Sunday, August 15, 2010


For part of my career I taught students with severe emotional disabilities and emotional disturbances. As part of my reward system students could earn time to use the computer to play a game. It was the most coveted reward of my reward system, and they always enjoyed the break from the academics. Since then I have discovered some wonderful Web 2.0 tools as a result of my last 2 Full Sail classes. One of them was Second Life, which is really a gaming site used for everything from corporate meetings to college classes. My interest in this type of Web 2.0 tool has led me to narrow my AR focus to how gaming can effect character education. Here are some articles I read about the subject:
I read an article called “Effects of Reducing Children’s Television and Video Game Use on Effective Behavior”, which was a paper revealing results of a controlled trial done by the American Medical Association in 2001.  The conclusion of the trial was reported that reducing television, videotape, and video game use decreases aggressive behavior in children. (Arch Pediatric Adolescent Media. 2001; 155:17-23). I found it interesting that at the same time this study was being reported, my 12 students became less aggressive the more they played. In fact, I found they concentrated more, and the time playing gave them a chance to calm and sooth their aggression. This attitude, whether based on controlled trials or simply generalizations of those with digital-phobia, is one that i intend to explore as part of this research project. Even though this article did not support the idea of using gaming  in character education, it was an example of the reasons people have such negative perceptions of gaming.
The next article I read was called “Video Games in Education”, written by Kurt Squire of MIT, no date. In this article Squire acknowledges that video games elicit powerful emotional reactions in their players such as fear, power, aggression, wonder, or joy. (Squires, nd). He quotes Bowman,who suggests that educators could use video games as a model for improving learning environments. (Bowman, 1982). I found this article encouraging in support of using video games as a tool in the classroom, and although it did not specifically discuss it’s use in character education, it certainly was a meaningful approval.
My next source was a video called “Games Can Change Behavior” by Jesse Schell, posted on 2/28/10 by Dr. Robert Hughes, Jr. This was an excellent lecture on how society could be made to change their behavior if given points for everyday things. Assuming as we are all networked and connected through our Facebook, Twitter and other online accounts, the powers that be could keep track of our score for each activity. Schell’s most amusing example was earning points for brushing your teeth. If you brushed your teeth you received 10 points, but if you brushed them for the recommended amount of time you earned 20 points! The toothbrush had a chip in it that reported your time. Points could also be earned for being on time to work and for riding the bus, because it would save resources. While the thought of such a thing bordered on the ridiculous, one could see how motivating it would be to everyone. In fact, what Schell described was much like my reward system in my class that provided points earned for good behavior, which would allow students to play video games.


  1. How gaming might influence character will be a very interesting study. Recently I was playing the game Mafia(a non computer game) with some of my wife's friends. One of a guys known to be very quiet in class and rarely very emotive, just came alive while playing the game. He was animated, turning red on being caught at Mafia and was very vocal. It took most of the people by surprise. It was really playing the game that brought the change in him. I think your AR topic is very promising. I have listened to a talk by founders of
    where educators have observed a positive behavioral change in students who are into gaming. This might help in your research

  2. Thanks Joseph! I will definitely check that out. Several of the sources I have already looked at are against using gaming in education in any form using the old line that it promotes violence, but I don't think it does. I think, like you said, it evokes strong emotions, as in your friend. I really believe that some of our worst behavior problems just don't know how to communicate their feelings, but maybe through the use of an avatar on a gaming site, they will be able to! Thanks for your comment.