This post will look at the educational potential of Okami, and some lessons to be learned from a game mostly based on entertainment. Given the game’s roots appeared to be from Japanese folklore, and what we could learn from it, I started thinking about one of Salen’s question in her 2007 work about:
How does gaming act as a point of entry or departure for other forms of knowledge, literacies, and social organization?
Video games tend to generally be a visual experience; thus, visual learners are going to love this medium. Tactile, or more physical-based learners have a better chance to learn with 3D video games like the Wii and the Kinect, better than mechanical, button-based games of the past. What’s going to help me learn to dance, pushing a sequenced set of buttons on a controller, like playing Dance Dance Revolution with a playstation controller, or performing the dance in the Kinect’s Dance Central? Okami was closer to 3D games compared to other push=-button based RPG’s in that Okami had a pen-like behavior for the joystick.
Repetition of facts, ideas, can also help with different kinds of learners. Games with their reward mechanisms, can reinforce and repeat facts, and ideas. Games can also serve for players to be educated on the language of a discipline or social organization. I could feasibly learn more Japanese kanji if it were incorporated more into the dialogue.
Can games teach the nature of social organizations and interactions? Can kids know about U.S. Government and how it actively works, through a game? Okami in particular wasn’t strong with social organizations, but games like the Sims, where virtual characters run elections, come to mind. I’m a little more skeptical about this claim, however. Social organizations involve dynamic, complex interactions that are in the moment. Video games, with their set rules and structures, can’t really capture the richness and dynamic nature that social organizations, especially informal ones, have.