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Situated Learning in Video Games

Situated Learning in Video Games

The idea or notion behind situated learning (Anderson, Reder, & Simon, 1996), is that learning takes place within the same context in which it will be applied or useful. This principle is extremely widespread in video games. In video games, what is taught to the player or what the player needs to know to progress, is often situated within the same context in which it will be needed and useful.

For example, there is usually some sort of immediate or imminent challenge where the player must utilize what they were just taught in order to move on. Below is an example from Bandai Namco's recent RPG Ni No Kuni II. As you are about to be attacked by guards, the player is given a weapon and the game teaches you the basics of combat which you will use for the remainder of the game.

Situated Learning in Ni No Kuni II

There is usually some sort of immediate or imminent challenge where the player must utilize what they were just taught in order to move on.

This is very different from school, where learning often takes place outside of the context in which the knowledge can really be applied or be useful, and is often disassociated with people's objectives or goals. Additionally, because video games give the player the tools to solve a problem just in the "nick of time" as the problem is being introduced, the meaning or purpose of the learning is almost always immediately recognizable. This is also quite different from school, where students tend to question the relevance of a topic or ask "why are we learning this?"

Situated learning in Mario + Rabbids battle Kingdom

Lastly, the knowledge or what is taught to the player in a video game is constantly being applied and used throughout the entire game. In all of the above examples, what the game teaches you remains relevant, as you're required to remember this knowledge for future challenges for the rest of the game. In a way, this means that whatever you learn in a video game becomes intrinsic to gameplay, and is necessary to one's goal of completing the game.

Zone of Proximal Development (Challenge) in Video Games

Zone of Proximal Development (Challenge) in Video Games

DragonBox Algebra 12+

DragonBox Algebra 12+