In 19th century militaristic Prussia, the training of officers was notably ensured by the “kriegspiel”. This descendant of chess, which was probably originally designed to teach the basics of strategy to young noblemen, will give birth to the “wargame”. At the same time game video-oriented towards conflict simulation, the starting point for role-playing games and teaching tool used today in all the military academies, wargame is a major genre of digital video game media. More peaceful, Erasmus wondered in the 16th century about questions of education and, becoming aware of the pedagogical power of the game, he explained “that in everything, the greatest part of the unpleasantness comes from the imagination, which sometimes makes people feel bad, even where there is no pain. has none. The role of the tutor will be to exclude by all means this imagination and to make to study the mark of the game.
The New Pedagogy
For at this age, it is necessary to deceive them with seductive baits1 .» This approach, masking to better deceive, does not work in reality. On the contrary, it is better to rely on both the intelligence of the learner and the quality of the game. Nevertheless, it is important because it shows the antiquity of the ideas of ludic pedagogy and above all concentrates on many of the difficulties that inhabit it. As we can see, the interest in different forms of play from an educational perspective is not new. Nevertheless, it will be necessary to wait until the 20th century for these questions to be formalized and to take on a new dimension. place in educational debates thanks to a double impulse. That of the actors of the “New Pedagogy” for the pedagogical aspect, and the academic writings of Johan Huizinga (Homo Ludens, 1938) and Roger Caillois for the cultural component.
The latter are a good illustration of one the main pitfalls related to games in general and video games in particular, that of the association made by our culture from play to childhood, to the childish, to the derisory, to the useless. If they are tolerated during In the first years of compulsory education, they disappear very quickly from the school benches. At the acceptable manner of the comic strip to initiate reading but must subsequently give up the place to real books without pictures, the games must disappear as soon as the teaching becomes serious. We have to wait until the beginning of the 1990s to see educational video games really develop and even meet a great success with stars such as Adibou (Coktel Vision) or Carmen San Diego (Broderbund): the edutainment is born! Nevertheless, it remains limited to games simple, thought out around a school report with knowledge capable of convincing parents, the real buyers. The users, for their part, play with it during their early childhood and abandon it. for other video games, simply more fun.
Beginning of the 2000s
At the beginning of the 2000s, “serious games” and gamification appeared, to which one promises mountains and wonders, up to the craziest and most dangerous promise to replace teachers. After a decade of existence, mostly marked by media announcements and some interesting experiences, especially those carried out in the French-speaking world by ARTE or Le Monde, mainly internal training for large companies.
The mountain gave birth to a mouse with a final result very far from the initial promises, in spite of many interesting projects as you will see in the resources at the end of this chapter. The creators are not necessarily to blame, the cause is rather on the side of the system in place. In fact, only institutions buy these games from the studios and they arrive often with specifications that are heavy in content, unaware of the difficulties of the process. creating a video game that is long and expensive to create, with a budget that is often too low to compete with classic commercial games. The result is games that are regularly lame, technically unfinished, and too academic to be effective. This last point is probably the best illustration of the error. the impossibility of overcoming the complete contradiction of the “serious game” oxymoron, as an echo to Erasmus five centuries later.
Nevertheless, thanks to all of this, the attention paid to learning through video games is maintained and does not is now falling more, carried in particular by the interested efforts of the GAFAM and their “free” programs, we will come back to this, as well as the inventiveness of many teachers through the world, particularly around Minecraft (Mojang, 2009). After multiple false starts, the game video as a pedagogical tool now participates in educational debates. This chapter wishes to come back to the use of the game in an educational logic. Mainly the game video but also board games and role-playing games. It is based on my experience, 15 years of teaching in the secondary school including 3 years of pedagogical secondment to (www.forj.be) on this question. In addition to numerous schools and youth centers, this experience has also been built up at Quai10 where I coordinate the video game component.
Learning by doing
Video games are an interactive, participative media, a media that exists if you get involved, a media whose universes require the player to unfold, like the books that the words come together and develop sentences and then ideas through the reader’s action. Game designer Oscar Barda sums it up in a lapidary formula, “video games are aesthetics of doing. It could not be better said because, although it is always difficult to challenge a media and in particular video games, everyone will agree that all video games are characterized at least by an action, a do, from the player on the game, and often an answer. from the game, as a dialogue, giving rise to interaction.
In a pedagogical framework, participation in the construction of learning precisely roots it more deeply and develops a more positive relationship with that learning. These qualities allow through video games an active pedagogy, of doing, in which understanding is achieved through action, which allows the application of the theories exposed to theories of the game. learners, giving them meaning in a playful setting. For example, in the Sim City series of games (Maxis since 1989), where the player finds himself in the command of a city, the learning of general urban planning ideas takes place all over the world. simply by playing! And prior knowledge of these ideas is not even necessary, you only need to respond to the challenges posed by the game to try to find solutions, i.e. to solve problem situations.