These days, more and more research is being conducted on games and game design for learning. In fact, two PHD dissertations have been written on Gamestar Mechanic. You can find them on our site here.
The first is written by Robert Torres at NYU in 2009. Torres studied how participating in a “learning ecology generated and mediated by Gamestar Mechanic” improves the player’s ability to foster systems-thinking. Torres breaks systems thinking down into subskills, talks about why systems thinking is important, and connects it explicitly to game design. It’s pretty cool stuff.
The next dissertation is written by Alex Games (his real last name, but pronounced gam-ez) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009. Games writes about how Gamestar Mechanic helps children learn language and literacy skills important for the 21st century. He also researches how children communicate using the “language of game” to help designers create more effective game-based learning environments. The connection between literacy and game design is a fascinating one. Be sure to check out the paper!
I’m especially interested in academic studies on games and learning. As a classroom teacher myself, it’s always a good feeling to know that a tool that I’m using is backed by research.