Just finished listening to one of Jon Udell's Interviews with Innovators podcasts and would like to recommend it to anyone who's paying attention to the idea of gaming in education, or anyone who's not understanding the concept. I mostly fall into the latter camp, especially when it comes to gaming in libraries. I understand the idea of using games in libraries to draw teens, but haven't really bought in to the educational aspect of it, aside from some general skills one might pick up and be able to apply in the real world.
In the interview I'm recommending, Social Dynamics of Online Games, Jon talks with Dmitri Williams and George Vickers:
Dmitri Williams is a 35-year-old academic who studies the social dynamics of online games. He's also a committed member of a World of Warcraft guild in which George Vickers, a 17-year-old college student, plays a key leadership role. In this conversation, Dmitri and George reflect on the ways in which leadership and organizational skills can be developed in an online multiplayer game.
Two of the examples they discussed really made sense to me, though I still can't apply them to a library setting. First, they discuss how George is the Raid Leader in their World of Warcraft Guild, and how this has taught him valuable organizational and leadership skills. George points out that it's an ideal environment in which to learn and practice these skills, because unlike in the real world, if he fails, it's just a game. In the real world if he tried something and it didn't work he might get fired. Dmitri chimes in to acknowledge that it's a little humbling to be directed by someone half his age, but that it also gives him a chance to interact with and learn from someone with whom he otherwise would never have had contact. Lots of discussion of the social implications of the online environment.
The second example is with learning languages, and Dmitri makes the point that while one can of course learn French in the classroom, if you found a game someone was interested in, something fun and engaging, and then said for homework you have to play that game on a French server, and interact with everyone in French (either text or VOIP), you can be sure that the student would learn a lot faster, and aside from some initial frustration, wouldn't even pay attention to the fact that he was learning a language (being educated).
Good stuff - give it a listen.