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Games, Simulations and Simulation Games : theoretical underpinnings

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The "Simulation and Gaming Environments (SAGE) for Learning" Project, funded by the SSHRC-INE program, has assembled a network of research teams from across Canada to undertake projects in three applied research domains and three foundation research domains. The application domains are: • Games: activities in artificial settings that do not mimic reality, in which players compete to "win" using rules; • Simulation games: activities in simplified dynamic models of reality, in which players compete to win using rules; • Simulations: activities in simplified, dynamic but accurate models of reality, in which players explore and practice but do not compete. The foundation domains, which support all application domains, are: • Conceptual Foundations: systematic review of the literature on of the evolving terminology, concepts, and understanding of SAGE impacts on learning, as well as development of conceptual models to guide research in other domains; • Methodologies and Tools: identification, development, application, testing, and application of new research and evaluation methodologies and tools for technology-intensive SAGEs in all application domains; • Technologies: identification, development, application and evaluation of technologies that support learning in all SAGE application domains. These research projects are documenting current levels of knowledge and means for evaluating simulations and gaming environments for learning. In this paper which focuses on the Conceptual Foundations project, the research team initiated work based on the hypothesis that the reason research results on the impact of games and simulations on learning are generally vague and inconclusive is due to the absence of clear-cut definitions for these concepts. To correct this methodological weakness, an extensive literature review was undertaken covering the last five years which isolated the essential attributes of games, simulation and simulation games. This paper will present the research objectives, the documentary databases analyzed, the text analysis methodology used, the obtained results and the essential attributes of games, simulation and simulation games. A period for questions and answers will conclude this presentation.
Contact: Louise Sauvé, Télé-université / SAVIE,
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