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Student Feature: 'Doctoral Thesis: Playing At Reality'

In today's student feature, part of Gamasutra's education coverage, we present a doctoral thesis by Alex Aitkin, presented to the Australian National University, and full...
In today's student feature, part of Gamasutra's education coverage, we present a doctoral thesis by Alex Aitkin, presented to the Australian National University, and fully titled: 'Playing at Reality: Exploring the Potential of the Digital Game as a Medium for Science Communication'. The thesis discusses the possibilities of popularizing science through 'sim' and other genres of games, and the overview explains: "Scientific simulations have... been much used by scientists to facilitate their own knowledge construction, and equally, both simulations and games have been used by science educators to facilitate knowledge construction on the part of their students... Moreover, the large non-academic literature discussing the nature of digital games (which are themselves both simulations and games) demonstrates that their ability to perform the above tasks (i.e. to re-create reality, model complex systems, and so forth) is what makes them enjoyable to play. Because the features of scientific and educational simulations and games that facilitate knowledge construction are the very same features that make digital games enjoyable to play, the player of a scientific-simulation-based digital game would be simultaneously gaining enjoyment and acquiring scientific knowledge. If science were widely communicated using digital games, therefore, then it would be possible for there to be a popular scientific culture." You can now read the full synopsis and download the full 335 page PDF for this doctoral thesis (no registration required.)

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