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Learning and the E-Generation by Lee Farrington-Flint, Jean D. M. Underwood

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Chapter Eight Games, Learning and Education

Introduction

There is little doubt that we are a nation addicted to gaming, in one sense or another. Whether it is Angry Birds on the iPhone, interacting with the Sims on the laptop or indulging in mayhem in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, gaming is hugely popular with a substantial proportion of the global population. This growth has been possible as a result of wider access to broadband connectivity, advances in technology and relative reductions in costs. In 2008, in the United States, the Pew Internet and American Life Project surveyed 1,102 12 and 17 year olds and found that that 97 per cent – both boys (99%) and girls (94%) – played some type of digital game (Lenhart, Kahne, et al., 2008). De Freitas and Liarokapis (2011) showed that the video-game industry sold 84.64 million Nintendo Wii consoles, 50 million Microsoft Xbox 360s and 50 million Sony PlayStation 3s. In 2006 the income of the global online gaming market had reached $4.5 million; this amount tripled in the following 5 years and is predicted to reach $82 billion by 2017 (see de Freitas & Liarokapis, 2011). While the economic benefits of this thriving industry are there for all to see, the psychosocial benefits, particularly within educational contexts, are hotly disputed.

Video games have gone from being seen as irrelevant or dangerous, to being the darlings of the media and educational industries. There is ...

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