The 36 Steps

I have finally finished reading James Paul Gee‘s “What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy” where Gee gives an inspirational treatise on how the Education sector can look to the principles and methods employed by the games industry to get people playing their computer / video games and how the players learn, quite informally, a range of transferable skills and knowledge. Gee (2007, p. 215) reinforces his argument towards the end of the book:

I have first wanted to argue that good video games build into their very designs good learning principles and that we should use these principles, with or without games, in schools, workplaces or other educational sites.

This sentiment is shared by Malone (1980, p. 162) 20 years earlier who also felt that “these same ideas can be applied to other educational environments and life situations“. The “learning principles” that Gee speaks of are his “36 Learning Principles” (2007, pp. 221-227) that he slowly develops throughout the book.

I can, however, see a number of time poor, resource hungry teachers struggle with some of Gee’s suggestions, especially when they have to work with a rather prescriptive curriculum that changes ever-so-often according to the Government’s latest “blue skies” thinking or knee-jerk reaction to some kind of educational or societal failure that needs a “policy plaster” to cover it up.

So, for the next few weeks, I would like to post some of my thoughts around some of the themes and issues that had caught my interest whilst reading Gee’s book.

Watch this space…


Gee, J.P. (2007). What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy (Revised and Updated Edition). New York, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Malone, T.W. (1980) What Makes Things Fun to Learn? Heuristics for Designing Instructional Computer Games. Proceedings of the 3rd ACM SIGSMALL symposium and the first SIGPC symposium on Small systems table of contents. Palo Alto, California, United States.