We are now beginning week 4 of GamesMOOC and I've had an epiphany regarding gamification and language learning. For years I hesitated to include a games mod in my online course because I felt that I didn't have any experience on MMORPGs. However, as I tried out some of the single player games suggested in the GamesMOOC, I realized that for language teachers, the game itself doesn't have to be the where the language learning occurs. The language learning can be before, during or after any game.
Actually I had read Kyle Mawer and Graham Stanley's book, Digital Play, and have Mawer's blog of the same name in my RSS feeds. They suggest ways to use many genres of games such as "hidden objects", "dressing up", and "escape the room" for language learning, but I think that I was hung up on the multi-player idea and was blind to other ideas. Lee Sheldon's book The Multiplayer Classroom also discouraged me because the examples of coursework as games was directed at teachers who were real gamers and that's not me!
I think that I was under the impression that it was the vocabulary used in the games that would be important for L2 learners, but I have realized that the vocabulary can be pre-taught in the same way as pre-teaching vocabulary before any assignment. What can add to the language learning experience are the pre- and post-game activities which may be oral or written learning tasks about strategies used in the game, obstacles encountered, or whether someone liked the game or not and what could be done to make it more interesting.
In the past week of the GamesMOOC, however, guild officers have focused on the elements of a game that make it engaging, the basic game mechanics. I'm going to try to apply the rubric they provided to a number of the games in the Digital Play book and see how they measure up.