Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy” as Want to Read:
What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,242 ratings  ·  100 reviews
A controversial look at the positive things that can be learned from video games by a well known professor of education. James Paul Gee begins his new book with 'I want to talk about vide games- yes, even violent video games - and say some positive things about them'. With this simple but explosive beginning, one of America's most well-respected professors of education loo ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published May 7th 2004 by Palgrave MacMillan (first published May 16th 2003)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,242 ratings  ·  100 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy
MJ Nicholls
Mr. Gee has become the leading (or only) academic to discuss games in serious theoretical terms. This short and effective book gets to the gristle of the matter, drawing heavily on linguistics to show how the skills learnt and refined in games might revolutionise classroom education.

I support Gee’s findings entirely: the education system is in desperate competition with games, and unless new approaches—drawing on the problem-solving and independent thinking skills children learn from games—are t
Anderson Evans
Dec 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
I hate this book. Gee's attempt to turn video game playing into a metaphor for pedagogical betterment is an example of an entire generation's misunderstanding of this ludic narrative form. It is not Gee's fault that he is born into an analog world, but it bothers and surprises me that so many people still see this book as providing any kind of valid insights. In my view this is the kind of text used in the academy that creates the wrong kinds of dichotomies and inspires the wrong kind of argumen ...more
Sep 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I wanted to like this book. Really I did. As technology and the internet continue to infiltrate into every aspect of our lives, I hoped this book would help me to see how I could apply some of the video game design principles that obviously appeal so much to my students to my own teaching. After all, like most educators, my goals are to keep students engaged, and to master content through authentic learning experiences. But this is where I felt Gee's book fell short.

I found it immensely frustra
Eric Chow
Aug 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating read. This is the most provocative book I've read so far. It made me think back to how I have changed my teaching method over the years. Despite what people think of the way video games are wasting the brains of youth, there is much to learn from how the media is involving young people to form their identities, create affinity groups, and work out challenges in order to reach success. There will probably be much more scholarly work on this area to come, but Mr. Gee does a highly co ...more
Mar 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting, if a bit dry, primer on learning theory as seen through a pastime that has few defenders in academia.
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gaming, education
This was an excellent book, not perfect but the only one of its kind that I'm aware of. I would have given it 4.5 stars if the system allowed it, but I rounded up because of the groundbreaking nature of the book.

I was actually expecting more of a book on intentionally educational gaming, but Gee's book is true to its title (a rare enough characteristic that it caught me off guard). This book is about the games people play for entertainment, how they go about learning and navigating the mechanics
Katy Jean Vance
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kimberly Hirsh
Recommended to Katy Jean by: Level Up Book Club
Honestly, I didn't really appreciate this book. I read it for the Level Up Book Club (which I have had to disengage from since moving to Angola- I've been a little overwhelmed) and I am glad I did. I was really struck, though, by that feeling you get in grad school that somebody took a whole bunch of really big words and applied to it to something to make it sound more important. Basically, what saved this book from a 2 star rating was the conclusion, where Gee states that his goal was not to pr ...more
Mario Russo
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: game-design
Since it's been a while since the last game design book I've read, decided to pick this one despite the lower reviews... I can't say it has added much. It feels redundant at times, and overall it doesn't look like it is going anywhere aside from essays of experiences of a linguist playing video games. I mean, the book is not worthless, and since there is not a vast bibliography of Game Design, it may be worth a read when you have finished the "top grade" of game design books. ...more
Feb 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm just reading this for an exam (I chose the book myself, i had bought it a few years back because I thought the topic interesting). I must say, as much as I wanted to like it, it it horribly written. Most parts are very dry and unnecessarily laden with scientific jargon. It is also overly wordy. The ideas themselves are excellent and interesting, but written in a way that exactly the people who could and should make use of them will probably never finish the book. It also lacks practical exam ...more
Jul 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers, video game makers, gamers, cognitive psychologists
This book is about how video games are becoming a new type of literacy. The book goes on to discuss how video games are very good at teaching users how to do complex things quickly, and that some of the techniques employed by video games could be adopted by educators to teach children.

This is reminiscent of how children were trained to be soldiers with video games in the book Ender's Game.

It is a dense book to read, it is somewhere between a textbook and nonfiction. Despite the fact that it is h
Jul 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Work is play and play is work...this is something I started because of my new job, but it's also something I would read for fun as well. I like the fact that Gee (now in his 60s I think) was a hardcore linguistics-type professor, then one day watched his toddler son beat him at a video game and decided to switch fields to study video games and its social/cultural/learning implications. A few years later, he started publishing seminal article and books which really helped validate the field of ed ...more
Leonard Houx
I learned more about education from this book than I have perhaps any other. Strangely, though, Gee never addresses the fact that video game players play roles that are mostly incompatible with or at best irrelevant to most subjects in education. In other words, video game users may enjoy video games more than tradition education not because it provides richer, better-structured learning experiences, but because it, in an imaginative realm, allows them blow up shit.
Andrea Lakly
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've been reading this for a project I'm doing for grad school, and I've enjoyed it quite a lot. Gee writes about how video games get people to learn. It's not so much a manifesto for the power of gaming in the classroom (though there's plenty of that) as it is an explanation of how effective learning happens. ...more
Alison Forde
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guess what - it's not just a waste of time! ...more
Brian Menue
Sep 20, 2013 rated it liked it
My review of this book is posted about Fandom Philosophy, a site that takes games seriously and critically: ...more
Marc Taub
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though I read this for a class the book really opened my eyes to how video games have a huge learning component. Very well done. I loved the examples using actual games.
Nathan Albright
Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge-2019
Sometimes attempting to do more than one has to do leaves one achieving less than one would have by being more modest, and such is the case with this book.  Ultimately, this author is trying to simultaneously push two agendas in this book:  to demonstrate the legitimacy of video games as a domain that can provide insight to pedagogical efforts and simultaneously to promote a leftist view of education and relativistic morality.  Unfortunately, the author's ambitions in the latter category hinder ...more
Jun 23, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2011-12
I originally picked this book up as a general research tool for my Civic Engagement group. I had anticipated it would be a book that detailed all the reasons video games aren't terrible for young minds, that I could pull a few quotes out of it and be done. Once I got into it (and once I actually read the title a little closer!) I realized this book was doing something else that was far more valuable to teaching and curriculum development and my service overall.

Gee's research began after he picke
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having grown up playing games, joining player communities, and trying to make my own as I went through the school system, I felt this book was validating but eye-opening, and I'm glad to have been exposed to these theories of learning and thought that match and extend my experiences.

I've seen calls for 'gamification' online a while ago based on points or other incentives games use to say, evade some demoralizing or ineffective evaluative systems in schools. I don't think it ever took off and eve
Kaj Sotala
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very nice discussion about video games in light of various academic theories of learning. I particularly liked this point:

"The fact that human learning is a practice effect can create a good deal of difficulty for learning in school. Children cannot learn in a deep way if they have no opportunities to practice what they are learning. They cannot learn deeply only by being told things outside the context of embodied actions. Yet at the same time, children must be motivated to engage in a good d
Sheila Bracken
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I chose to read this book because it seemed different than the typical fare. Also, as a non-gamer surrounded by gamers, at home and at work, I felt like I needed to make an effort to understand the appeal as well as the learning potential. Some of the key points that spiral throughout the book are that learning should be both challenging yet doable. How people cannot learn in a deep way if they are not willing to commit themselves to the learning in terms of time, effort, and active engagement. ...more
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This seminal work on video games and learning theory inspired and drives my dissertation research. Gee began this intellectual path with the publication of Social Linguistics and Literacies (1990), which developed into "A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies" (1996), a foundational work of the New Literacies Movement.

The 1st ed. Of this book was published in 2003, when game design was quickly growing as an academic deiscipline. Since then Gee has revised the book and refined his ideas on how good video
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: education, nonfiction
Excellent topic of discussion, but this didn't read well for me. I kept wondering about the ideal audience:
Gamers? No… far too dry, academic, slow-paced, and full of jargon.
Academics? Well… only if they are already curious about and open-minded to video games. But then you'd be preaching to the choir.
Teachers? Same as above. The majority of my teacher colleagues would pick this up, start reading, then get tired of slogging through the admittedly poor organization. Overall it just isn't enough to
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I get what he's saying, I really do. But I feel like... Teachers don't have the same freedoms as videogame designers and all of the various ways he said "Schools kill student curiosity" really started to irk me. Because I know a lot of great teachers and they don't contribute to that.

Principles he mentioned such as "Multiple access points to learning" and "Mistakes are a part of the process," well, those are not necessarily revolutionary for a lot of teachers, either.

In the end, the principles
Farid Tabatabaie
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The only reason I’ve given it 4 stars instead of 5 is that it was either not edited at all or very poorly edited. (At least the edition I read was). Replete with typos and grammatical errors. Otherwise a very good read.
794.8019 GEE
Active, Critical Learning, not passive.

用 VIDEO GAME 从语言学家的角度阐述什么是好的教学方法和教学环境和好的 Literacy 学习 。评价现行的教育机制和教学方法。总结36条原则。
e.g Knowledge transfer, DI(Direct instruction) , whole Language.
Author is a linguist before doing education research later.
After reading this book, you would know if 背单词的好处和坏处?
Pro: efficient to how massive vocabulary in a short time.
Cons: these vocabulary is learned not in situated environment, therefore their meaning is shallow, with less connecti
Shawnie Echeverry
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Found this book after reading many excerpts from Gee’s writings, and really enjoyed it. I think any teacher or aspiring teacher should read this book.
Eric Susak
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
In a somewhat controversial book—What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy—for its time, James Paul Gee, a reputable sociolinguist and expert in literacy and learning, defends the educational benefits of video games, “yes, even violent video games,” he says. Through this defense, Gee outlines 36 principles of learning that demonstrate how an individual best develops literacy. Although Gee proclaims that this book focuses on video games, it seems as though video games are just ...more
Jan 31, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (2007) by James Paul Gee might be one of the most valuable and timely titles I have read in recent years. Coming to video games late in life, initially to "help" his son with gaming, Gee began to see connections to his professional life as an educator in the virtual worlds created by video games.

Specifically, Gee identified 36 learning principles often found in the best (most challenging, most fun, best designed, most popular) video g
Jan 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, non-fiction
A year after my brother-in-law lent me this book, I finally picked it up and finished it. I'm glad I did. The author made a very interesting and convincing argument that video games teach content to their users/players a lot more effectively than most schools teach content to their users/students. So this point of this book was to figure out how video games do what they do and how we can translate those learning principles to school.

And my description tells you no more about the book than its t
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
  • The Medium is the Massage
  • Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World
  • A Theory of Fun for Game Design
  • Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames
  • Living with Complexity
  • Man, Play and Games
  • Cinema 1: The Movement-Image
  • Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives
  • Being Fishkill
  • The Americans
  • Walking
  • Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
  • Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture
  • Dungeons & Dreamers: A Story of how Computer Games Created a Global Community
  • Killing Monsters: Our Children's Need For Fantasy, Heroism, and Make-Believe Violence
  • Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter
  • The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation Is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories
See similar books…
James Gee is a researcher who has worked in psycholinguistics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, bilingual education, and literacy. Gee is currently the Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies at Arizona State University. Gee is a faculty affiliate of the Games, Learning, and Society group at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and is a member of the National Academy of Educ ...more

News & Interviews

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
56 likes · 9 comments
“An academic discipline, or any other semiotic domain, for that matter, is not primarily content, in the sense of facts and principles. It is rather primarily a lived and historically changing set of distinctive social practices. It is in these practices that 'content' is generated, debated, and transformed via certain distinctive ways of thinking, talking, valuing, acting, and, often, writing and reading.” 3 likes
More quotes…