Digital Game-Based Learning
||Author: Marc Prensky|
List Price: $29.95
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Publisher: McGraw-Hill Trade (12 December, 2000)
Sales Rank: 59,593
Average Customer Rating: 4.27 out of 5
Customer ReviewsRating: 4 out of 5
Interesting overview but bland critques spoil the effect
This is a very timely book in my opinion. Prensky gives a reasonable overview of trends in games and several likely future developments. Copious lists of heuristics and tips are offered to the reader. Almost all the case studies have at least one useful insight - however many case studies drag on too long and are in need of substantial editing. Moreover, at least 50% of the case studies relate to corporate programmes which are not accessible to the general public - or the research community.
Prensky's writing style is intensely personal and his judgements are often based on subjective assesments. Worst of all, he turns over large sections of the book to game designers that uncritically trumpet their products. There is still something of value here, once you read between the lines.
In summation I found the reviews of trends and products useful. His explanation for what keeps a game's audience and market together (content) resonates with my own experiences. The book fell down by being mistitled. It is not about game based learning but about games and the opportunities for game based learning. Do no expect to build a 'learning' game from what is here - just not academic enough. The book has little if any information on existing game engines and how they might accommodate learning initiatives which is a major shortcoming. Secondly, many of the major points in the book flow from anecdotes and opinions. It is hard to assess their worth, but experience can be a better teacher on occasions than a library. Thirdly, the book plugs Prensky's own work fairly relentlessly. Good for him but it creates an imbalance in the presentation.
Overall, I found much in the book that was interesting and useful to know. If the opinion pieces were supported by more complete referencing it would be an excellent text.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Digital version not well done
Always enjoyed the hardcoved edition (5 stars). Recently downloaded the Adobe Acrobat version and found it lacking the functions to efficiently read it on a mobile device with Acrobat Reader for Palm Devices. Publisher failed to tag the file to allow jumps from the Table of Contents to the referenced page. The pagination is also 18 pages off. I would not recommend the digital version if there are plans to read it with a mobile device.
Rating: 2 out of 5
This book reads like a wired magazine article. Its envagelical tone betrays a decidely unacademic agenda. At times it feels like you are reading a brochure for Prensky's company rather than an objective evaluation of the capabilities and possiblities of Game-Based Learning. It rarely considers contrarian points of view and when it does, only in passing. That being said, it does contains some interesting ideas. Unfortunately, there are not enough ideas to warrant the book's heft, and the few ideas that it does contain are elaborated and repeated ad naseum. Prensky is unabashed by this and readily admits it in the intro: "You will find thoughout this book that many of the key ideas are repepated and illustrated in different ways and examples. This repetition is deliberate. Winston Churchhill counseled that "if you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-- a tremendous whack ". It appears that this quote is more of a justification though than a reason because he later ironically criticizes such reduncacy in corporate training materials: "There was at one time a company that specialized in reducing the length of corporate tapes so they could be listened to more easily. They were typically able to get an hour's lecture or speech down to 10 or even 5 minutes of real content." I feel that the same could easily be said for this book through more aggressive editing. Furthermore, the various chapters often feel disjointed as if they were constructed as atomic articles (or pieced together from such), rather than as parts of an integrated whole. And I am generous in attributing the original source to articles. My suspicion, based on Prensky's copious overuse of bullet-lists, are that many of the chapters had their odious origins within powerpoint slides. He also too often relies on quotations as support for his views when the people being quoted are not credible academic authorities but rather people running companies with a similar agenda to Prensky.