students' interest through challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy.

A game that I have played that exhibits these four individual intrinsic motivational elements is Nintendo Wii. My supervisor took me to her house. They have Nintendo Wii on playing tennis, bowling, baseball, etc. Her children taught me how to play tennis using this technology. I have not played tennis for real. I do not have any idea at all. However, I was challenged by her daughter. I was also curious on how to play the game. When I tried, I was sweating! My virtual opponent was good! I needed to put effort, force, and timing in order to bounce the ball properly. It was like having in control of the ball. Obviously, the first game was a disaster. As I kept on playing, I improved! Even it was just a fantasy, I felt great! When I went to the dorm, I watched the movie Wimbledon through At this moment, I cannot stop thinking of trying it in real life. Unfortunately, it is still snowing here. I will try it when I get home to my country.

A traditional learning experience that also reflects these elements is being part of the CAT (Citizen's Army Training) when I was in high school. Military training was a requirement of the Philippines' educational system. This time, it is already optional since there are other options like Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) and Literacy Training Service (LTS) which are community service programs. During the officers' training, I was challenged to live like a soldier. I lived according to their rules. I was also curious if I could stand the hard training. I was assigned and in control of my platoon. It was hard! Mistake of one is mistake of all. Even it was just like a fantasy, I survived, and I felt that I was a soldier.

Gee's Chapter 3: Tripartite Identity Model

Gee's tripartite identity model made me reflect of my profession as a teacher. There are times that I am already out of patience with my students. I forget that they are not me. They have limitations that I have to accept. The challenge is how to compromise or interact with them. It's like bridging the gap between two worlds like Gee and "Bead Bead" that there are times in our lives that we need to live with some limitations.

This reminds me of a mini-Broadway contest during the English month three years ago. Using the tripartite identity model, let's say that the students are the virtual character and me as the real-person. I suggested to the class some ideas, concepts, and choreography on how I wanted the class to present their piece. During the rehearsals, I kept on insisting to have live singers for Miss Saigon. This would be a plus factor; I wanted them to win. I pushed them too hard. However, the reality was that not everyone could sing. I have to live with their limitations that the class were not the actors that I wanted them to be. At the end, we decided to do lip sing. Then, we doubled our effort in the acting part as if it were a live singing. It was not that bad, though. The experience was like I would like to create a masterpiece that was beyond my reach. My former students (which served as my virtual characters of my desire as a good director) and me (the real-person) have come up to this point of projective identity that even there were limitations, there still something that could be done. It's like playing a game. I was struck with that answer of one of my classmates in playing Crazy Machines that there are many solutions in a problem. If one is into, eventually, one will discover new ways and values in dealing with everyday life.

Practice Principle - In studying English as second language, they could practice their vocabulary using these games that I just discovered: Taboo, Catch Phrase and Mad Gab Game. At home, they could play Text Twist, Kangaroo, Bookworm and the like. Not to forget, the classic game Scrabble that they could play with their family and friends.

Amplification of Input Principle - In learning English songs, students can enhance their listening, pronunciation/speaking, reading and writing skills. "Darfur is Dying" is also a very example on this principle. One does not only play but can also look at the hard realities that some of the countries are experiencing today.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Student Reflection: "Why Are Video Games Good For Learning?" by JP Gee

Gee, James Paul. "Why Are Video Games Good For Learning?" Good Video Games and Good Learning. April 2007, 1-25. (

James Paul Gee highlighted six points that indeed made video games good for learning:

1. "They can create an embodied empathy for a complex system" - He emphasized that good video games have underlying learning principles that educators should consider as well. For instance, "Civilization III" allows the player to experience a complex system and learn basic principles of history and social sciences.

2. "They are action-and-goal-directed preparations for, and simulations of, embodied experience" - In "Civilization III", the player externalize their understanding of ancient history and civilization to the present by building, manipulating this virtual world in a fun and challenging way. The goal is in the mind, and the simulation leads them to action. This video game embodies the whole experience.

3. "They involve distributed intelligence via the creation of smart tools" - Another example is "Full Spectrum Warrior" where the player acts as a professional soldier. The virtual characters (smart tools) made one internalize not only the knowledge but also "shape and explain how and why knowledge is developed and applied in the world."

4. "They create opportunities for cross-functional affiliation" - In playing some video games like "World of WarCraft", players across the globe have affiliations.In this case, social differences do not matter. In fact, it developed learning communities.

5. "They allow meaning to be situated" - With this experience, "they allow language to be put into the context of dialogue, experience, images, and actions."

6. "They can be open-ended, allowing for goals and projects that meld the personal and the social" - In playing these games, players have a sense of ownership. They "made their own goals based on their own desires, styles and backgrounds."

Knowing why video games are good for learning is important to me. Honestly, I am overwhelmed with my readings of Gee and Squire. However, it helped me to realize that games are not bad at all. As a language teacher, the fifth point of Gee is true. There are students who know the meaning of the words but do not know on how or when to use them. Sometimes, I am guilty of this, too. When students see the words with pictures and actions in video games, I believe students will understand better the usage of words. In fact, in my case I watch movies with subtitles. With this effort, I knew what is whirring, wince, squeak, squeal, and fidget because it accompanies with the action. Also, in the game "Darfur is Dying", that's the only time I knew what is forage. Amazing!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Squire: The videogames as medium of learning

Squire's perspective is making video games as literacy by itself. Video games serve as "designed experiences", making them as medium of learning. For instance, "Supercharged!" was developed at MIT for students to learn basic concepts in electrostatics. Making it a medium, this video game "hoped to give an experience of what just physicists do." Therefore, he viewed video games as an important part of the curriculum. On the other hand, Gee's view is to make video games as tools of learning based on the learning principles that are present on video games. He viewed video games as a "research and development lab" for educational theory and practice.

If we are to actually use games and simulations to teach, the barriers in my professional environment are accessibility and affordability. In my school, there is limited access of computers. There are only 150 computers for more than 1500 students. Then, they mostly use it for their computer class. As a language teacher, it's difficult to use the lab because the schedule is already fully loaded. Moreover, there is still a great number of students who do not have PCs. Also, due to the limited budget, I usually buy my materials from my own pocket. That is why I enrolled to instructional technology subjects to find web tools that are available and accessible. I understand that there are plenty from the Internet, but I just don't know where to go. Now, I already knew photo story, more features about the PowerPoint and some helpful websites. In fact, I would like to use PowerPoint as my final project since it is most accessible to us.

I believe that "games and simulations for learning" is not simply a fad. Playing a game is already part of the culture. It is one aspect that a child should experience. In the past, there were no video games yet that are very much accessible unlike nowadays. Whether these games will be replaced with much more complexity, I believe that games and simulations can still be used for classroom learning.

The future of these technologies as a part of formal learning is possible. I believe that learning should be student-centered. Thus, there are teaching styles in the "old school" that are not applicable anymore to the present. Today, teachers are competing with the media like video games. It is difficult to only have chalk board or white board comparing to a colorful and interactive video game. The challenge is how to integrate these video games to classroom learning. Making video games as educational tools would best help making the experience more fun and enriching. For instance, the example of Squire on "Civilization III". Instead of making a 3D model project of "Borubudur" (Indonesia), "Taj Mahal" (India), "Hanging Garden" (Babylon), "Eiffel Tower" (Paris) and the like, why not ask students to make their own through this video game. Students can save and improve it based on what they read from the books than throwing the 3D model project after it has been graded. This is a significant input that I could share to my colleagues in the Social Studies department.

Second Gameplay: I made it through the apprentice level :-) Yehey!

For this week, I finally passed the apprentice level! I was so happy! After four hours of labor and hardship, I made it through. I was able to attract 400 people and beautify my amusement park. Beforehand, I received two "Most Disappointing Park" awards. I was also worried because I did not gain any profit for months. At this time, I needed some help from Matt. He advised me to add rides to attract more visitors. Also, I should increase the price of the rides to earn some money. With this, I got the tidiest park and safest park awards, and passed the test!

With my two weeks of playing the video game, I start to like it. Indeed, there are things that I can learn from video games. It tests my creativity, managing, budgeting and aesthetic skills. Kurt Squire mentioned from his article "From Content to Context: Videogames as Designed Experience" that games are overlooked by educators. Just like me, I have my own biases that students do not study anymore and spend their allowance in the Internet Cafe (in my country, internet cafes are famous pastime because majority do not have access to computers). But now, just like James Paul Gee said why not use these games to make students get crazy too to academics (though for sure I will have a difficult time to convince the "old school" colleagues of this - this is a challenge!). Squirt also said that "Tycoon" (just like my video game) could be an effective learning tool. In fact, Matt and I agreed that this game is good for business people. It is learning by doing. It somehow prepares students to the real world that there are many things to consider to put up a business - management, human resource, maintenance, budgeting, design, and the like.

From my chosen article "Why Are Video Games Good for Learning?" by James Paul Gee, it reaffirms my query on why play video games. There are video games that are rooted through the learning principles which educators should consider, too. Roller Coaster Tycoon is an example of "action-and-goal-directed preparations for, and simulations of embodied experience." This game is just like in real life. If I were to put up a business, what things should I consider? Then I will start imagining. Through this game, I can have my blueprint on what should I do through manipulating the game. Thus, I should get myself ready for the next level!

Friday, February 6, 2009

First Gameplay: Help!

My first hour of the game - I was lucky that Matt was there to help. He gave me some basic tutorials on how to go about the game. He helped me in the downloading and led me to the buttons that I need to familiarize and master. When Matt was already out, I explored the game all by myself. I did not read the manual anymore because I was super excited! I read the tutorial and instructions though over and over again. I did the zooming many times by using pageup and pagedown keys. I felt like a child - so happy with every achievement I take even just pressing the buttons :-) . I was confused at some of the functions of the game interface. I want to put water in the pool but it did not work. I want to put more beautification in my amusement park but some features did not allow me to do so. I will just explore more next time.

The second hour - Just like what Matt mentioned in his blog, the beginning part in the career mode was pretty simple since all I need to do is beautify my place, hire workers, and attract people to take rides. At first, I did not understand the things (which were scenarios) indicated every time I play. I realized that these were tasks which I need to accomplish. I never knew that until 30 minutes. Then, as I kept on playing, I realized that there were a lot of things to be done. I was the manager, budget officer, HRD officer, etc. It is multiple-tasking! I ended up bankrupt. The figures made me dizzy. But at the end, I enjoyed playing the game. There is much to be done, discovered and explored to this game. I should be patient and creative too!

Gee mentioned about mastery. Gee argues that "the mastery a gamer gains in a given semiotic domain can prepare them for future learning and problem solving in the domain or even quite possibly related domains." This game is good for people who would like to manage their own business. This serves as a simulation game where one has to take a role. One is challenged to the real business world! It's like experiencing the real world through immersing oneself to the game.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gee, Chapters 1 & 2: Something I discovered about video games

At first, some terminologies are new to me - semiotic, multimodal, and metalevel. Also, the games mentioned like Pikmin, The Sims, and Frogger, are jargons. I only knew Tomb Raider from the movie of Angelina Jolie, Time Machine from Back to the Future and Winnie the Pooh from Disney. I like Gee's book though because he gives definitions that make my life easier. He also describes the games that I never encountered in my whole life. I believe that games and simulations are important tools for learning but video games......... As a person who is against playing video games (influenced from the complaints of my parents), I am now curious on how do really video games enhance learning. I am also guilty because I have not really tried this myself yet. This is probably why I am led to this course.

Gee stated that "Semiotic domains are human cultural and historical creations that are designed to engage and manipulate people in certain ways. They attempt through their content and social practices to recruit people to think, act, interact, value, and feel in certain specific ways." In my own understanding, semiotic domain shows how a group of people define things. For instance, as a language teacher, I discovered that Americans use different expressions than we have in the Philippines. For example, when answering a telephone Americans say hold on, for a moment, and for a sec, while Filipinos answer is for a while. I never realized that for a while is already a long time for the Americans. Another example is in the restaurants or fastfoods. Americans would say for here or to go while Filipinos would ask dine in or take out. When I came in the U.S. last August 2008, I was so cautious with my expressions. I was afraid that Americans might not understand what I am saying. This shows that register matters on how a group of people define their own language. Thus, as an ESL teacher I am challenged not to stick on the traditional ways of teaching the language but also to be updated with the new trends like integrating educational games and simulations in classroom learning.

"Content Fetish" - Honestly, I love memorizing. However, I am poor with analyzing. When I was in elementary, we memorized poems, vocabulary, parts of the microscope, and notes in playing a piano. However, I never used a microscope not until college. In my music class, I memorized the notes in playing a piano by having a drawing on a cardboard. I'm glad that schools nowadays in my country mostly have these facilities. That is probably why I am not good in logic. Now that I am teaching, I do not want my students to be like me. I want them to experience the real world and not only on rote memorization. As of this moment, I am struggling in terms of using the technology because our classrooms have limited facilities. In fact, I bring my laptop in my classroom to make it as LCD projector at the same time. Only one sentence per slide so that my 45 students can still see it at the back. On the other hand, with my subject on Teaching With Technology last Fall, I just realized that there are free software that I can even use in my country like making a Photo Story and web tools that are accessible for classroom teaching. These are all blessings because the school does not need a big amount of money for these tools.

Active, Critical Learning Principle - Instead of memorizing subject-verb agreement, students are to listen to native American speakers in You Tube, video or movie clips, and songs. They will explain how subject-verb agreement is important in communicating a clearer message to the receiver.

Design Principle -
I would like to consider Gee's questions from his book Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling- A Final Word: The Content Fetish, page 118 in designing a learning environment: "What experiences do I want the learners to have? What simulations do I want them to able to build in their heads? What do I want them to do? What information, tools, and technologies do they need? What games do I want these learners to be able to play?" I discovered that video games could be used as a pragmatic way of learning things if students will be guided accordingly like discussing in the classroom what they learn and reflect on the game. For instance, learning prepositions through giving directions. I have read this article entitled Video Games - What are they good for? by Kandie Demarest ( She said that one of the therapeutic benefits that her son has gotten from his use of video games following and giving directions (understanding prepositions, etc.) This would be a good idea!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gredler: Games and Simulations as tools to prepare students to the real world

Games and simulations are important tools in preparing students to the real world. Students will have the opportunity to test their knowledge, to experience the given task or scenarios, and to make their own decisions. Owning the experience and learning from it is crucial in shaping and molding them to the best that they can be.

Games serve as competitive exercises where the main goal is to win. In this manner, players are going to apply their acquired knowledge or skill. The player who has displayed exemplary performance that finishes first will be the winner. What I like with Gredler’s article as it presented the criteria of designing for educational games is that the players will not be penalized by losing points for a wrong answer. With this, the task is not discouraging. Instead, the players will be imaginative in maximizing all the possibilities in order to advance to the next level. It’s just like Crazy Machines, a video game that illustrates physics. Imagination paired with understanding of physics leads to success. This is really challenging!

On the other hand, simulation involves roles and places one’s own shoes to the situation or scenario. In this case, students are to take roles, to address certain issues and problems and to experience the effects of every step or decision they make. This is like a trial-and-error stage. I remember our counseling course on a simulation between the counselor and counselee. The scenario was that the high school student got pregnant. She could not abort the baby; the parents would kill her; she was not ready to become a mother; etc.! It was tough since she was bombarded with these concerns. At her young age, parents would be angry, but they would eventually accept the situation. It would also be good if a trusted friend would help in telling the parents. In this situation, the counselor is helping the student to arrive to her own decision on what’s the best for her. This helps students to be responsible to their own actions.

The distinction matters in order to identify appropriate tasks and to meet the needs of students. For instance, a medical student needs a simulation on how to perform a surgery. With this, one needs ample time to perform this task and not to compete with one’s classmates on who will finish first becomes the winner. There is a possibility that one could commit errors along the process. This is a significant learning experience.

My newly found career - playing Roller Coaster Tycoon

Matt Kennedy is my partner in my journey to play a video game in this semester. I am a neophyte in this newly found career, playing video games every week. I hope and pray that my partner will have patience in teaching me how to go about these things. I would consider this as a very challenging task. Honestly, I am not into this kind of pastime. However, this would also help me to understand the world my students. They love these games so much! When I come back, I will surely sound so strange to them. They were even surprised that I have an account in Facebook. Students perceive teachers only for lesson planning, reading books, researching and making paper, and “geek” stuffs. They just don’t have any idea at all :-) On the other hand, it’s also good to explore and experience their own world.

The game that we consider is Roller Coaster Tycoon. Personally, I am afraid of heights :-) Playing this game might help in conquering my fear as well. Also, this is good for managerial skills. As a manager, one should consider some strategies on attracting people and in being resourceful to available resources in order to earn profit in business. Just like a teacher, classroom management is important in learning. One is challenged on how to make the classroom conducive for learning. Learning should be fun and exciting! Thus, management skills are crucial to attain academic success. At this moment, I just want to familiarize myself on clicking the right button in making and beautifying my amusement park, …….. and to enjoy this new experience.

Game History: A glimpse of the past

When I read the article, I remember the games that I usually played before – Pacman and Super Mario Brothers. I never took time to know its origin not until I read this chapter on history of video games. I never knew about these SEGA, Atari, Namco, Donkey Kong, Zaxxon, Galaxian, etc. However, I heard about Game Boy and Playstation. It is also possible that some of these games reached my country but have not known. I can also remember that I got crazy with Brick Game. I never expected to discover this much. I’m sure there is still more!

At first, video games served as training ground for the military and as a source of entertainment for students, faculty, researchers, academic and government institutions as a relief from traditional duties. Eventually, this came not only to a few but to the public as well. Thanks to the Internet – World Wide Web!

Arcade phenomenon – people got crazy. Even today, most of the parents' concern in my school is that their sons go to Internet cafĂ© instead of going to class. They spend their allowance on playing computer or video games instead of their school project. I believe that researchers and educators reflected if these students could be addicted to academics, too. Students need something to see, hear, touch, and manipulate. Hence, this led to make games and simulations as tools for learning. With this, it is very important that companies should critically design their own product. For educational purposes, it would be a great help if they consult researchers, teachers, administrators, and other experts in order to meet the instructional needs.

Nowadays, games cannot only be experienced at home and arcades. It becomes handy like the portable Sony’s PSP. In 10 years time, I can imagine a virtual environment 3-D game, just like what I see in futuristic movies like Matrix. The direction of games for learning is more complex and innovative. I hope to reach that age.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Hobbit

The game was all about directions. One has to be keen in paying attention to the instructions in order not to be lost in the game. Even if I didn't fully grasp the whole game, it gives me an idea that it is like the movie Lord of the Rings. The hobbit struggled along the way. This is useful for high school students in testing their patience and perseverance.

First Post

I would like to take this class because I want to integrate games and simulations in language learning. Honestly, I am not into video games. I only tried "Super Mario". With this IT age, I would like to understand high school students on their passion on video games and how can I include this in teaching English as a second language. At present, I am a TA in Tagalog and I will be coming home to my country this May. MY country has limited resources of technology and I would like to maximize simple, affordable and accessible resources for the students.