After wrestling with the experiment data and the whole writing process, I finally was able to get an article out the door to ReCALL Journal. I will hear back from them in March (or before then) with reviewer comments. In the meanwhile, I'm trying to think of next steps for how to grow the project.
One thing that I found interesting about the data (see posting from 14 August 2012) was that study participants who were immersed in the 3D digital game-based language learning (3D-DGBLL) environment seemed to manifest a more fuller understanding of the activity associated with the recycling and waste management systems than those participants who had studied these systems in only in a text-based environment. The narratives written by the experiment group, however, were rougher and less polished than those written by the control group.
The question in my mind, I suppose, is: How to get the best of both worlds? How can learning gains in a 3D-DGBLL environment, which may not necessarily be linguistic in nature, be leveraged to promote learning gains (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) in a SLA classroom? As I like to show in my conference presentation slides, the type of activity that leads to learning in a game world:
Is very similar to the type of open-ended activity that L2 learners will encounter in the real world once they leave the classroom:
What my recent experiment findings have led me to believe is that perhaps in-game activity develops a type of mental structure (I refer to them as "story maps" in the article, borrowing a term from Nitsche), which we can use to structure the development of a second language. The next question, I guess, is what's the best way to include a 3D-DGBLL environment in the classroom curriculum so that these structures are used most effectively. More on this topic to come later.