Games and Learning Reflection: Take Two

It’s hard to believe I’m just a over a month away from finishing up my master’s program and the job I’ve had for the last three and a half years. Time flies. A lot has changed since the first day of my Games and Learning class. Not only have I gained new knowledge and perspectives but also a sense of self (in and outside of our “classroom”). Change is uncomfortable. Change is tough. But in the end, change is always growth.

Allow me to explain…

If you haven’t been following my blog and don’t already know, I’m not a fan of games. I know weird, right? Everybody loves games! But it’s true. Engaging in an intensive and immersive course on a topic I’m not particularly interested in while dealing with losing my job (and senioritis) has been nothing short of challenging. Thank goodness for me peers.

I’ve relied heavily on my games and learning network throughout the semester. Without it, I’d likely feel unmotivated, apathetic, and confused. Games and learning is a puzzling topic (pun intended). But, thanks to Twitter, I’ve been feeling motivated and supported. Twitter has allowed us to share what’s on our minds as well as our blog posts. This motivates me in two ways. Casual updates reminds me I’m not alone and blog updates remind me I have some work to do!

Our collaboration tool, hypothes.is, has opened my eyes to different ideas and perspectives that I wouldn’t get reading on my own. We’ve got a great mix of expertise and experience in the class so there is always something new to learn; even if it’s off topic. Hypothes.is has also allowed me to open up my attitudes and opinions about games and learning. Turns out, there is no right or wrong way to gaming. Winner or loser, everyone takes away something. To me, this is why learning by way of games is so complex. We all learn something different.

Blogging

forces me to think deeply about what it is I’m doing in this course and how I’m learning from it. By critiquing studies tied to the theme of game-based-learning, I’ve learned that there is more research out there on why games are “bad” vs how they can be beneficial to learning. The topic is not black or white. Reading peer blogs and crafting reflections has sort of solidified this for me and makes me feel a little more comfortable with who I am as a gamer or, non-gamer.

My affinity space, Photoblog, has also swayed my preconceptions about games, play, and learning. Before this class, I didn’t know what an affinity space was nor would I have put Photoblog in that category. As I become more familiar with site and community, I’m learning that there are aspects of gaming in everything we do and our peers help shape what we gain from it. This space, though geared towards photography, is really no different than our course Twitter and Hypothes.is communities.

As I close out my reflection,

I’m left with one question: Does play allow for change to be more comfortable? If we’re relaxed and having fun, do we embrace whatever comes our way fully and with an open heart? I think so. I think in essence, this is what games and learning is all about. When we approach life with a playful heart, we’re open to new ideas, perspectives, and most importantly, change. This is what helps us move forward in life and as a society.

Why are so many scholars focusing on the “bad?” Why do most people, myself included, associate games with the negative? How would our society be different if everyone played as much as they worked?

Perhaps I’ll get some answer with the remaining month of our course.

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