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10 steps to promoting diversity in gaming

By Meris Stansbury, Managing Editor for eCampus News, @eSN_Meris
November 21st, 2014

Game and instructional designers give advice for how educators should incorporate gaming

diversity-gaming-educationUsing games and designing games for education is not all, well, fun and games, say experts. In fact, the key to successfully using games for education is in promoting a diverse “ecosystem” of gameplay complete with codes of conduct.

In part one of this story, “#Gamergate—and what it means for gaming in education,” which discussed the cultural context of Gamergate and how it applies to education, MIT’s Education Arcade emphasized that “the key to fashioning the gaming world as a safe place for women and others is not necessarily censorship or making all games appeal to all potential players, but rather to create an ecosystem of games designed to appeal to players of different play styles, values, and backgrounds,” and nowhere is this ecosystem more important than education.

“Games are one of the best learning mediums in education because it forces the learner to interact with information,” explained Sherry Jones—a Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Game Studies instructor at the University of Colorado, Denver, as well as game studies facilitator for the Metagame Book Club at ISTE’s Games & Simulations Network.

Nicole Lazzaro, a psychology and computer programming graduate of Stanford University, president and founder of XEODesign, Inc., and one of Gamasutra’s ‘Top 20 Women Working in Video Games,’ echoed Jones’ belief, saying that all games are, at their foundation, educational.

“All games teach, so education should be built into the game mechanic: you master the game, you master the content,” she emphasized. “Play is where we invent our future selves, so learning is a natural result of most game design.”

However, though games are in themselves educational, Jones said that educators do have a responsibility to implement and design games that provide MIT’s suggested ecosystem of game play diversity.

According to these experts, here are 10 steps educators should take in promoting diversity and equal rights when using and designing games for learning:

When using games:

1. Play the game yourself: “Educators need to play the game first to know what portions are appropriate for students and whether or not the game aligns to the course’s goals,” said Kae Novak, an instructional designer for online learning at Front Range Community College and chair of ISTE’s Special Interest Group for Virtual Environments. [Read “Should every educator also be a gamer?”]

(Next page: Tips for using and creating games 2-10)