Theses Doctoral

The Role of Videogame Glitch in Adult Learning

Albuquerque Mendes, Beatriz

This research investigates the responses of three individuals engaging with the Super Mario World (SMW) platform videogame glitches, and how they learned to solve the problem without formal help. This investigation was chosen because it explores connections between media literacy, critical thinking, and play in adults in the context of responding to unexpected technological errors. At the core of this study is the question of how encounters with arbitrary glitches can motivate and elicit critical thinking. Following a case study model, data were collected as the three subjects played SMW and encountered glitches. Questions regarding the (glitchy) game play experience were addressed in the first interview immediately following. The subjects were asked to create a visual essay and keep personal journals, which were gathered after 30 days, and a second interview at that time focused on the overall experience.
Several results emerged from the data. Each of the subjects identified and solved for glitches in a way that suggested critical thinking processes. In addition, they all reflected in various ways on the challenges that glitches presented, making connections to larger issues and their everyday lives. The data also showed the importance of memory in these processes. The results suggest that while subjects approached and solved a technological glitch in SMW game play, they simultaneously acquired, developed, and—at least for the duration of the study—sustained new literacy skills and expanded their proficiency with critical thinking. This holds some potential implications for the value of incorporating glitch experiences both inside and outside the classroom, suggesting that videogame play—and particularly glitches in play—can be considered valuable opportunities for learners and teachers alike.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Burton, Judith
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
March 2, 2018