MSc: Digital Games Based Learning Unit

As part of my MSc in eLearning at Edinburgh University I am currently studying a unit on digital games based learning. Part of the course requires me to write a weblog (over 12 weeks). My university weblog has not attracted many comments recently so I thought I would open it up and re post some of my thoughts here for a wider audience. It is likely my next few posts will relate to digital games so please feel free to comment. Your thoughts and view are always appreciated!


Pac-Man Screen Shot from iPad

Pac-Man Screenshot (iPad) Photo Credit: tjmwatson (under CC)

Pac Man was a game that I was first introduced to as a child in the late 1980s. I can’t remember which computer I played the game on, but Amstrad springs to mind. The Pac-Man movements are controlled by the game player. The object of Pac-Man is to eat as many Pac-dots as you can without getting eaten by the different colored ghosts that roam around the pac maze. If you eat a large Pac-dot it will turn all the ghosts blue. When the ghosts are blue, you (Pac-Man) can in turn eat them. Fruit also appears at random points in the maze. If you eat these fruits you will gain more points.

For the purpose of the course, I downloaded Pac-Man “lite” (the free version) for my iPad.

I think this is a great little game for testing reaction time and small scale problem solving. However in terms of learning, I am not sure exactly what the player *is* learning? I guess there is a certain amount of physical finger coordination to be learned and perhaps the Thinking Correctly Under Pressure (TCUP) theory, but how could this be applied in another context? Perhaps when playing sport and choosing your tactics?

As Greenfield (1984) states video games are “merely sensory motor games of hand-eye coordination”; quite a sweeping statement but applicable in the context of Pac-Man and many of the basic games of the era. Other similar games of the 1980s that spring to mind Hungry Horrace (the first computer game I owned for the Commodore 64) and the Dizzy Game series (more in another post)

How things have changed with touch-screen technology and augmented reality just some of the things that I am looking forward to investigating further during this course :-)