Secondary Worlds and computer gaming in Education
Fantasy worlds have long enthralled and engaged our imaginations with Tolkien defining those of sufficient detail as Secondary Worlds, distinct from the Primary World of our everyday experience. Within such worlds we can imaginatively explore beyond the narratives provided us and by combining such worlds with the interactivity of games, particularly computer games, extending this ability to explore persistent Secondary Worlds that we can influence and change, share experiences with others, and contribute to the mythologies of these worlds. This rich exploration provides opportunities to learn by enhancing the mental models constructed by our explorations of Secondary Worlds and transferring this learning to the mental models held of similar concepts in the Primary World. Two case studies are briefly detailed to clarify the concepts presented, firstly the use of a Year 8 Social Studies simulation of the world of StatecraftX in which empire building, resource management, and refugee dilemmas provided a context for student engagement with a Secondary World and transfer concepts developed in world to those under study; and secondly, the use of the Secondary world of the Simpsons, particularly the Springfield Primary School, as a familiar Secondary World setting in which to explore teacher education situations and transfer learning to real world practice.