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Gaming for reading
A feasibility study on the use of video games to engage adults with low literacy in reading for pleasure June 2010

Contents: Executive Summary ............................................................................................. 3 Chapter 1: Redefining reading........................................................................... 5 Chapter 2: Existingresearch............................................................................... 9 Chapter 3: A review of games .......................................................................... 14 Chapter 4: Learning perspectives .................................................................... 25 Chapter 5: Developing games.......................................................................... 33Chapter 6: Recommendations and next steps.................................................. 40 Appendix 1: Learning provider survey............................................................. 42 Appendix 2: Games developer survey ............................................................. 46

By Genevieve Clarke and Michelle Treagust with thanks to colleagues at The Reading Agency, Tom Holman,Mark Treagust, the digital team at NIACE and all those who responded to our surveys and requests for information. Please contact genevieve.clarke@readingagency.org.uk for further information. The Reading Agency has been funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to undertake this study as part of its ongoing work to promote the use of reading for pleasure to engage, motivate andsupport adults with literacy needs.

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Executive Summary
1. The Reading Agency is an independent charity, founded in 2002. Our mission is to inspire more people to read more in the belief that reading can have a profound effect on people’s life chances. We run national programmes for audiences of all ages and abilities including adults who struggle with reading. The main focus of this studyis how the scale of engagement achieved by the £1 billion gaming industry can be brought to bear on this country’s adult literacy skills deficit – a stubborn problem that urgently needs some creative solutions. We are looking at the potential for games, ranging from those created for educational purposes to commercial games accessed online, on games consoles or on handheld devices, to engageadults in an enjoyment of reading and to support their skills acquisition at the same time. And we are exploring how our successful Six Book Challenge scheme for emergent adult readers, launched in 2008, might be enriched with a gaming or digital dimension. In order to do this we have looked at existing research, carried out our own review of games in relation to their accessibility for adults withliteracy needs and their potential to encourage reading for pleasure, and surveyed and interviewed learning providers, games developers and publishers. 2. Although limited, existing research indicates that digital technologies are having a significant beneficial impact on learners and on the practitioners who work with them and can be linked to supporting literacy skills. 3. A simple readabilityassessment of a small selection of games shows the majority to be accessible to adult readers with literacy levels of Entry Level 3 to Level 1, which is lower than the average novel. 4. Together our survey findings and case studies indicate a positive attitude to games and other digital technologies from practitioners working in settings as varied as literacy classes, libraries and prisons and with avariety of audiences. 5. Games developers have a very immediate interface with their audience and have found a way of selling digital content to committed gamers of all ages worldwide. Publishers have to embrace the digital world if they are to maximise their authors’ work and to reach new audiences. The common ground between developers and publishers in promoting an enjoyment of reading text...
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