Gee, J. P. (2008). Cats and portals-Video games, learning, and play. American Journal of Play, 1(2), 229–245.
Gee is a prolific author and uses this article to continue to further his arguments in support of the use of videos games to foster deep learning and problem-solving abilities. He focuses on the game Portal and its use of play to foster problem-solving skills. Gee turns his attention to play and, in particular, its connection to discovery which is an integral part of video games. He draws a connection between play to perfect skills and its importance for preparing students for life. A life that includes the ability to learn and to communicate about things that students are interested in; concepts and ideas that may not be covered in a school. These concepts can be discussed with others with similar interests by using words. Words that become jargon shared by people with similar interests. The jargon that is created is new and may not be useful in the real world, but that is what language does. It adapts and changes to describe whatever world and experiences that one has – virtual or real.
Gee admits in this article that this is the first time that he has discussed video games as a form of play. He also draws a comparison between the play that cats do and the play that people do in video games. The use of ‘cat’ was appropriate for this comparison, and Gee seems to extend this analogy further by his meandering from one topic to the next in this article. He seems to be pulling a variety of information from many of his previous articles to include in this one. From play to games, to cats, to Pro-Ams, and to language, Gee wanders around a variety of points before ending the article with the importance of play and exploring new possibilities.
I have enjoyed reading this article amongst others by Gee because of his take on video games. In fact, I search for an article by Gee so that I could read more about his view of video games and education. I have begun to see video games as something more than just a waste of time because of his articles. Video games do have some redeeming factors in ways that I had not considered before. I agree with him that deeper learning can occur from one’s interest in video games and its content, and educators need to take a look at how players interact with video games and how players learn from them. It is more than learning from the game; it is also how the games create interest so that players want to dig deeper, collaborate, and keep at it. That is what schools need to do. The key, in my opinion, is helping students find what they are interested in and using that when teaching other concepts. Maybe that is why I enjoy teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in an adult education setting. I develop lessons based on the needs and interests of my students. Assessment is limited, but feedback is always given.
Gee, J. Learning and Games. The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Edited by Katie Salen. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 21–40.