U of A's James Gee on Passion Communities with Gamasutra.
The 4th Games, Learning and Society Conference was held in Madison, Wisconsin where Gamasutra caught up with James Gee, author of "What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy." In one of the most interesting cross-over conversations (where video games cross over into the real world) I've read, Gee outlines why the gameplay comes second to the "Passion Communities." More importantly, Gee sees these communities not only filling the current gap in education but raising en masse the education level of the participants. Citing an example of how gaming has infiltrated the real world:
Passion communities encourage and enable people of all ages to do extraordinary things. Gee believes the 'amateur knowledge' that arises from this immersive involvement often surpasses 'expert knowledge,' and cited fantasy baseball as an example.The boundaries between the 'fantasy' game and the 'real' game have been blurred because fantasy players' expertise in statistical analysis has had a measurable impact on how MLB teams evaluate players.
Additionally, Gee discusses the symbiotic relationship between the gamers and developers. The gamers don't passively enjoy the games, they work to improve their surroundings:
The passive spectator gains insight by getting involved. As players engage with games by creating mods, for example, they are creating tools that theorize their play as they play.
In fact, it's suggested, World of Warcraft mods created by expert players eventually eat the experience, providing a kind of emergent play that is superior to the experience built by the designers.
If you want to be one of them thinker types, then the rest of the article has additional nuggets of knowledge in this Gamasutra discussion.