The ESA recently interviewed college professor and researcher Constance Steinkuehler about her work with and admiration for video games. Pixelkin has spoken with Dr. Steinkuehler before. She always has a lot of interesting and informative perspectives on the subject. The ESA interview is definitely worth checking out for yourself, but here are some gems:
“…I dropped everything and started getting into games…I couldn’t believe the level of sophisticated group work. And that they were paying subscriptions to do work that was so far beyond what we would ever try to do in a lab…I wasn’t the only person who suddenly, around the early 2000s, started taking note of not just how complex game titles were but how complex their communities are.
“It’s hard to be discouraged about youth culture or technology when you actually study what people do with technology, especially games…A preparation of understanding how to make creative interactive technologies like games prepares you for a much broader set of employment opportunities and creative endeavors.”
Steinkuehler mentions that she’s playing LEGO Pirates of the Carribean with her 5-year-old. And she plays Don’t Starve with her husband and 7-year-old. Together they’re making notes and lists of crafting resources. This is a great way to battle the “summer slide” wherein a lot of kids slip out of the learning mode and forget what they’ve been practicing in school. “My kid has his notebook out and is taking lab-based field notes and asking questions on what things do and do not work,” says Steinkuehler. “It’s hilarious. It sounds like I’m promoting my own line of research but my kids are engaged in reading, writing, math.”
Steinkuehler’s work involves researching cognition and learning in online games. She’s specifically interested in the different forms of science, literacy, and sociocultural skills kids and young adults learn in online play. Steinkuehler currently holds the office of Senior Policy Analyst at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where she advises on policy related to games and learning/impact. (She’s on leave from her normal position as Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches courses on video games, research methods, “and the ‘smart’ side of pop culture.”) She’s also co-director of the Games Learning Society, and executive director at the Higher Education Video Game Alliance.