Stuff I read:

Stevens, R., Satwicz, T., & McCarthy, L. (2008). In-game, in-room, in-world: Reconnecting video game play to the rest of kids’ lives. The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning9, 41-66.

What I think about it:

The impact of video games on child behavior has prompted strong reactions in people (re: Parents). For several decades, the potentially adverse effects of playing video games dominates focus of the debate while paying relatively little attention to the potential of these games to serve as effective tools for learning. In the article “In-game, in-room, in-world”, the authors set out to research the connection between playing video games and the other areas of the lives of the children who play them. In other words, they set out to determine the relationship between playing the game itself to the circumstances directly surrounding gameplay to behaviors and characteristics in other aspects of children’s lives (Stevens, Satwicz, & McCarthy, 2008). Based on these recordings and transcripts presented in the article, the direct and symbiotic “transfer” of gaming behavior to other areas of life is apparent (Stevens et al, 2008). As both a product of the surrounding world and a force that shapes it, games have enormous potential for children to acquire the skills essential for success.


My interest in the topic of this study began in 1997 on a somewhat dreary November morning. While riding to middle school with my mother and brother, I heard some devastating news on the radio about an allegedly direct connection between playing video games (Mortal Kombat) and violent behavior (Wilson v. Midway Games, Inc, 2002). I have never been much of a gaming enthusiast, but my occasional dabbling made me wonder about how I (and so many others) might be impacted by mere exposure to these products. In the present day, I wonder how educational games designed to enforce skill development in the classroom would have affected me. I longed to have exposure to a game in which students like me could “participate as gamers, producers, and learners,” (Kalen, 2008, p. 10). Would I have a better attitude about math and science topics? Would I be a better reader? Above all else, I started to wonder how one could adapt such beloved games to an academic setting (assuming there is an impact). This article was very satisfying for me in that it answered a lot of questions while raising others.

Of all the information provided in the article, arguably the most interesting and thought-provoking element is the concept of learning as a massive entity encompassing the video game itself or “in-game”, the “in-room” environment in which the game is played, and “in-world” activities outside of playing the game (Stevens et al, 2008). In other words, all of these elements are components of gaming that collectively provide learning opportunities. Each recorded instance of play reveals that gaming and real life are overlapping entities and not “separate worlds” (Stevens et al, 2008). The interactions between the children playing games reveal the potential of video games as learning tools by demonstrating the effectiveness (and essential role) of social collaboration in learning, the transferable skills for success in life provided by gaming, and the impact of gaming on identity formation.

After reading this article, I had (and still have) several questions in my head concerning video games as educational tools. If the “in-room” conditions are an integral part of the learning experience the contribute to gaming, how can we (as educators) ensure fairness? Not every child has an environment like the ones described in the study and, as the result, integrating gaming into formal education may put some at an unfair advantage. Furthermore, I wonder about how to research the specific aspects of gaming that are transferable. This information would hold the key to adapting video games in classrooms.



Salen, Katie. “Toward an Ecology of Gaming.” 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. 1–20. doi:10.1162/dmal.9780262693646.001

Stevens, R., Satwicz, T., & McCarthy, L. (2008). In-game, in-room, in-world: Reconnecting video game play to the rest of kids’ lives. The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning9, 41-66.

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