New Behaviour: Observed before Trained

I was reading in a handy/cheap book called “50 Psychology Ideas You Really Need To Know” about theories of how we learn. What struck me was Albert  Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, particularly observational learning (aka modelling), which states that our first stage of learning new behaviour is through observation. We watch someone else perform a task, we see their success, and then we go into the next stage- we attempt to mimic, or practice. Now, a lot of people get all uppity about how video games are a bad influence. They teach us to be bad people: violent, aggressive, with no regard for other people. Well, if they didn’t already have a belief that this was a good idea, why would they even be drawn to play such games? We seem to have no problem with violent, aggressive behaviour in film (Actually, the book says this: “Hence the power of television and films to encourage behaviour change through the use of attractive, trustworthy actors doing particular things for specific rewards” p175). The argument seems to be, “Well, that’s just watching another person. In video games, you’re actually encouraged to BE that person!” Continue reading

The Magic Circle – The Imaginary Situation

The Magic Circle is a term I’ve seen and heard referenced by many a “ludologist,” game developer, games school teacher, and even games studies (ie, the discipline that looks at pre-elecrtonic games) academic. Well, the term seems to get thrown around a lot, seemingly without much first-hand knowledge or (dare I say it) understanding of the significance of the concept. As part of my research, I attempted to read Huizinga (I got lost somewhere amongst his descriptions of kites), but I was reading about the concept more than the name, and found that there’s more to the Magic Circle than I have been led to believe. Continue reading

SissyFight vs Left4Dead

I was thinking about SissyFight and Left 4 Dead.

One is set in a schoolyard, is free, and all players are totally anonymous.  It focuses on teaming up to take others down.  It’s not really suitable for kids, in my opinion.  But there’s nothing to stop 12 year old girls playing it.

The other has guns and blood, there are zombies attacking you, you have to pay to be able to log in, and you can look up information about players’ accounts.  It focuses on teaming up to keep everyone in the game, because you are likely to fail dismally if you don’t work together as a team.  Sure, you can be on the opposing team, but once again, you have to work with your team.

Which would you prefer your kids to play?  Violent, dark, teaches teamwork;  Clean, light, teaches bitching?