image conngamingConnected Gaming: What Making Video Games Can Teach Us about Learning and Literacy explores the world of gaming and video games within an educational context. A fascinating book, it includes many examples of projects that are opening the doors into new ways of understanding. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics all benefit from gaming.



Connected Gaming: What Making Video Games Can Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

Yasmin B. Kafai and Quinn Burke



MIT Press

2016 | 224 pages ISBN: 9780262035378


Reviewed by

Jeff Thurston


Gaming is increasingly important for learning. No longer solely in the domain of entertainment and past time fun, gaming is being used to teach about new subjects, scenarios and the wider implications of decision making. "Over the last decade, video games designed to teach academic content have multiplied. Students can learn about Newtonian physics from a game or prep for entry into the army. An emphasis on the instructionist approach to gaming, however, has overshadowed the constructionist approach, in which students learn by designing their own games themselves," says MIT Press. 

This book aims to inform and increase awarenes about the possibilities for using gaming in real-world situations. As the authors indicate, "educational benefits of constructionist gaming—coding, collaboration, and creativity—and the move from “computational thinking” toward “computational participation.”

For this who believe that gaming has little value, this book proves that observation incorrect - in a very big way. And while some might think that gaming is oriented toward a single individual, that too would be wrong. This book describes not only the educational value of gaming, but expresses the strong communities that form around the develop of games and the social community beyond actual playing. What we find is a deep rooted, highly organized group of people who connect at several levels. 

With this in mind, there is little wonder that people speak about an 'industry' in itself, which, for all purposes exceeds the value of many others already and is constantly growing. The authors support the educational value of gaming and describe what that connection is and why it matters. But they also write about the attitudes and experiences of working with others within a learning-gaming framework. 

We find this community also opening doors and creating new avenues for access into learning. Some of the viewpoints expressed about feminist advocates are interested, but so too are the ways that people are bringing social issues into the newly found gaming environment, backed through social media tools. This has created new opportunities to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields in ways that were previously unseen or unavailable. 

We learn about cardboard box gaming that led to millions of users. At the same time we learn about kids that learn in new ways using their own bodies to understand the world around them. The Maker movement, based on design by anyone, for example,  allows new technologies like 3D printing to connect with designs that provide people with the tools to build actual prototypes and to create environments for interaction. 

From board games, to augmented reality to electronic circuit understanding and Looking Walls, it is all here, and connects with the growing gaming experience. 

In summary, this is truly an inspirational book. It opens the door into the world of gaming in a an easy-to-understand way. The authors provides a wealth of examples where gaming is taking hold, how it is influencing minds, why it is valuable and how it impacts learning. 

This book will expand your mind and help you to understand gaming and video games. It is one of those books you really should read.