StarCraft, a real-time strategy game developed by Blizzard Entertainment, has been labeled by many of its participants as the chess of the twenty-first century.
Kow and colleagues describe a study of StarCraft II, a real-time strategy game, and the community surrounding it. They selected the game “as a research site because of its intellectual demands, academic relevance, and networked peer support driving players to strive to learn and achieve higher levels of gaming skills” (p. 5). They wanted to understand “both the design and uptake of the game within the context of connected learning” (p. 5), so they interviewed both players and members of the game-development team. They found that players and developers both brought up learning in the interviews.
They found that StarCraft II is a learning environment in which many features of connected learning are present:
- Interest-powered learning
- Openly-networked supports, provided both my the designers of the game and the community of players
- Social interaction and expertise that translates across contexts (home, school, public IRL, online)
They found that “several design features of the game…. enable both the competitive and productive practices at play within the community” and that participation in the game “offers participants a chance to develop soft skills that seem highly relevant to future work environments, characterized by constant competition and nonstop learning” (p. 43).
“…at the core of learning that takes place within StarCraft II is a model in which players are connected by media content developed by players themselves, using the game editing tools or other social network tools, as well as an active and peer-supported social network.” (p. 5)
“…continuous participation within an ecosystem of technology-centered learning circles can help deepen the participants’ expertise and social skills.” (p. 43)
“Players can move at their own pace, take advantage of a diverse set of resources created by other players, and are invited to contribute their own knowledge and expertise.” (p. 44).