Listening to Interview with James Paul Gee

I’m listening to a podcast interview with game guru, James Paul Gee. I highly recommend giving it a listen [link]. Here are just a few notes that connected with me. The Interviewer, Barry Joseph, asked for some basics of what make games important to education. Gee said that there are two. The first is that games result in learning, because they make the player a knowledge producer, rather than consumer. There are obvious examples of this, such as building objects in Second Life. But…

To play a game, you have to think like a game designer — think like a producer.

The second element is the “Principal of situated meaning.”

Traditionally, we learned with words. To learn a new concept, we were given a definition to learn (a bunch of words). With games and virtual worlds, “You’ve got to deliver more than words, you’ve got to deliver the world that the words go with.” ((Gee, James Paul. “RezEd Podcast, Episode 12- James Paul Gee on Virtual Worlds and the Power of Situated Learning.” [Podcast Podcast] ResEd. 11 Aug 11: 12. ResEd. 12 Aug 2008 <>. ))

The conversation went on to discuss other issues and projects, notably Our Courts. The first paragraph of the summary reads,

Our Courts will be a free, interactive, web-based program and eventually a virtual 3D world designed to teach and engage middle-school students in civics. Through the lens of the judiciary, Our Courts will allow students to participate in realistic simulations of government and to grapple with relevant social issues. They will investigate and argue actual cases and controversies using real law, and they will view these cases from the perspective of the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government. Our Courts will also encourage young people to act, by voicing their opinions in their communities and to their elected representatives. ((“Project Summary.” Our Courts. Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University College of Teacher Education & Leadership, and Sandra Day O’Connor Project on The State of the Judiciary. 12 Aug 2008 <>. ))

There is also a good video intro from Justice O’Connor. What I found intriguing was how she came to understand, while attending the Games for Change Conference, that Game, in a sense, is another word for world, and that makes games an appropriate avenue for learning and education. I also liked the way that Gee admitted to being a baby boomer, and that he was getting out of the way and letting younger game developers actually design the Our Counts game.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.