P. G. Schrader
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P. G. Schrader is an assistant professor of educational technology in the College of Education at the University of Nevada , Las Vegas. Prior to working in education, Schrader was a swimmer and ranked among the top 100 backstrokers in the world. After a successful athletic career, Schrader pursued his degree in educational psychology at the University of Connecticut . During that time, he instructed students of all ages in mathematics, educational psychology, and technology. Schrader has received awards honoring his commitment to academics, the community, and higher education in general. His dissertation at the University of Connecticut focused on the manner in which newly matriculated students adjust to the college environment while participating in a technologically enhanced curriculum. Currently, Schrader's work involves complex technological learning contexts such as hypertext learning environments and massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). Schrader has published work on Internet-delivered case-based instruction in Instructional Science. He has also been published in the areas of instrument development, multimedia, distance learning, and games in education. Additionally, Schrader has presented at more than 20 national and regional conferences.



How Did You Get so Good? An Investigation of Expertise in the World of Warcraft
Video games are both fun and popular, facts that are rarely in doubt and evidenced by the enormous revenue games generate annually. What has often been questioned is the educative value of games. Negative effects such as addiction, gender bias, and aggression have often been the focus of research (see Anderson, & Bushman, 2001; Gentile, Lynch, Linder, & Walsh, 2004; Kafai, 1996; Salguero & Moran, 2002). Still, others advocate strongly in favor of video games and their future place in education (see Gee, 2003; Innovate Vol. 1, #6, 2005; Prensky, 2001; Squire, 2004; Young, 2004). Although researchers have made considerable progress with respect to games in education, there remains a stigma that games are frivolous. Further, if learning is argued to take place, then it is of questionable relevance and/or morality. However, within all manner of games, known principles of learning are at work and therefore games provide a medium that is rife with opportunities to study cognition and learning (Steinkuehler, 2006).

One of the most notable game genres is the Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG). From one perspective, MMOGs provide an environment to understand the dynamics of intrapersonal collaboration (Steinkuehler, 2005). From another perspective, MMOGs provide an exciting context for investigating authentic perception-action dynamics within a constrained system (Young, Schrader, & Zheng, in press). Through interaction with the context, other participants, and outside resources (e.g., informational sites, databases, and forums), gamers become proficient not only on the level of human-computer interaction, but also at the level of avatar-virtual world interaction as an extension of intent. In the latter sense, the avatar/character becomes the mechanism by which gamers express their intent within the virtual space as a means to achieve their goals. While it is clear that gamers become quite skilled as they achieve their objectives, it is unclear what strategies are employed in order to develop said skills.

According to research on expertise, an expert in multiple domains exhibits several characteristics, many of which focus on time. However, the nature of expertise as described by Glaser, Chi, and Farr (1988) includes other characteristics that can easily be translated into the virtual worlds of MMOGs (e.g., planning, automaticity, and quick recognition of meaningful patterns). Additionally, MMOGs provide a mechanism for complex communication, collaboration, and intertextual and intratextual information exchange. Becoming highly skilled within these contexts requires significant levels of user-to-user interaction, user-to-resource interaction, and user-to-context interaction.

World of Warcraft is a MMOG that provides the gamer with multiple methods of play. For this inquiry, data were collected from 48 individuals who were deemed highly proficient in terms of intrapersonal collaboration and game related tasks. Participants were recruited from a single guild, comprised of players who have reached the maximum level and ability for one or more characters. Each regularly completes advanced game content (high-end raids), and competes successfully with other players in combat (PvP). This presentation will describe in detail the mechanisms used by these sophisticated gamers in their continual goal to reach expertise as well as relevant educational implications.


Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12 (5), 353-359.
Barab, S., M. Thomas, T. Dodge, R. Carteaux, and H. Tuzun. 2005. Making learning fun: Quest Atlantis, a game without guns. Educational Technology Research & Development 53 (1): 86-107.
Gee, J. P. 2003. What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave/St. Martin's.
Gentile, D. A., P. J. Lynch, J. R. Linder, and D. A. Walsh. 2004. The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance. Journal of Adolescence 27:5-22.
Glaser, R., Chi, M.T.H., and Farr, M.J. The Nature of Expertise. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, New Jersey, 1988.
Innovate: Journal of online education. (Aug/Sep 2005). Special issue on video game technology. Vol 1. No. 6. http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=issue&id=9 (accessed January 27, 2006).
Kafai, Y. B. (1996). Electronic play worlds: Gender differences in children’s construction of video games. In Y. Kafai & M. Resnick (Eds.), Constructivism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World (pp. 97-123). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Salguero, R. A., and R. M. Moran. 2002. Measuring problem video game playing in adolescents. Addiction 97:1601-1606.
Schrader, P. G. 2004. Games in education: Beyond arousal, aggression, and gender. Proceedings of the International Conference on Education and Information Systems Technologies and Applications (EISTA), Orlando, FL, July 23.
Steinkuehler, C. A. (in press). Massively multiplayer online videogaming as participation in a discourse. Mind, Culture, and Activity.
Steinkuehler, C. A. (2006). Why Game (Culture) Studies Now? Games and Culture, 1 (1), 97-102.
Taylor, L. 2003. When seams fall apart: Video game space and the player. Game Studies 3 (2). http://www. gamestudies. org/0302/taylor/ (accessed November 30, 2005).
Young, M. 2004. An ecological description of video games in education. Proceedings of the International Conference on Education and Information Systems Technologies and Applications (EISTA), Orlando, FL, July 23. http://web.uconn.edu/myoung/EISTA04Proceed.pdf (accessed February 10, 2006).

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