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Gaming the Game: A Study of the Gamer Mode in Educational Wargaming
Swedish National Defence College, Department of Military Studies, Command & Control Studies Division.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1019-8933
2012 (English)In: Simulation & Gaming, ISSN 1046-8781, Vol. 43, 118-132 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A risk associated with the use of games in training and education is that players "game the game," instead of focusing on their learning goals. The term gamer mode is proposed to describe this attitude. A player with a gamer-mode attitude strives to achieve goals that are optimal for winning the game, but suboptimal with respect to educational objectives. In this study of cadets playing an educational wargame to learn ground warfare tactics, the author examined occurrences of gamer mode. The results show that gamer mode on and off emerged in all analyzed sessions. Cadets understanding of the wargame was different from what the instructors expected. This study discusses why it is important to avoid situations where the gamer mode emerges and also speculates on the sources that generate this attitude-the game itself, the educational setting, and the participants' previous experiences.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 43, 118-132 p.
Keyword [en]
educational games, educational objectives, educational wargame, gamer mode, gamer-mode attitude, gaming the game, ground warfare tactics, learning objectives, military education, understanding of wargame, undesirable effects, wargaming, winning optimization
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Ledningsvetenskap
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-2828DOI: 10.1177/1046878111408796OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-2828DiVA: diva2:560014
Available from: 2012-10-11 Created: 2012-10-11 Last updated: 2017-01-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Gamer mode: Identifying and managing unwanted behaviour in military educational wargaming
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gamer mode: Identifying and managing unwanted behaviour in military educational wargaming
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Games are rule-governed systems at the same time as they are fiction, simulating or representing a real or an abstract world. This defining characteristic may create for different forms of tensions, that is, at different times players may focus on the rules, the fiction or on both during game play. In military education with games, this poses a problem when the learner becomes too focused on the rules, trying to win at any price rather than taking the representation and what it implies in terms of permissible behaviour seriously. In here we attempt to understand how participants in a wargaming situation act out this tension by studying the interaction between the player and the game in military tactical training.

The results first of all confirm that there is a tension – there are occasions where players are mainly concerned with winning the wargame, disregarding what the theme is meant to represent. I propose the term gamer mode to refer to this player orientation: players in gamer mode have an extreme rule-focused interaction, meaning they behave rationally with respect to game rules but irrationally with respect to the portrayed real-life situation they are training for. Gamer mode can probably occur for many reasons. This thesis documents two contributing factors. The first concerns whenever the game does not match players’ expectation on mimicking warfare. In these situations players may find that the game breaks the fragile contract of upholding an accurate representation of warfare. The other factor that may lead to gamer mode are game design features such as explicit reward structures or victory conditions.

To remedy the situation, the instructor can, in real-time, actively support players’ orientation towards the game and explain in-game events, keeping them on track. When gamer mode occur I argue that the conditions for learning are compromised as the gaming activity becomes its own learning subject, blurring and overshadowing the learning objective. Although the results suggest that gamer mode is mainly detrimental to learning I conclude that gamer mode is a natural way students will approach games and as such, needs to be dealt with by the instructor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. viii, 103 p.
Series
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2014:18
Keyword
Gamer mode, military education, wargaming, game-based learning
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Ledningsvetenskap
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-5106 (URN)978-91-7595-399-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-01-23, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-12-19 Created: 2014-12-19 Last updated: 2014-12-19Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttp://sag.sagepub.com/content/43/1/118.abstract

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