Jul 21

The Power of Amusement: Lessons from the gaming world

Representing Knowledge in the Digital Humanities (Saturday, September 24, 2011)
Conference Schedule

Poster Session

Ireton, Daniel. Assistant Professor/Undergraduate and Community Services Librarian, Kansas State University;
Urton, Ellen. Associate Professor/Visual Literacy Librarian, Kansas State University

Title: The Power of Amusement: Lessons from the gaming world

Abstract: Video games have long been dismissed as an amusing distraction at best and as a direct cause of the decline of civilization at worst. Yet, undergraduate students entering higher education now have never lived in a world in which video games have not existed; indeed they are a ubiquitous aspect of our shared cultural experience. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) reported that as of 2009 video games are played in 67% of all U.S. households and the computer and video game industry made $10.5 billion in revenue (www.esrb.org/about/video-game-industry-statistics.jsp). According to Stephen E. Siwek in “Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2010 Report” compiled for the Entertainment Software Association (www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/VideoGames21stCentury_2010.pdf):
• “The U.S. computer and video game software publishing industry directly employs more than 32,000 people in 34 states.”
• “The U.S. computer and video game software industry’s value added to U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $4.9 billion.”
• “The real annual growth rate of the U.S. computer and video game software industry was 10.6% for the period 2005-2009 and 16.7% for the period 2005-2008.”
• “During the same periods, real growth for the U.S. economy as a whole was 1.4% for 2005-09 and 2.8% for 2005-08.”

An educator may create a game intended to impart certain knowledge or skills, but those wishing to do so should be wary of creating games that succeed at delivering content but fail as games. Where video games are discussed or applied in education, the academic community seems to dismiss the broader cultural context of gaming and has yet to harness the cultural application and relevance of video games. The instructive power of video games is not discipline-specific, but rather they are instructive by their very design; problem solving, visual literacy, aesthetic literacy, critical thinking, data driven decision making, and a willingness to iterate are ubiquitous in the games of today. The most successful games are narrative-driven, immersive, experiential, aesthetically pleasing, and enjoyable works of art.

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