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

Dr. Cowin is a visionary with executive and education experience who believes transformative leadership happens through cooperation plus collaboration resulting in personal and institutional transformation. Her values of integrity, ethics, innovation, empowerment of those less fortunate, diversity, and growth are encapsulated in her belief of “Service above Self.” She holds impeccable academic credentials as a Fulbright Scholar with two Masters Degrees and a Doctor of Education from Teachers College/Columbia University As the President of the Rotary Club of New York, Chief Marketing Officer of PeopleMovers® and former faculty, she brings over 25 five years of experience as an educator, tech innovator, entrepreneur and institutional leader in the areas of financial stewardship, governance, marketing, teaching and implementation of strategic partnerships. The principles of growth, differentiation, and adaptation guide her professional life. She believes in high ethical standards in her personal life and business, the recognition of the worthiness of all productive occupations, and the dignifying of each person's occupation as an opportunity to serve society. As a connector, she displays stamina, the ability to listen and reflect, diplomacy and a lifelong passion for education as the path to personal empowerment. Her extensive background in education, administration, not-for-profit leadership, entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to institutional success, technology innovation, and demonstrated ability to work with others provide her with unique skills and vertical networks locally and globally.

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

  1. 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

  2. “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

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