I feel like I have read at least portions of this chapter by John Gee, or variations on it. Maybe I haven’t, or I didn’t read that close the first time around. This time I dug in and pulled the thing apart. Learning and Games breaks down how we interact with video games, what kind of behaviors we display when playing them and how these relate to learning.

Gee describes how people learn from experience and the elements of game design that are conducive to learning. The main crux of the chapter is something he calls the Situated Learning Matrix which attempts to argue how traditional learning is a direct conveyance of content while video games subordinate the content to be taught via something else which I would call indirect learning.

Gee’s Matrix

The matrix consists of several ideas as Gee summarizes, “learning moves from identity to goals and norms, to tools and technologies, and only then to content.” Each of these parts inform the broader context of situated learning where other factors such as emotion and motivation come into play. That is much more convoluted than reading, or listening to something then taking a test about that something. The argument here is that “content divorced from the Situated Learning Matrix is inert and unable to be applied in practice, however much the student may pass multiple choice tests.”


Diagram of the Situated Learning Matrix. Learning any content is a result of, or dependent on the various interactions and behaviors that are argued to be essential for effective learning.

I could relate to many of the ideas expressed like the “conditions that experiences need to meet in order to be truly useful for learning.” I have experienced goal oriented problem solving, interpreting experience, receiving immediate feedback, skills practice to improve my interpretations, and learning from others’ experiences. There is a lot of theory here that flew ever so freely over my head.

This chapter was an effort to read close. It was a lot to process and I am still chewing on the material. I had the idea to create separate posts to explore each parts of Gee’s ideas about this situated learning matrix. Maybe I can alleviate some of my ignorance by using examples from my own gameplay experiences.

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