ICE 2007 • Video Games + Motivation • Robert Smelser

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Video Games + Motivation

ICE 2007 • Part 1: A Primer • Robert Smelser

A Primer: What Are All of These Things?
There are several video game products on the market right now. Here’s a brief look at a few of the more popular as of the delivery of this presentation in January 2007.

What’s Hot? Here are the top 5 reviewed games for each system. Rankings are gathered from

Microsoft XBox

XBox • Halo: Combat Evolved • Halo 2 • Grand Theft Auto Double Pack • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic • Ninja Gaiden Black

The XBox was Microsoft’s first foray into the game console market. It was the most powerful of the consoles when it came out, and Xbox was successful in showing that game consoles could be as effective as PCs in online gaming.

Microsoft XBox 360

XBox 360 • The Elder Oblivion • Gears of War • Ghost Recon Advance Warfighter • Call of Duty 2 • Rainbow Six:Vegas Scrolls 4:

XBox 360 is the second generation of XBox. It features HD support and a refined online service. The XBox 360, like its predecessor, is geared toward more mature gamers, but it is also gathering a respectable library of family-friendly titles.

Nintendo DS
Nintendo DS • Mario Kart DS • Castelvania: Sorrow • Advance Strike Dawn Wars: of Dual

• New Super Mario Bros. • Meteos

The Nintendo DS is a handheld gaming platform that is unique for its touchsensitive controls. The DS has a very diverse catalogue of titles, and it has seen strong sales around the world, attracting customers who might otherwise not consider purchasing a gaming device.

ICE 2007 • Part 1: A Primer • Robert Smelser

Nintendo Game Boy Advance

Game Boy Advance • Super Mario Advance 2 • Super Mario Advance 4 • Advance Wars • Mario Kart Super Circuit • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

While in its declining years, the Game Boy Advance is still a popular device. It’s catalogue of titles is largely geared toward children, and its lower price point is attractive to families on a budget.

Nintendo GameCube

GameCube • Metroid Prime • Resident Evil 4 • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker • Soul Caliber 2 • SSX 3

The Nintendo GameCube had a hard time gaining momentum on market. It has the largest percentage of family-friendly games of its competitors, but many consumers dismissed it as a children’s toy. Unlike other consoles, the GameCube has no media center capabilities.

Nintendo Wii
Wii • The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess • Madden NFL 07 • Trauma Center: Second Opinion • Rayman Raving Rabbids • Wii Sports

The Wii is something different for a console. It eschews horsepower and embraces motion-sensitive technology for controlling games. The Wii has seen some strong initial success, and its innovative interface has attracted customers who had previously dismissed Nintendo’s products.

ICE 2007 • Part 1: A Primer • Robert Smelser Sony PlayStation 2

PlayStation 2 • Resident Evil 4 • Grand Theft Auto III • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty • Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec

The PlayStation 2 is currently the most popular console in the world despite its age and lack of power in comparison to other products on the market. With a large and diverse selection of titles, the PlayStation 2 has become a device synonymous with gaming.

Sony Playstation 3
PlayStation 3 • Resistance: Fall of Man • Fight Night Round 3 • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 • Marvel: Ultimate Alliance • Call of Duty 3

The PlayStation 3 is significantly more powerful than its predecessor. It offers a more thorough online service that its predecessor and supports HD resolutions. The PS3 is unique because features a Blu-ray drive for optical media.

Sony Playstation Portable
PlayStation Portable • Lumines • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops • Wipeout Pure • Ridge Racer • Tekken: Dark Resurrection

The PlayStaion Portable (or PSP) is Sony’s first foray into handheld gaming. Following the PlayStation philosophy of design, the PSP not only plays games, but it can also be used as a portable movie player (using UMD movies) and an MP3 player.

Disclaimer: The XBox 360, Playstation 3, and the Nintendo Wii are very new systems, so the top five titles listed here will not be representative of the type of games or franchises that may be most developed on the systems in the long run.

ICE 2007 • Part 2: How Games Hook Us • Robert Smelser

How Games Hook Us
Good quality video games will capture the player and hold onto him or her. Good games are hard to put down, and someone might play two, three, or more hours without even being truly conscious of the time passage. A video gamer may even have a collection of favorite games he or she keeps coming back to – has possibly even played through several times. How does this happen?

Simply, a well-made video game is adept at fulfilling some basic, low-level psychological needs. A recent study conducted by the University of Rochester cites a deep sense of satisfaction as a reason – a sense of satisfaction that surpasses the motivational factor of fun. "We think there's a deeper theory than the fun of playing," says Richard M. Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University and lead investigator in the four new studies about gaming. Players reported feeling best when the games produced positive experiences and challenges that connected to what they know in the real world. The research found that games can provide opportunities for achievement, freedom, and even a connection to other players. Those benefits trumped a shallow sense of fun, which doesn't keep players as interested.(1) The article goes on to talk about the motivational qualities of games and how players respond when the games produced positive feedback or experiences based on the actions of the player. Basic elements of classic conditioning and positive reinforcement are essential to a positive gaming experience.

What are some of the highest-ranked games by genre?

Platform • Super Mario 64 • Rayman 2: The Great Escape • Super Mario Advance 2 • Super Mario Advance 4 • Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal

FIrst-Person Shooter • Metroid Prime • GoldenEye 007 • Half-Life 2 • Halo: Combat Evolved • Perfect Dark

Action Adventure • The Legend of Ocarina of Time • Resident Evil 4 • Grand Theft Auto III Zelda:

These psychological factors are essential when considering the time investment needed to master modern video games. For example, a standard PlayStation 2 DualShock 2 controller has sixteen possible inputs with the analog sticks additionally serving as buttons. Many games are not as easy to pick up and play as games from earlier generations, so the ability of the game to keep the player in

• Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

ICE 2007 • Part 2: How Games Hook Us • Robert Smelser terested and motivated is important to the success of any game. Though different types of games and game environments were studied, [Richard M.] Ryan points out that while not all video games are able to satisfy basic psychological needs, "those that do may be the best at keeping players coming back."(1) If a game fails to motivate gamers and hold their attention, then the gamer does not keep at it. As a result, he or she does not recommend the game to others, and this risks the commercial success of the game. (It is important to note that tie-in games often see great initial success due to the property they are attached to but seldom see strong sales over a long-term.)
Role-Playing • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic • Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn • The Elder Oblivion Scrolls IV: Driving • Gran Turismo • Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec • Burnout 3: Takedown • Project Gotham Racing 2 • Forza Motorsport

While this study published in the January issue of Motivation and Emotion focuses heavily on multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft, these principles hold true for any genre of video games. From platform, to role-playing, to sports, the mostrespected and most popular games keep giving players reasons to come back.

• Final Fantasy IX • FInal Fantasy XII

Services like XBox Live help create a sense of accomplishment in Achievement Points. Recent Burnout games reward the player with trophies and postcards for achieving special objectives or stunts. The Ratchet & Clank series is filled with hidden objectives that can unlock special features and content. The Final Fantasy series grips audiences with its storytelling and epic feel.

Alternative Sports • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater • Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 • SSX 3

Even on a simple level, though, good games go out of their way to reinforce player progress. Take Burnout: Revenge as an example. When the player knocks another car out of the race, the camera zooms in on the wreck the player caused, text appears stating “Takedown!” and the type of takedown, a quick, bright sound plays, and the player gets an immediate speed boost. All of this happens simultaneously, creating a deep sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in the player.
Traditional Sports • NFL 2K1 • Pro Evolution Soccer 2 • NCAA Football 2004 • World Soccer Winning Eleven 7 International • Madden NFL 2002 • Madden NFL 2004

Good games are not merely fun. Good games are rewarding, fulfilling, and engaging.


“A reason why video games may be hard to give up”

ICE 2007 • Part 3: Our Challenge • Robert Smelser

Our Challenge
How do we as educators compete with the motivational quality of these video games? The answer is that we don’t. Instead, we should learn from what these games do well, especially in terms of positive reinforcement and encouragement of self-motivation and examine how we can apply these concepts in the classroom. Instead of treating video games as the negative force they are typified as in politics and media, we should see how we can embrace the positive aspects they teach us.

Activity and Product. Students should have a goal in mind from the onset of an assignment or project. There should be a final product goal that is a tangible achievement – a slide presentation, a standing display, a book. Allow students to create a product they can take pride in and share with others. Assessment and busywork should never be considered as acceptable motivators for our children. Good games have clearly defined goals, and our classrooms should too.

Be Visual and Hands-On. Don’t just tell your students about something. Explore opportunities for the topic to be experienced. This can be facilitated in study trips, in classroom plays, in writer’s workshop, or in a nearby park or field. Engaging games are not passive experiences where the game does all the work. The gamer is required to participate and control his or her character. Our classrooms should avoid a passive atmosphere.

Praise; Don’t Punish. If you fall off a ledge in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, for example, you begin at the beginning of the level (or the last checkpoint), and you retain all major accomplishments as well as items, experience, and bolts acquired. Conversely, in a FInal Fantasy game, if your party members all die, you lose all accomplishments since your last save. Guess which game most individuals find less frustrating. Likewise, we can make our classroom frustrating if we continually punish children for their mistakes or academic shortcomings. Rather, we should reward them for the progress they have made and encourage them to keep trying for the next step.

Make It Social. Many children are social creatures. Good online games create a strong sense of community that makes the gamers feel like they are a part of something meaningful. Find ways to create a sense of community in your classroom. Give the children something to feel attached to that creates a motivating force to rise above expectations one might set if left completely alone and isolated.

Make It Personal. Good games of any genre make you feel like you are amazing for finding that secret item, pulling off an amazing stunt, winning a challenging race, defeating the difficult opponent. In the classroom, connect with your children on a personal level. Congratulate them personally on a job well done. Write positive notes home for individuals. Talk to each child daily. Help them see how much you are interested in them individually, and they will demonstrate a greater interest in you.

Keep It Coming. Make sure your positive reinforcements, personal connections, and tangible experiences continue. Just as a quality game keeps the pattern of rewards and reinforcements progressing up until the con

ICE 2007 • Part 3: Our Challenge • Robert Smelser clusion, our students should experience consistent and regular feedback from the adults they come in contact with on a daily basis. Our application comes down to an energy and enthusiasm we should be willing to have. Gamers love playing games that love to be played. This may sound silly, but there are many sloppy games on the market that feel a chore to play – almost as if the developers resent their own product and customers. (Anyone remember Superman 64?) Good games are encouraging and inviting, and our classes should be positive environments that our students find equally as inviting.

Finally, project-based and student-driven approaches go a long way in stimulating student interest and motivation. Students who take ownership of their learning will inherently feel more driven to pursue and complete related tasks.

Video games are not inherently evil. They are not the enemy, and they are not leading to the downfall of society as we know it. True, one could find many negative qualities in several titles, but that can be accomplished in any given medium of communication, storytelling, and entertainment. Instead of blanket vilifying games, we should look at what they do well in capturing and retaining attention, rewarding progress, and promoting motivation. If we can learn how to emulate these qualities in the classroom, we might find ourselves with a more enthusiastic and motivated classroom.

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