Video Games and Learning Theories: Spotlight on JP Gee and Howard Gardner

Video games fascinate many people in all phases of life. Practicing the game can be long, difficult, and challenging, but players find it fun and inspiring. It’s hard not to admit that playing games has a social and cultural meaning in our society. According to JP Gee (2003), there are learning principles (LP) built into good video games. But these principles do not necessarily promote learning. Several factors are necessary for learning to take place in games and perhaps develop intelligences in the semiotic realm of everyday life. Gee teaches that there are 36 possible learning principles that can be found and developed in games.

To explain this, Gee defines games as a semiotic domain (SD), which in turn is part of the broader SD of everyday life. An SD is sort of a specific division of the world (be it a place, a practice, a field of study, etc.) and can include subdivisions. For example, first-person and third-person shooter games are a well-defined sub-domain of SD games. By introducing the concept of SD into gaming research, Gee gives us examples of SD such as rap, modernist paintings, and first-person shooter games. Gee believes that learning from an SD requires three things: 1) learning to experience the world in different ways, 2) learning to connect with members of the SD, and 3) learning how to use the necessary resources for future learning gains and problem solving in the domain as well as related domains. As we can see, Gee tries to approximate games to a broader definition of literacy that includes different types of “visual literacy”. According to this notion of literacy, people are only literarily gifted in a field if they are able to recognize and produce meanings in that field. Furthermore, Gee suggests that we view literacy as inherently linked to social practices. Indeed, in contemporary culture, articulated language (spoken, gestural, or written) is not the only important communication system. Nowadays, pictures, symbols, tables, charts, equations, artifacts and many other visual symbols play an especially important role in our daily life. For example, it is important to learn visual literacy to “read” the images in an advertisement. In addition, words and images are juxtaposed or integrated in many ways: in magazines, newspapers, textbooks, software, etc. Images take up more space and have meanings that can be independent of the words in texts. In this sense, games are multimodal texts. They combine moving images and music with language.

Given the different forms of human activity in the complex society in which we live, it becomes necessary to develop a new model of intelligence that allows us to take a pluralistic view of intelligence. Howard Gardner’s (1983) influential definition of intelligence was developed using a model of seven basic intelligences known as the multiple intelligences (MI) theory. MI represents a broader and more pragmatic view of human nature. The eight intelligences are defined as the following abilities:

1) to use language competently (linguistic),

2) to use logical thinking in mathematics and science (logical-mathematical),

3) perceiving details of the visuo-spatial world and manipulating objects in the mind (spatially),

4) Understand, create and enjoy music and musical concepts (musical),

5) skillful use of the body (physical-kinaesthetic);

6) recognizing and responding appropriately to subtle aspects of the behavior of others (interpersonal),

7 ) to understand one’s own feelings (intrapersonal), and

8) Recognize patterns and differences in nature (naturalist).

These categories or intelligences represent elements found in all cultures, namely music, words, logic, painting, social interaction, physical expression, inner reflection and appreciation of nature. In contrast to a learning style, which is a general approach that the individual can apply equally to any conceivable content, for Gardner intelligence is a skill with its own processes that are geared to specific content in the world (e.g. musical sounds or spatial patterns).

From this perspective, Gee (2003) and Gardner (1983) value the interplay between learning and skills present in people’s everyday life (culture). So when we think about the SD approach as developed by Gee, we realized that the interaction between both theories, the SD of everyday life, the largest existing set – where the intelligences reside – involves the SD of games. Note that Gardner indicates that one of the goals of his efforts is to examine the pedagogical implications of a theory of multiple intelligences. With this in mind, Gee listed thirty-six principles of learning that are present in games, and given the importance and popularity of games in contemporary culture, it seems interesting to begin investigating how the principles of learning may be related to the multiple intelligences. Therefore, we discuss here some possibilities of association between these theories. In order to achieve this, we want to ask ourselves the question: What can the learning principles built into good games do for the development of the multiple intelligences that are so important in everyday life? In other words, how are these semiotic domains related? To answer this, we used the following research methodology: literature review, website research, game observation, construction of the interaction model between the two learning proposals, and analysis of the model.

Gee describes 36 learning principles found in games. It is worth noting that not all of the learning principles listed by the author can necessarily be found on a single game – there is a chance that a game can teach one or more these principles. The analysis shows that in order to develop one or more intelligences, the learner must be immersed in one or more semiotic areas that have the conditions and qualities necessary to facilitate their development. For example: it is of no use to a trainee of a sports modality to have access to only one modality for the full development of his corporeal-kinaesthetic intelligence, he must have access to different sports, namely different subsemiotic domains that are part of the larger semiotic domain of the sport. Apart from that there are other extrinsic and intrinsic factors (motivation, injuries and proper training materials etc.) that are important to be successful in the whole domain like a sport. Examples of some prominent athletes prove this: Formula 1 drivers, MMA fighters and Olympians. In this sense, our research demonstrates the existence of an unsurpassed binomial: without learning principles there are no good games, while without valorizing a domain in the semiotic domain of everyday life there is no way forward within that domain. Therefore, multiple intelligences cannot be fully developed in certain cultural contexts and the principles of learning are worthless in these contexts

In addition, interpersonal intelligence is very important in learning. We found that it is linked to thirty of the thirty-six learning principles. Interpersonal intelligence clearly arises from cooperative work, community engagement, large group simulations, engagement in social issues, etc. It is precisely the importance of interpersonal intelligence, as Gardner notes, that has been reduced in the contemporary educational scene: sensitivity to people other than individuals and the ability to work with others are becoming less important today than they were in the past. Therefore, we believe that the results of comparing these theories challenge the way we design and administer education in its various domains. For this reason, we believe that further analysis of the intersection of the theories examined here can help us both in using games as an pedagogical proposition and in thinking about education.

The connection between both theories seemed productive for us to think about games and learning in general. First of all, it should be noted that not all games can promote all learning principles. Because there are many factors in the semiotic area of ​​everyday life that can hinder learning and the development of multiple intelligences. And that even if the game conveys the learning principle or the framework conditions for its development, which shows a close connection between the principles and intelligences.

Second, interpersonal intelligence is linked to thirty learning principles. This demonstrates the complexity of learning and thus the challenges that modern education has to face. In fact, examining the interaction between the theories can help us think about new ways of teaching and learning inside and outside of school. It seems that Gee’s relevance is to emphasize the cultural importance of play and for learning, while Gardner’s theory of learning emphasizes the need for favorable conditions (environment, mentors, cultural appreciation, etc.) for skill development. We should remember that ability or intelligence is valued differently across cultures.

We believe that good video games are indeed opportunities for direct and indirect learning of content and skills in the semiotic realm of everyday life, as they are intimately connected to the majority of intelligences.

work cited

Howard Gardner. moods. The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (New York: Basic Books, 1983).

James P Gee. What video games need to teach us about learning and literacy (New York: Palgrave, 2003).

Thanks to Marco A. Bomfoco | #Video #Games #Learning #Theories #Spotlight #Gee #Howard #Gardner

Check Also

Adult Education Can Open New Earning Opportunities

Adult Education Can Open New Earning Opportunities

Sometimes people don’t get a good education when they are young, and adult education courses …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *