Discovering the Awesomeness of Multiplayer Video Games – Interview with Seann Dikkers, PhD – SDP #18

[podcast] In 2011, 97% of youth in American played some type of video game each week!  Gaming is trending across all generations with millions of people “running into” the world of video games – including the young as well as the elderly. Video games, for example, are being used in senior care homes to refresh memory, build hand-eye coordination and foster social interaction through games of Wii Bowling.

 

Listen to this episode at:  https://tinyurl.com/SDP18-AUDIO

 

VIDEO GAME IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF MEDIA  

Dr. Dikkers regards video gaming the same as other media such as movies and music.  It has become part of our society and just like heavy metal music, is not the causal factor of violent behaviors.  In fact, as game play increases violent behaviors decrease.  Seann examines digital game design and teaching and learning.  What can we learn from video games to provide a meaningful experience in classrooms? 

DEBUNKED THE RHETORIC OF VIDEO GAMES AS MOLDING YOUTH THAT WILL THEN CARRY OUT ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST OTHERS  

Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do is a book by Dr. Lawrence Kutner & Dr. Cheryl K. Olson.  In it, they draw various conclusions that run contrary to the rhetoric of some politicians and activists. Along with psychiatrist Eugene V. Beresin, M.D., Kutner and Olson are co-directors of the Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media, a division of the department of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

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GAMERS REGULATE THE GAMING ENVIRONMENT  

Seann shares that this happens in digital spaces where people gather to do fun things and the human nature is to produce systems within the social group to manage abhorrent behavior of individuals.  This point is underscored by a story Dr. Dikkers shares of playing recess football as a child and the natural emergence of group rules for playing the game.  Some video games allow for other users to ignore players and if a gaming environment becomes toxic, it dissolves and gamers migrate to other game spaces or castaways reinvent themselves through new avatars and identities and re-enter the gaming world with improved etiquette.  Dr. Dikkers adds that there are websites, such as Common Sense Media, that adults can access to obtain reviews of games. 

GAMERS COMMIT TO THE GOOD OF THE GUILD  

Seann shared a story of how his own children participated in a gaming social group and felt a strong commitment to be accountable to the group.  If they couldn’t be available to participate in a group game, it was important to them to notify other players so they could plan accordingly for the multi-player activity. 

TEACHING ETHICAL DECISION-MAKING & PARENTING IN THE DIGITAL AGE  

Seann shares that many games are about ethical decision-making and each decision has an impact on the overall storyline.  This is common among role playing games and those are actually the games that Dr. Dikkers enjoy playing side-by-side with his children so the video game is a medium for a social relationship and discussions about choices and consequences.  He shares that one rule in his household was that playing games must be a family activity.  He also limited weekly time spent gaming for his children and notes that when his children were younger, he had a rule that they wouldn’t do anything in a game that they wouldn’t do in real life. 

PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THAT GAMES ARE NOT REAL  

Just as when we read books, we don’t run out and do what the characters do.  Dr. Dikkers describes this as psychosocial moratorium, or when a person takes a break from “real life” to actively search for their identity.  He recalls times when people burned comic books for fear that they would inculcate youth to a belief set of acting being the rules of society.  Host Dr. Perrodin adds that as a Wisconsinite, thousands of youth and adults are hunters, but that sport doesn’t make them prone to kill people. 

HOW DO SCHOOLS ADOPT GAMES? 

Dr. Dikkers indicated that this question is the center of current research in gaming in educational setting.  Teachers are learning digital literacy.  To facilitate expansion of teachers’ gaming knowledge base, he urges educators to watch how games are designed, such as World of Warcraft, to look at what roles students are given and what missions they are given.  Lesson plans could follow how game designers capture the attention of children and then build the child’s skills.  Seann shared that schools are able to set up intra-district servers to house games in order to allow students to game with each other, but not with the entire outside world.  He re-iterates that Minecraft is a very popular game to use in schools and can be the medium by which to foster curriculum about math, reading, science, problem solving, etc.

MINECRAFT FOR EVERY STUDENT  

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Dr. Dikkers talks of working with schools that now have Minecraft video game accounts for all students.  He notes a public school in Oregon, Wisconsin that focused on teachers learning technology and designing lesson plans integrated with technology.  Teacher training is first and simply not some assumed “acquired competency” that happens after dumping technology into classrooms without teachers knowing how to use it.  There must be a lesson that is connected to the game for it to be meaningful to school curriculum. 

FOLLOW DR. PERRODIN

David will respond to discussion thread comments or questions & also to emails.  The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD. 

ENDORSEMENTS

Opinions are those of the host and guests and do not reflect positions of The 405 Media or supporters of “The Safety Doc Podcast”.  The show is curse free and adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward productive discourse and debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety.  

Websites / Resources Discussed During this Podcast

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