Let me tell you a little story about the social nature of gaming. I don't, in general, encourage baby boomers to rush off and play video games, since the games are often quite hard and can be frustrating for people not willing to confront their own, perhaps rigidified, learning muscles in a new setting. Nonetheless, some older people do run off to play for the first time when they hear me talk (and, indeed, there are a growing number of older gamers these days). One older adult who tried a video game after hearing one of my talks did, indeed, become seriously frustrated. Then his 21-year-old gamer stepson came into the room and asked him "What are you doing?" The man said "Trying to learn to play this damn video game." The son said "For heaven's sake, why would you do that alone?" Ah, so, here is one good learning principle built into gamers, not just games.I can really relate to this.
For three years, I played a game called Company of Heroes, which is a World War II, real-time strategy game. During my time playing the game, I played with a very good friend of mine, Dr. Brad Bahler, and we both were proud members of Gamereplays.org. And yes, we both were, and still are, 30 year old men with a career, a wife and children.
Inside of our three years playing this game, we became intricate members of an on-line gaming community of gamers. This included becoming discussion moderators, replay reviewers, strategy specialists and game administrators. We wrote guides, made videos, created podcasts and even participated in a mentor/mentee program. Essentially, these positions with the on-line community meant we were openly and actively volunteering our time and effort to help ourselves and others become better gamers.
The time I spent playing the game Company of Heroes and on-line at Gamereplays.org provided me invaluable lessons that have proven to be eerily transferable to classroom teaching.
Like James Paul Gee's story, perhaps the largest lesson I took from gaming is that learning is a highly social, emotional, cultural and deeply intrapersonal activity.