Session 4b: Education & Psychology – University of Copenhagen

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Session 4b: Education & Psychology

Board Games in Learning Environments

Thu 18 May, 10:30 - 11:00 (KUA3, Room 4A.1.60)

Dr Kira van Bebber-Beeg & Katarina Herde
Faculty of Educational Science, Bielefeld University, Germany

In the international field of media education, "gaming" is practically only connected to digital environments; board games are not in focus of recent discourses and in the fields of studies. Germany has a unique, heterogeneous board game culture. Economically speaking, there are several german publishing houses like Ravensberger, Pegasus, Schmidt or Kosmos producing successful Eurogames. Furthermore, the world's leading game fair SPIEL is located in Essen. The board game community is constantly growing and showing the important role in current spare time activities. Therefore, board games should be in the focus of media education.

To make a start, at Bielefeld University (Germany) a course of teacher trainees examined the specific characteristics of gaming situations, including modern board games through participatory observations. The students observed gaming situations with young players aged 5 to 18 years to analyze educational aspects and learning potentials. The results show that quite a few learning areas are addressed while playing board games. The results led to several approaches for using board games in classrooms and other educational contexts. The results show the need for further research on board games in learning environments.

Kira van Bebber-Beeg studied Educational Science at Bielefeld University and did her doctoral degree in the field of media pedagogy. As a current lecturer in the Department of Education she qualifies teacher trainees and students in educational science in the field of media pedagogy. Her current key topics are the opportunities and limitations of media participation for deaf students.

Katharina Herde studied Interdisciplinary Media Studies as well as Sociology and Text Technology at Bielefeld University. Besides her teaching activities at the Faculty of Educational Science, she does her postgraduate research in media pedagogy and works as a research associate at the project "BiProfessional" at Bielefeld University. Her current key topics cover media pedagogy, media research and teacher training.

Select Publications
Bebber-Beeg, Kira van & Katharina Herde [in print]: "Brettspiele – ein aktuelles medienpädagogisches Forschungsfeld?!" in Merz medien + erziehung 2017/01. (Title in English: "Board Games – a current field of research in media paedagogy?!")

Bebber-Beeg, Kira van (ed.) [forthcoming]: Jugend 2016: Mediales Freizeitverhalten. Universität Bielefeld. (Title in English: Youth of 2016: media in free time activities.)

Bebber-Beeg, Kira van (2016): "Inklusives Fernsehen. Die Serie Switched at Birth Ein Exempel für 'selbststärkendes', barrierefreies Fernsehen für Gehörlose?" in Merz medien + erziehung Zeitschrift für Medienpädagogik 60(3): 39-45. (Title in English: "Media and deafness: The tv series "Switched at Birth" as an example for empowering?")

Herde, Katharina, Henrike Friedrichs, Friederike von Gross & Uwe Sander (2016): "Habitusformen von Eltern im Kontext der Computerspielnutzung ihrer Kinder" in Sonderegger, Ruth, Thomas Ballhausen, Christian Berger, Katharina Kaiser-Müller, Christian Swertz et al. (eds.) Medienimpulse 2014-2015. Wien: New Academic Press. (Title in English: "Parental forms of habitus in the context of the computer game playing of their children.")

Psychological Dynamics in the Popular Board Game Boom: An Ethnographic Study of Settlers of Catan as a Social Boundary Object

Thu 18 May, 11:00 - 11:30 (KUA3, Room 4A.1.60)

Dr Andreas Lieberoth & Ira Ellefsen (w/ Marlene Nielsen & Dr Charlotte Jonasson)
Interacting Minds Centre (IMC), Aarhus University, Denmark

The 2010s board game boom is characterized by several cultural, technological and societal convergences, including a psychological desire to carve out meaningful spaces for social interaction in an increasingly digital life. But what characterizes the interactions and social qualities of a board game compared to other shared activities? More specifically, how do motifs and demands oriented toward the gameplay itself interact with motifs and demands oriented toward the social sphere? Can this distinction show how the same game can lead to widely different game experiences, depending on the motifs at play in each game group?

In this study, we observed the use of board games as a schematized social activity at a Danish boarding school for young adults (Højskole). We specifically analysed the differential dynamics in several ad hoc formed groups playing Settlers of Catan. Through participant observation and subsequent thematic analysis based in sociocultural psychology, we identified examples of intersections between game and social motifs, including instances where one or both suffered due to imperfect alignment. Misalignment between players' orientation had consequences for the flow, learning opportunities, and social dynamic of the group, and at times led to breakdowns in the gameplay or social conflicts.

The boarding school in question had a large population of disabled students, so inclusion and the negotiation of social relations was an explicit goal for the game activity. Furthermore, several of the non-disabled participants were at the school, or indeed in the course, as personal helpers for other students, and/or in order to build competences related to the care professions. As such, in our particular case, multiple, sometimes conflicting, motifs to participate are clearly on display. A generalizable point emerging from this work is that board games are excellent boundary objects for social interaction. However, these very same boundary objects place great demands on the player, which can both be attractive and problematic at a social psychological level, requiring participants to align not just around the game as artefact, but in terms of their motifs to play.

Andreas Lieberoth, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, Danish School of Education (DPU), & Interacting Minds Centre (IMC), Aarhus University.

Ira Ellefsen, Cand. Psych.

Marlene Nielsen, Cand. Scient, TrygFonden's Centre for Child Research, School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University.

Charlotte Jonasson, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus University.

The research was conducted as a cross-disciplinary team effort at the Interacting Minds Centre (IMC), Aarhus University. The authors have collectively published on topics such as education, failure as a psychological construct, motivation, gamification, and game research methods.

Games and Mind

Thu 18 May, 11:30 - 12:00 (KUA3, Room 4A.1.60)

Dr Christian Schmidt
Professor Emeritus of Economics, Paris Dauphine University, France

The presentation first surveys the results of brain investigations (neuroimaging:  fRMI, PET, etc.) during the process of different games (La Mora and Rock-Paper-Scissors, but also Poker, Go, etc.). The results revealed differential neural activations in the brains of the players according to the nature of their opponents and strategic decisions. The obtained results were then modeled in an extensive game theoretical format in order to provide interesting social interpretations. Several suggestive features of mind abilities are derived from their computation, concerning in particular the impact of game situations on the inter-intentionality and inter-subjectivity between humans. We conclude with a brief analysis of the impact of gaming on individual and social behaviors, including addiction.

Professor Emeritus at Paris Dauphine University and President of the European Neuroeconomics Association. My researches are mainly devoted to game theory. More recently I have turned my interest to neuroscience with special application to gaming activities and addictive gambling.

Select Publications
La théorie des jeux. 2003.

Neuroéconomie: comment les Neurosciences transforment l'analyse économique. 2010.

With P. Livet: Comprendre nos interactions sociales. 2014.