November 3, 2011

“Serious players of video games get their glory largely from being the first on the block to master the game that just came out, and this means that kids have a powerful incentive to get good at learning well and quickly. But the games provide more than incentive. They also provide excellent exercises for practicing the development of the skill of learning. One factor making for their merit is that learning a new game is a demarcated learning project, with a beginning, a middle and an end. The fact that playing a video game takes place in a limited time period makes it different from activities—for example, baseball—whose presence in the individual’s life stretches far into the past and the future and are therefore difficult to recognize as a thing apart that one is doing well or badly. Another factor is that games are designed so that the learner can take charge of the process of learning, thus making it very different than school learning, where the teacher (or the curriculum designer) has made the important decisions and the “learners” are expected to do what they are told—which is no way to learn to be a good learner.”

Papert, S. (1998) Does Easy Do It? Children, Games, and Learning. From the June 1998 issue of Game Developer magazine, “Soapbox” section, page 88. Also included is a letter in response to Papert’s article and Papert’s response to that letter, both of which appeared in the September 1998 issue of the magazine.

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