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Evans 1 Sarah Evans CCR: 732 Patrick Berry 28 February 2013 Who Can Benefit from Gaming?

Though Ive played video games for as long as I can remember, I never really thought about what they taught me or could teach me until more recently. I always knew that they helped me with my hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills (as Jonathan Alexander points out on page 46), but other than that I didnt reflect much on what kind of skills/knowledge I was learning. That was my first mistake. One of the primary points that the articles for this week (and interviewing my boyfriend, Jezreel) showed me was that reflection is a major part of drawing skills from playing video games. I suppose thoughtful consideration on anything would make learning from it more beneficial, but I think it is particularly so with video games because they are so fun. The fun occurring in the moment makes it difficult to determine what you are learning as you play. Alexander points out five areas of literacies that people can encounter through games: literacy reflectivity, trans-literacy connections, collaborative writing, multicultural literacy awareness, and critical literacy development (37). I agree that if you want to succeed in online games you will certainly need varying levels of many of these skills. However, something that Alexander does not mention is the notion that a gamer must be very invested in their game to necessitate the comprehension of all these skills. I do not think that detracts from the usefulness of games or even Alexanders argument, but I think it reveals that not everyone who plays a

Evans 2 video game will learn these literacies. The participants in his study must dump many hours into playing the game, which not everyone has the luxury to do, or even wants to do. However, I realized that to be very skillful at a game you must be relatively intelligent and open-minded, especially if you often rely on others in these online spaces. Alexanders five literacies play out well for people who fit the criteria and want to seriously invest their time in gaming. I find it difficult to see however, how these skills might work well for casual gamers who do not have the ability/desire to spend so much time on a game. It leads me to wonder which of Alexanders literacies apply to both causal and hardcore gamers and which apply only to hardcore players. Matthew S. S. Johnsons chapter in Composing (Media) = Composing (Embodiment) puts forth an argument about identity experimentation that I think can work equally well for both casual and hardcore gamers. He writes: Identity exploration is a crucial activity for rhetorical invention and for learning in general (Johnson 60). Most narrative-based games, a label which covers a lot of territory (adventure, role-playing games, first person shooters, etc.), requires players to experience the game through an avatar. Whether they get to create the avatar from the ground up (Skyrim, WoW, Mass Effect, Sims, etc.) or have no choice at all about the way their avatar looks/acts (Super Mario World, Metroid, The Walking Dead Game, etc.), the point is, players get to experience others perspectives. I wrote a paper last semester about how viewing games as narratives (with Fishers narrative paradigm in mind) best serves games as tools for learning. When we play through the stories of others, especially stories that we could never encounter in real life, I think we are able to learn a lot about our real life identities as well as experiment with alternate identities. Many games now provide opportunities to do this wherein players will get real feedback on how their avatar is perceived based on decisions they make in

Evans 3 the game. This is useful as it potentially prompts self-reflection, an act I already established as important to gleaning the most from what games have to offer.