Thank you ISI Florence and The Umbra Institute. My new article on video game-based learning, (Digital) Narrow Streets of Cobblestone: Game-Based Learning as a Preparatory Device & Simulation Strategies for Study Abroad Programs, appeared today on the new issue of Beyond – The ISI Florence & Umbra Institute Journal of International Education:
For decades now, video games have been a pervasive part of our culture (NBCNews.com, 2013). About half of all American adults play video games (Duggan,
2015), while 97% of teen boys and 83% of teen girls also play video games
(Anderson & Jiang, 2018).
The potential for utilizing gaming in learning has been explored in a variety of
fields, including language acquisition (e.g., Reinders, 2012). Some commercially available cinematic video games are fully-interactive multimedia experiences. Thus, including such games in the curriculum as realia (Spurr, 1942; Dlaska, 2003) can help students reinforce, and expand upon, materials they learn through traditional methods. Realia reinforce second/foreign language (F/L2) acquisition through development of specific personal interests. Cinematic games, similar in nature to movies, also add agency, which improves learning (Deters et al., 2014). They also involve problem-solving and critical thinking that can be applied to group interaction, all of which is particularly conducive to learning (Wenger, 1998) and F/L2 acquisition (Nunan, 1992). Video games can
contribute to the goal of transforming our students into life-long learners of (a)
F/L2 language(s), a process explored by CALL (e.g., Smith, 1997).
This article is a case study on teaching practices with video game-based learning, its benefits in the foreign language classroom and, in a more general sense,
in second/foreign language & culture acquisition (F/L2). I argue that utilizing
video games as part of F/L2 experiences, including in the different phases of
the study abroad experience (pre-departure, during the program, and post-departure), can enhance the learning of F/L2 language and culture. Video games
are simulations that challenge, based on repetition, which involve players at a
deep level, thus affording agency. In recent cinematic “AAA” commercial video
game titles, the simulation aspect engages players in a dialogue-based, narrative context that can prepare students for real-life conversations. The article
also serves as a practicum, by providing suggestions on how to use commercial video games to enhance language & culture acquisition as part of independent, autonomous students’ learning that educators and administrators
can foster, structured learning experiences such as study abroad (including
pre- and post-departure), and courses.
Keywords: Game-based learning, CALL, CAI, gamification, foreign languages,
second language acquisition, SLA, video game-based learning, VGBL, gaming,
non-serious gaming, Italian, Italian as a Second Language, Assassin’s Creed,
Tomb Raider, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Sony PlayLink.
* This research was supported in part by a fellowship and an award from the Saint Louis University Reinert Center
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