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Video Games and Theories of Learning: Spotlight on JP Gee and Howard Gardner

Plenty of people in all stages of their lives are fascinated by video games. The games practice can be long, difficult, and challenging, yet the players consider it fun and inspiring. It is hard not to admit that playing games has social and cultural significance in our society. According to J. P. Gee (2003), there are learning principles (LP) that are built into good video games. But these principles do not necessarily boost learning. Several factors are necessary for learning to occur in games and perhaps develop intelligences in the semiotic domain of the daily life. Gee teaches that there are thirty-six learning principles possible to be found and developed in games.

To explain this, Gee defines games as semiotic domain (SD), which, in turn, is part of the wider SD of everyday life. So to speak, a SD is a certain division of the world (whether a location, practice, field of study, etc.) and it can encompass sub-domains Arkadium Games. For instance, first and third-person shooter games are a well-defined sub-domain of the games SD. By introducing the concept of SD to games studies, Gee gives us examples of SD like rap, modernist paintings and games of the genre first person shooter. Gee believes that to achieve learning from a SD is necessary three things: 1) learn to experience the world in different ways, 2) learn to form affiliations with members of the SD, and 3) learn how to gain the necessary resources for future learning and problem solving in the domain, as well as in related domains. As we can see, Gee seeks to approximate games to a broader definition of literacy that involves different types of “visual literacy.” Following this notion of literacy, people are literate in a domain only if they are able to recognize and produce meanings in the field. Furthermore, Gee proposes that we think of literacy as inherently connected to social practices. In fact, in the contemporary culture, articulate language (spoken, gestural, or written) is not the only important communication system. Nowadays, images, symbols, charts, diagrams, equations, artifacts and many other visual symbols play a particularly important role in our daily lives. For example, it is important to learn visual literacy to “read” the pictures in an advertisement. Furthermore, words and images are juxtaposed or integrated in many ways: in magazines, newspapers, textbooks, software, etc. Images take more space and have meanings that can be independent of the words in texts. In this sense, games are multimodal texts. They combine moving images and music with language.

Given the various forms of human activity in the complex society we live in, it becomes necessary to develop a new model of intelligence that allows us to embrace a pluralistic view of intelligence. Howard Gardner’s (1983) influential definition of intelligence was developed by means of a model of seven basic intelligences known as the theory of multiple intelligences (MI). MI represents a broader and more pragmatic view of human nature. The eight intelligences are defined as the following skills:

Final Fantasy VII also featured impressive – for the time – visuals that wouldn’t have been possible had Squaresoft made the game for the N64. The quality of the FMV sequences in Final Fantasy VII was one of the major talking points surrounding the game, and the cinematic edge that Squaresoft brought to the title was something that other games still replicate to this day.

Thanks largely to Final Fantasy VII the PlayStation made a serious mark upon the gaming industry, and from there things only got better. The extra power the N64 had technically was negated by the increased storage capacity of the discs the PlayStation used, and the higher quality of music and video that available to developers. Titles like Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Tomb Raider simply wouldn’t have worked on N64, and they all became major selling points for Sony’s console. What’s more, Nintendo had no answer for games like these, instead generally sticking to the tried and tested games like Mario and Zelda.

While the quality of Nintendo’s games remained as high as ever, their hardware had let them down this time around. Whether they underestimated the threat of Sony as a credible competitor or whether they didn’t realise the impact that CDs would have upon the industry, Nintendo were finally number two to another company in the gaming space. By the end of the generation, the N64 had sold around 32 million units, while the PlayStation racked up over 100 million in sales.

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