Digital games

Digital games are also fun but is there something intrinsically different about them? Digital games are hard and players enjoy the challenge of working harder to win a game. Seymour Papert coined the phrase "hard fun" and that is just how the kids find games.

In the digital gaming environment it can be social with groups of ‘gamers’ getting together to play in a physical or online venue.

What are the different types of digital games?

  • skill and action (arcade, shooter, sport),
  • simulation (flight and racing sims),
  • strategy (war, puzzle, ‘god’, tycoon),
  • adventure (point-and-click),
  • role-playing (online RPGs; social),
  • educational
icon_bstorm.gif Ask your students to brainstorm different types of digital/computer games; share, analyse and categorise results.

Compare games and gaming experiences

How is a game different from: a toy (or computer drawing program), a puzzle, a movie/story, a simulation, a classroom debate?
  • toy (or computer drawing program) is at the extreme end of manipulability (no goal) and poses no challenges;
  • a puzzle is not interactive;
  • a movie/story is not interactive;
  • a computer simulation attempts to represent reality objectively (not fantasy);
  • a classroom debate is perhaps not ‘safe’ (too much competition; threat of losing face).

icon_pair.gificon_reflect.gif Get your students to think-pair-share how a game is different from a puzzle, a toy, a computer drawing program, a movie or story, a computer simulation, a classroom debate.

Fundamental qualities of digital gaming

  • interactive (incorporates active decision-making and differential consequences),
  • challenging (incorporates competition and/or conflict; has an explicit goal, sub-goals, constraints and rules),
  • fantasy (subjective representation of reality),
  • safe (reduced fear of failure).

icon_group.gif Then in small groups get your students to decide on 2-4 fundamental features that all games share and which make them different from other things (Hint: use results from second activity above).

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neals.gif State of New South Wales, Department of Education and Training, 2008