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Digital games: Motivation, engagement and informal learning

Presentation by Jo Iacovides at CALRG 2012.

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Rebecca Ferguson
19 June 2012

Alongside the increasing popularity of digital games there is still much to be understood about the relationships between motivation, engagement and informal learning within this context.  This talk considers the findings of the author’s PhD research in terms of how and what people learn from their gaming involvement.

The research included a conceptual analysis of motivation and engagement (reconceptualised as forms of micro and macro level involvement respectively) and three linked studies.  In the first study, 30 players were interviewed via email about their gaming experiences.  The resulting set of learning categories and themes drew attention to learning on a game, skill and personal level; arising from micro-level gameplay and macro-level interaction with wider communities and resources.  The second investigation consisted of eight case studies that examined how involvement and learning come together in practice.  Participants were observed in the lab during two gameplay sessions and kept gaming diaries over a three week period.  Game-play was analysed with respect to breakdowns and breakthroughs while the previous categories and themes were also applied to the data. The findings suggested a relationship between macro involvement and player identity and so a third survey study (with 232 respondents) was conducted to further investigate the issue and establish the prevalence of different gaming activities on a wider scale.

The talk presents the learning categories developed and introduces the Gaming Involvement and Informal Learning framework in order discuss: (1) the range of learning experienced as a result of micro and macro involvement and (2) the importance of player identity; where the more strongly someone identifies as a gamer, the more likely they are to learn from their gaming experiences.

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