Game-like Learning and hidden Ideologies

Dr. J’s Thoughts on:At home taking a rest_001


 PDF of JP Gee paper

Sometimes we are struck by specific  insights triggered through our reading.  My personal trigger in JP Gee’s paper was: “What all these games exemplify, though, is that there is no real learning without some ideology. Adopting a certain set of values and a particular world view is intimately connected to doing the activities and having the experiences that constitute any specific domain of knowledge. “

I never really thought or analyzed this aspect of video gaming and virtual world
environments. However, as I have a teen, I know about my strong reactions to ongoing gaming endeavors. Games such as Minecraft and Clash of Clans while time-consuming did not seem inherently dangerous. However, the line was drawn and defended when a game simulating a Casino environment became of interest. This game not only requires the buying of gems in real currency but also encourages a Las Vegas type mindset. While I could not put my finger on the strong negative reaction of mine, this article cleared it up. Indeed, this game requires the gamer to embrace a certain type of ideology which I consider extremely dangerous. I see it as a training ground to desensitize the approach to life gaming in a casino.

Generally, the idea of inherent ideology nestled in a game is something worth exploring as this opens unconscious doors within the ID and Ego not accessible to teachers in a classroom. Latent character flaws and strengths could be activated. As such, I will call this for a lack of better words “unguided manipulation” which can and does have far reaching consequences not only in school but real life.

Joshua Smyth, associate professor of psychology in The College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University, recently conducted a randomized trial study of college students contrasting the effects of playing online socially interconnected video games with more traditional single-player or arcade-style games.

While both multiplayer and traditional single player video games present a double-edged sword, Smyth’s research found that online, socially integrated multiplayer games create greater negative consequences (decreased health, well-being, sleep, socialization and academic work) but also garner far greater positive results (greater enjoyment in playing, increased interest in continuing play and a rise in the acquisition of new friendships) than do single-player games.

All students taking part in the study reported decreased health and sleep and interference with real-life socializing and academic work. In contrast to these costs, participants experienced benefits, most notably by those taking part in online multiplayer game play. Online multiplayer gamers enjoyed their play far more than those assigned to more traditional game types, creating new friendships in their online environments.

The greater question is that of hidden manifestations of value and ideology manipulation be it “good or bad”. With online time commitments outpacing real life experiences the door is wide open to idealogical manipulation.  While I am not paranoid about a “great conspiracy”, I do believe that a highjacking of values is inherently possible in virtual worlds.  When thinking about a counterpart in the literary world I was reminded  of “The Giver” by Lois Lowry where society in its quest for total harmony eventually forgoes all their memories to achieve perfect harmony though perfect assimilation.

“We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others.”
― Lois Lowry, The Giver


Author: drcowinj

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today,” determined Malcolm X at the O.A.A.U.’s [Organization of Afro-American Unity] founding forum at the Audubon Ballroom. (June 28, 1964). (X, n.d.) Dr. Jasmin Bey Cowin a Fulbright Scholar, SIT Graduate, completed the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP™) at Columbia University, Teachers College. Dr. Cowin served as the President of the Rotary Club of New York and Assistant Governor for New York State; long-term Chair of the Rotary United Nations International Breakfast meetings; and works as an Assistant Professor at Touro College, Graduate School of Education. Dr. Cowin has over twenty-five years of experience as an educator, tech innovator, entrepreneur, and institutional leader with a focus on equity and access to digital literacy and education in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. Her extensive background in education, administration, not-for-profit leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, and technology innovation provide her with unique skills and vertical networks locally and globally. Dr. Cowin participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline as elected Vice President and Chair-Elect for the New York State, NYS TESOL organization, for the 2021 conference. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publications, presentations, and participation in academic conferences, blogging, and other scholarly activities, including public performances and exhibitions at conferences and workshops. Of particular interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education; Current Global Trends in TESOL; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English; E-learning; Micro and Macro-Methodologies in TESOL; E-Resources Discovery and Analysis; and Language Acquisition and the Oculus Rift in VR.

3 thoughts on “Game-like Learning and hidden Ideologies”

  1. “The greater question is that of hidden manifestations of value and ideology manipulation be it “good or bad”. With online time commitments outpacing real life experiences the door is wide open to idealogical manipulation… I do believe that a highjacking of values is inherently possible in virtual worlds. When thinking about a counterpart in the literary world I was reminded of “The Giver” by Lois Lowry where society in its quest for total harmony eventually forgoes all their memories to achieve perfect harmony though perfect assimilation.”

    An interesting comment, and one worth considering. The idea that enough time spent in any environment has the potential to move our ideology from one place to another has, I think, some basis in reality. I consider the variety of different places that I have lived, and how my own ideologies have been adjusted over time to reflect (or reject) certain elements of those societies. Indeed, as I consider the various levels of imposition of an ideology and my willingness to be open to it, I find that what I take away from that experience can be very impactful on my life outside of that society. For example, when living in a place that has a political or social orientation that is different from mine (such as when I have lived in a very conservative state or city), I have a tendency to push back, and my political and social orientation becomes that much more pronounced, and when I leave that society, I take that enhanced level of ideology with me. When living in a society that I am partial to (such as when I am on a mindfulness retreat at a Buddhist monastery), my ideology moves in the other direction – much more accommodating and engaged. I carry that with me outside of the simulated world as well.

    I would imagine that the shaping of ideology is that much more pronounced when one is young and has less context for the world at large. It is at this time of life that children and young adults need the most guidance. Are we giving it?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jasmin, I was also struck by the quote on ideology that you pulled out. I have been mulling it over, but I haven’t taken the time to fully dissect it.

    Gee referenced one compelling game as being “ideologically laden” with implicit messages, beliefs, and values. While there are certain ideologies that may be socially beneficial (treat people with kindness, get immunized for the benefit the herd), there are others that may creep in that I find to be less savory (buy now, pay later, misogyny, xenophobia, consumerism, ethnocentrism, hedonism).

    While discussing this with Judy in another post, I pointed out that interacting with games, or any mediated content (whether a history book, news broadcast, Face Book selfie, or game) necessitates that students learn to be media savvy. They need to learn that all media is created for a purpose for an audience, with implicit values that may need a touch of scrutiny. I agree with Gee’s assertion that “What we hope, of course, is that school exposes students to multiple and juxtaposed ideologies in a critically reflective context.” If that type of reflection is happening (and I sometimes question whether it always is), then I wouldn’t worry so much about implicit ideology.

    Liked by 1 person

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