Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Blog Post #2- Response to Good Video Games and Good Learning

July 17th, 2014 · 2 Comments

The notion of “fun and games” often alludes to children playing games and having fun in their spare time outside of the classroom environment. If children and adolescents have fun outside the classroom, shouldn’t they be able to have fun inside the classroom too? In James Gee’s article, Good Video Games and Good Learning, he articulates the value in playing games in a classroom setting in order to develop a particular skill set involving problem solving, risk-taking, and exploration. Gee states that students “cannot apply their knowledge to solve problems or understand the conceptual lay of the land in the area that they are [currently] learning” (Gee 34). Rather, students are often taught to develop memorization skills and in turn, their ability to regurgitate facts. Although memorization may be a valuable skill, it does not prepare students for entering a world that requires the ability to problem solve and think critically on a daily basis. Students should be taught skills that are transferable to real life situations. The incorporation of games of all forms in the classroom environment will allow students to take risks and have fun in the class and will thereby motivate students to become more engaged in classroom activities.


Prior to reading Gee’s article, I can’t say that I had thought much about incorporating gaming into my own classroom environment. Yet, I think that many of the skills that you can learn from gaming are incredibly valuable and would be beneficial for an individual as they move forward in their life. For instance, one key skill learned when gaming is risk-taking which I think is a skill that many people overlook. Gee states that gaming encourages students to “take risks, explore, and try new things” (Gee 35). Gaming can allow students to create narratives based on the stories they create within the gaming world. Gaming also gives students the opportunity to fail and try again. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Gee argues that in the gaming world “failure is a good thing” (Gee 35). In many online games, an individual may lose a level and then be given the opportunity to restart that level shortly after. In this type of environment, students get the chance to make mistakes, learn from them, and then apply their new skills when they try the level over again. With age, students will learn that much of life is about trial and error. Learning how to take the knowledge learned from one’s mistakes and how to use that knowledge to find success in future endeavors is a life skill that is applicable to any person’s life.


Classrooms around the world are often filled with bored and unengaged students. Games have the ability to engage students for hours on end and encourage students to consciously think about the decisions and choices they are making online. The modern classroom should engage students and make them excited to come to class. Gee writes in his article that “Humans actually enjoy learning, though sometimes in school you would not know it” (Gee 34). I think that using gaming in the classroom has the potential to give students agency and will give students a sense of control and ownership ownership over what they are doing (Gee 36). I don’t believe that games should make up the entire curriculum for any particular course. However, I believe that if educators use games in the classroom environment in conjunction with traditional methods of teaching, student will become more engaged and more likely to remember the material they are taught.


Gee, J. (2005). Good Video Games and Good Learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37.

Tags: gaming · Weblog Activities

2 responses so far ↓

  • whitneyo // Jul 18th 2014 at 9:44 am

    You make a point about engaging students that I think is interesting, which I also agree with. I love the idea that students, in playing games, are working to move through a narrative. When people read books from start to finish, they have committed themselves to taking in the entire narrative. A novel, however, typically does not resist being read (you could argue, however, that inaccessibility and difficulty level do in fact stand between certain readers and certain texts); video games, conversely, resist being passively experienced. To experience a video game narrative to completion, the reader/player must not only commit themselves to the task of reading/playing; they must also circumvent literal obstacles that lie between the rest of the narrative and themselves. You must be highly motivated if you wish to complete the story.

    There are students who love playing through difficult video games, and there are video games that have fantastic narratives. There are students who are working hard to move past obstacles to get to these narratives. I am personally very excited by the idea that people are so actively engaged in the discovery narrative, and see a lot of practical applications of this in an English language arts classroom.

  • loappiah // Jul 20th 2014 at 8:15 pm

    I agree with your statements, many of the skills learned in video games can be valuable and beneficial to real world experiences. One of your comments really stood out to me. You mentioned that ‘gaming can allow students to create narratives based on the stories they create within the gaming world.’ Being an English major I think this is fantastic. I feel like there is a lot there that could be done with such an activity. Students could take one of their favorite characters from a game and write a game trailer for a potential sequel. Students could even describe one of the missions that they had to complete. If you were doing a novel study students could potentially create [or write] a game for that novel. During my practicum I had my students create a Fahrenheit 451 board game that needed to incorporate the novel and propaganda [which we studied after the novel]. The school I taught at also has a software and gaming design class that allows students to create their own work. If the school you work at has this resource you could potentially team up with the teacher of that class and create a multidiscipline unit. There is so much that could potentially be done with this. Another thing that is so great about using games in the classroom is that it’s not gender specific. Many people think that boys dominate the gaming world. But that’s not necessarily the case anymore because of the portability of games today. Boys and girls can access games from their phones, tablets, computers, television, iPods, etc. I think with the increasing amount of devices came the demand for more games that appealed to both genders thus making gaming a universal genre. I think that incorporating gaming within the classroom, whether it be evaluating or creating will be very beneficial and engaging.

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