EDTECH 532

Game Over

Final Reflection of Project and Class

This class was exasperating! It was fun! It was tough and frustrating! It was a great learning experience.  I had ah-hah moments, I had grrrrrrr moments, I cried once or twice in frustration.  I laughed, got silly, listened and participated in some serious dicussion.  This was a "game-changing" class. (had to do that).

EdTech 532 helped me experience why games work in education.  They are engaging, many people are more willing to "lose" yet try again, they can be less intimidating than traditional educational techniques, there is the fun factor, and a sense of camaraderie often occurs during game time.

I learned that games I would never have thought educational such as minecraft, WOW, sploder, and SL with thought and effort can be turned into games that teach, practice a concept, invite creativity and community building, and turn dull subjects into engaging learning times.

The idea of creating a game was daunting to me and I floundered for a good 10 days.  I wanted to create something for reading but was intimidated with trying to create an online game.  I am not quite ready for that (but I will be).  Anyway, with some coaching my teacher, Chris Haskell, the idea for a board game with interactive challenges like videos, computer apps, and reading stations to help with individual reading challenges began to form in my mind.

The game is still in its design stage.  The feedback I received helped me understand that I am still more in the traditional world than I like.  I had an idea of using sticky notes that the students write their answers on to give to the teacher. Quite a few classmates gave me ideas on how to do this digitally.

This points to how much technology has progressed and how fast it is progressing examples include 3D printers, virtual reality eye wear,  SL classrooms, and nursing games.  So this class has reinforced my perception that education for our students has to get a digital update and quickly.  I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with all the shipmates this semester.  The presentations of everyone's games were inspiring- the were creative and each one different.  I found inspiration and hope during this class, with these people,  that education can and will change for the better.

Embed a Game

Red Ball 4- These little guys try to keep the world from turning square

Edutopia Blog

Just wanted to share this blog about games and coding in elementary schools.  

3 Ways Coding and Gaming Enhance Learning

This article had 3 great ideas for using coding and gaming to enhance the curriculum and engage students while doing so.

Virtual Hallucinations

2nd Life Simulation to raise awareness on schizophrenia

Simulations of Idahonia

Intrepid Healthy Lifestyle Hunter in Second Life

A group from Prometheus went to this simulation last Wednesday (3/26/14).  This was an incredible learning opportunity.  As you arrive at the station, the simulation is explained on boards.  It was easy to retrieve and wear the powerpack on one's back.  After going through the train compartment and answering questions about myself and my knowledge of health and food, we were transported to the healthy lifestyle village.  The making of which is incredibly detailed with stores, outside vendors, gardens, a breakfast, a lunch, and a dinner building.  The idea is to eat healthy and do enough exercise to stay healthy.

To participate one has to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner; exercise around the square, and eat snacks (even directly from the garden).  There are multi-page menus for the 3 regular meals.  The snacks are either 'purchased' (no money required) at the store or at vendors situated around the village square.  Each time you choose a product like sushi or baklava, menu pops down to show you the nutritional content.  After reviewing the content, you may choose to eat the item or give it back.  Each choose will either earn or deduct points from your healthy score.  The pack on your back shows if you are in bad shape (red), tired (yellow), healthy (green) or really super healthy (blue I think).  Steele got super healthy, I got healthy, Bill and Curious George were yellow by the end.

I contracted a few diseases like flu while there but got healthy again eating correctly.  I was surprised that drinking a smoothie (which I thought would be healthy) actually gave me negative points!  There are also question boards along the way with the correct answer giving one more points.  I really liked that the questions changed and one did not get penalized for a wrong answer.  In fact, if you did enough questions, that question you got wrong would come back (and when you get a wrong answer the simulation shows you the correct answer at that time) and if you answered it correctly the second time you received points for it.  One of the features that made me smile was if your pack glowed green for healthy your avatar started to skip!

It was obvious that this simulation took a lot of effort to build but it has WOW factor.  It teaches in a fun way about food, nutrition and health.  I loved participating. It was fun and educational.  Here is a shot of the start of this adventure:

Sploder Fest

At first, I could not find a way to leave comments for the creator of the games on Sploder.com.  So I will vote on each game  there and leave comments for my fellow classmates on this blog. I have since found where to post but will keep comments here as well, since some games do not have posting available.
Retro Arcade Games
MsT- Liked the variety of the game, only made it through one level because there were too many stages (6) for the first level and I grew tired even with the variety.  Would suggest reminding players at the beginning which keystrokes to use to move, jump, and attack.
RuthArcade -Liked the landscape.  Needed some positive rewards and some adversaries.  Good start to a game. Would suggest adding directions on how to move.
EdTech Project  -This was a nice game.  I liked the background and the chance to get used to the controls before an adversary was approached.  It was slower paced than I enjoy because one had to wait for the water spouts to come to get some coins.  A faster pace would make this game more exciting and maybe a few water adversaries. Really like that you gave directions as beginning of game.
Shewt Sploder - Great Game! Took me 3 tries to complete Stage 3. There was a balance between rewards and adversaries. The game flowed well. Well done. Only suggestion would be to add directions on how to move at beginning of game.
SploderRMBGE - Fun game.  Would offer directions at beginning on how to move to help.  My first time playing the air barrier did not go away so had to stop game- did not know why.  My second attempt it went away when I knocked out the adversary.  The pacing was good.  Would like to see more stages.
Lonely Island - This game had a different aspect with the economic lessons that occurred throughout the game.  I reached the 2nd level but stopped when I died twice. The game was balanced with adversaries (although that last piranha pit was well stocked!) and rewards.  I feel there was too much "talk" in the middle of the stage which took away from a player's action.  Maybe space the economic talks at beginning and end of stage. Would also have made each stage a tad longer- they felt too short. Will probably play again to try to complete the levels.
Mother's Day - Fun game.  Like the concept of getting a gift for Mom.  The right amount of adversaries compared to rewards.  Would recommend giving some directions at beginning on how to move for first timers.  It flowed well.
Steele's Arcade- Good start to a game.  Like the music and setting.  Would have liked to see additional adversaries and for the game to be longer.  Would recommend giving directions on how to move at beginning of game for beginners.
Can't Catch a Break - Appropriate name for game. Has a lot of action, rewards, and adversaries.  The second stage 1st level beginning was a surprise (got knocked out in a millisecond.) I got to level 3, which took be 2 tries, and stopped when I did not complete the game a third time in a row.  May I suggest to add an extra life - I think it takes about 4 lives to get through all 3 levels or have the lives renew at each level. Settings are good and it is a challenging game.  Might suggest adding directions at the beginning to help newcomers.  Well done.
Evil Forest - This game had action, music that motivated, enough adversaries and good challenges to get rewards.  It needed more levels!  Recommend giving directions on how to move at beginning of game for newcomers.  Liked this very much.
First Attempt - This game was the right length for stage one.  Would like to see another stage.  Liked the setting - it was different.  Would have had some different adversaries a little earlier to make it more interesting.  Recommend giving directions on how to move at beginning of game for newcomers.  This had some really good qualities in a game.

Platformer Games
Adventure Island 1 -It was quite an adventure.  I got to the third level after several tries and almost made it.  This game is a little more challenging then the Retro games.  The keystrokes are different and the adversaries take longer to defeat.  I would have liked to see a change in setting for level 2 and level 3.  Enjoyed playing.
Counts Castle -This game is very challenging.  I like it but get frustrated trying to jump high enough to get over boulders or up to another tunnel entrance.  I LOVE THE CAR!  That is the best part running over adversaries. I think making some of the boulders smaller or more lives would be helpful to keep me coming back to play.  The setting is great and I like the multi-levels.  This was a good challenge even if I did not complete the quest.
FairmontPlatform -Favorite game so far!  It was challenging, it had space ships, cars, teleporting, and guns!  I still did not make it through the 3rd level after several tries but really, really enjoyed this game.  Not sure of any changes I would make, it was engaging.

Classic Shooter Games
Space Shooter - Great game, although I am not very good at space shooter games (get mixed up with thrusting and turning).  I like that there are smaller comrades that can take care of the enemy ships or else I would have died sooner.  This game is fun.  I think there is enough complexity in it as well. I also like the full screen effect.  There is more maneuverability.

Physics Games
Balloon Landing - This is the game I made.  I like my graphics, I did not know the spacebar would magnetize and unmagnetize the balloon.  That made the game easier.  I need to add that instruction to the beginning of the game.  I would like to make this slightly more challenging at some time. 
Grumpy Squares - This game was fast-paced and challenging.  The challenge was not in shooting the squares, it was shooting enough squares in the time allowed.  I would like to see additional levels.  Music added to the game tension admirably.

3D Adventure Games
The Doctor Egon - This was again challenging in that a mouse was needed to be able to move correctly.  It took me a while to get my avatar lined up so that I could shoot adversaries.   I like the challenge of the maze.  This game has potential and would like to see another level.  Was the ghostlike adversary necessary?  Did it take points away?  I like having to find the terminal and locks to open certain doors and cells.  Would play again.

Conclusion
These games all had 'boundaries' limiting avatars, directional moves, how to play.  I find it interesting that even with these limitations there was variety in the way the games were created.  Some were more interesting to play but all had a good framework.  I noticed that music, number of challenges, and the pace made a game more enjoyable than others.  The ones that did not hold my interest were the ones that I had trouble mastering.  These are good reminders for when we create games for our classrooms.  They need to hold interest, have a lesson (I enjoyed the quests that had a purpose), have challenges and rewards, and can the game controls can be mastered in a timely fashion. Good insight to the difference between a good game and a great game.  I am impressed with what all of us accomplished on our first attempt at creating a game. This project was worth the time even with my husband teasing me that I spent the day playing games.

Modern Narrative Games

MMORPG and ARG

Narrative games have evolved to include multiply players and game worlds that are real time.  This means that as a player while you are offline other players have influenced the game and it will be different when you return.  ARG's are even more interactive in that they use multi-media not just computers to solve puzzles and quests.  Both types still have consequences and positive feedback with rewards.  These modern games are making for a community of players who have similar experiences and create their own narration moments.  These types seems to be empowering the players with a sense of community and action.  I think creating an ARG for a classroom experience would be awesome.  It would be neat to see how students find solutions together and work as a community to solve a "quest".  I have yet to play either of these game types however, second life is similar in that we are evolving a classroom community and the 3D GameLab give us opportunities to work alone and together.   I have found this to be a positive experience.

 

After Actions: States of Play

Reflection on 'Narrative, Games, and Theory' by Jan Simons

Having read this mini-thesis has given me a better understanding of the differences between game theory and game studies.  The class has had a vibrant discussion concerning what makes a game.  Many of the class stated there had to be rules which I was not sure I agreed with because players could choose to not follow the rules during a game.  Game theory studies real life situations and which choices would give a person the best outcome.  Game theory is not concerned with rules but with outcomes.   Game studies seems to have to have rules for their to be games.   So this is one distinction between these modalities.
Narration is a consideration in both Game Studies and Game Theory.  Its level of importance depends on if you are a game ludologist, narrative game studier, or a follower of game theory.  Reading this mini-thesis gave me more vocabulary when working with Game Studies.  Ludologists do not feel narrative is important but want to include it in games anyway, narratologists feel narration is extremely important to a game experience, and game theorists believe narration is just a part of its theory with other factors that have as much importance such as strategies, outcomes, other options not taken.
Reading this gave me a better understanding of how narration works backwards. Creating games one works from the outcome and finds the choices made that reached the outcome.  This has an affect on character development and choices offered the character throughout the game.  So although the writer of the game understands what the ultimate outcome should be, gamers will still be interested in playing the game because they are immersed in the narration and the choices they make.  This is the most important idea that I got from this article.

 

Narrator Games 3

Legend of Zelda- Link to the Past

This Legend of Zelda version is a action-adventure game that was very popular in the past.  I remember trying to play this a few times at a friend's house only to be frustrated with the controller and not knowing where to go.  The narrative is to save Zelda from the evil wizard Agahnim who is trying to open the sealed gate that will allow "evil" to enter the kingdom.  Zelda is a descendant of the seven wise men who placed the seal for protection many years ago.  Zeldo happens to be related to you in some way. Zelda is, of course, in the dungeon of the castle.

This game offers the player free choice in movement on where to go.  So for me the first 20 minutes or so I moved and did not accomplish anything except to find the lamp.  I then accessed help from a YouTube video walkthrough to find the secret passage into the castle.  That was very helpful.  It also made the game more entertaining as I continued I started to use the walkthrough less and less so that I could figure out where to go.  My type of personality needs to feel confident in a skill so the walkthrough helped but I also like to be independent and explore on my own.  This game allows for that.  Once I understood what to look for and how to get around the guards or attack them successfully, I had more confidence to continue the game.   The game stopped after another 20 minutes or so when I reached the dungeon but was killed off by the guard with the swinging mace.  I was unsure how to defeat him (although I just watched the walkthrough and believe I could accomplish this now).

This game has a lot going for it. The music is appropriate without being annoying.  I did turn the sound off after a while to keep is from distracting me (a personal preference.) It was challenging without overloading the gamer. There is enough time and enough lives.  There is compensation during the quests with addtional lives, money, and tools given in appropriate timing. The game is self-paced which works well with different types of players.  It has something for advanced and beginners.  There are many levels to complete.  The walkthrough video takes 4 hours to watch so the game has complexity and challenges enough to keep a player's attention.

There are hints and helpful narratives along the way but I am not sure I how long it would have taken me to find the secret passage if not for the walkthrough.  Also, once I attained the boomerang I could not figure out how to use that instead of the sword.  The directions were not clear. These are a few detriments to this game.

The game works and works well.  It was very popular in the past and understandably so.  I am not sure how I could use such a game in the classroom. What made this fun was the narrative belonged with the game- trying to replace it with "Do 5 math problems to continue" would be artificial.  So as we continue to review "serious games" to incorporate in the classroom, I will have to ponder the appropriate positive education use this type of game.

Narrator Games 2

Peasant's Quest

Peasant's Quest is a narrative game that is for one player.  It takes you on a journey to slay a dragon, Trogor, that has destroyed your home.  During the game you meet people, steal treasure, learn to shoot arrows, possibly abuse a baby, and kill a monster.  This narrative was fun.  I liked that is has "tongue-in-cheek" feedback - when I kept looking a trees, the response I received was "It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown." So the sense of humor helped.  I got the the old lady's hut and found the trinket myself.  I got killed about 5 times before I went looking for the walk through on-line.  That helped me "complete" the quest.  The ending also made me laugh.

This game had variety - there were different actions that needed to be completed for the quest to work.  It was interactive, my actions determined where the character went and if it received the needed inventory to complete the quest.  So there was enough challenge to the game to keep it interesting.  I really like learning how to shoot the bow and arrow.  That probably took 10 minutes for me to achieve.  I became invested in completing the game.  These are all good features in a game.  This game is a step above Zork.  The colors in the game were good.  The monster decaying was a really nice touch.

The help was not really helpful and I probably would have become frustrated and stopped the game if not for the walk-through.  If I was creating this game, I would have added more helpful hints such as "What can you use to make the bucket heavy enough to drop?"  So you are not giving the correct action away but giving a direction of thought to the player.  Again, a player needs to be able to read on a certain level to be able to play this game successfully.

This type of game I could play again, with a little help, and enjoy.  I believe it has possibilities for reading and problem solving in a classroom.  Students could play to a certain level and discuss the problems and solutions in this story.  They could then create different puzzles or narrations that would it the character or background of the game.  Also, the computer generated narration could also give facts about the time period or the style of homes, clothing, myths, etc...   This type of game has real possibilities for a classroom.

 

Milk Run

1st trip with AgileJeff and Company

We went to a number of places on the MILK Run in Second Life.  First we went to RUC-Sandbox, then to a Brewery, next to Caledon Oxford University, and finally to Virtual Ability.  I thought I took many more pictures but they must have over written each other.  I just went back to Virtual Ability as I had to leave early and got a ton of cool stuff!  I have picked up textures, houses, a new avatar, lots of clothing, some furniture, etc.  Am still learning what to do with all of it.  I enjoyed the period pieces in Caledon- however most of the freebies were for new residents less than 30 days old so we could not attain them.  I liked the horse drawn carriages in that world. It was very neat exploring these places and helped give me a better understanding of how Second Life could be used, with supervision, in classrooms for teaching.  Viewing historical places was neat but one could also have students build ecosystems here.  Below are some pictures from the trips.







 

 

Sploder Embed

Balloon Landing

Temple of Portunus

This Second Life space has been turned into an MIC art space.  I went there twice - once during the day and again this evening.  I liked the structure of the space.  The temple grounds were incredible detailed.  It would someplace I would like to explore in real life.  I checked out the main temple and sat on the couch which gave me options on how to sit.  That was neat.  There were books on the table, but they were just for show.  I was disappointed that they did not have any information. I also thought there may be a hidden door behind the couches but I could not find anyway to open it.  If there was would it go down to the underground temple? The main temple space would be a good place to watch a play or dance.
Next, I moved to the bathing temple by the sea.  I got a chance to bath and bathing curtains magically appeared and I could change their color and texture.  It was fun to chose whether to float, dream, or bath.  That would be lovely place to meet someone for a chat.
I then moved to the Art showing of Trash at the beach.  Interesting.  I would like to go back when there is another installation.  Tonight on the stage there was a art installation with several people talking in Spanish.  There was a placard and I believe one of the artists was discussing her work. The art exhibit area could and is used for education.  The trash was affective and effective in its presentation.
I continued to to walk around the grounds, went into another smaller temple and they had clothes for sale.  I ended up dancing by a small pond.  I liked that you could chose what time of dance to do. I also liked that it could be done as a couple.
I then walked into the underground temple. That was cool.  I really liked that space with the sparkles floating out of the big bowl.  As you go further in the small water areas and the firelight made that space magical.  As I came out of there, I continued to explore the rest of the area then climbed some stone steps, followed the path (going counter-clockwise) and ended back at the main temple space.   I liked the evening presentation of this space better than the day.  It just had more atmosphere.
As an educator, I would like there to be more interaction or placard explaining the history of the site.  It would be neat to click on the area by the fountain to have a temple dance or ritual presented.  

Here are a few photos:

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 What Makes a Good Game?

After playing the different types of games that one can design on the Sploder website, I have a list of properties that enhance a game and properties that are detrimental to the enjoyment/satisfaction of a game. 
Properties that enhance a game are: 
  • Music that is appropriate to the game & varies its melody during the game.
  • The game is challenging enough without a cognitive overload.
  • There is enough time to complete the challenge.
  • The amount of lives is sufficent to complete the task.
  • Directions explain how to move and what needs to be accomplished to win.
  • Something has to be solved during the game.
  • There is a self pace about the game.
  • The keys work as described or the directions explain when and how the keys/arrows work.
  • There is more than one level and each level add difficulty.
  • The action is timed well.
  • The avatar can be adjusted to suit the gamer's whim.
  • There is opportunity to get penalized and get rewarded during the game.
  • There are scenes in the game.
Properties that are detrimental:
  • Music and/or sound effects are annoying or monotonous.
  • The avatar dies too quickly to learn how to maneuver on the level.
  • The game moves too fast at first for a beginner to access the situation.
  • The game is boring in that it is too short or moves only on one plain.
  • The game is too hard to understand how to maneuver.
  • There are no directions or goals stated for the game.
  • Some of the keys the directions give do not work or have no explanation on how to work.
  • The path for the game is so unclear that the gamer gets bored or lost.

This is just a preliminary idea of the properties that, in my opinion, work for a game or make a game unsastisfactory.
After listening to Dr. Puentedura, I would add to properties of a good game:
  • A range of challenges
  • It is fair
  • It accesses a range of abilities and skills
  • There is adequate prep for the challenges
  • There is a physical and narrative space in the game
  • There is a definite cost of failure
  • Accomodations are made for beginners and experts to play together
Additional properties of a poor game:
  • It is too simple
  • Patterns are repetitive
  • Game pattern is exhausted before the game ends
  • Patterns are not compelling 
  • Patterns are too hard to discern
  Listening to Dr. Puentedura gave me a better insight to what makes a good game.   Many of the properties he stated were more concise then how I initially wrote mine out.  I like how his podcast has assisted me with the these concepts.

CAVE Exploration

I spent some time walking around the CAVE sight.  The buildings are impressive.  The library is a good resource.  I was disappointed in that it seems to be mostly abandoned- the exhibits are a couple of years old.  It is still a cool sight. I was expecting more interactivity and more people mulling around.  Here are a few pictures of my visit:





Sploder Game-Types 

So far I have tried a few of the Sploder Games and am finding the easy ones too easy while the mission games have no guidance or are freezing.  Will continue to explore.

Shooter Games

In general I do not like shooter games.  In real life I am a decent shot with a rifle, but in game life I usually SUCK. I liked the game "Defend the Empirium" in which I was a robot that walked along a maze like place shooting other robots while I could be invisible and activate helpers.  I liked that there was a chance to take my time one way and learn how to move and fight while the other way placed me in imminent danger with several robots attacking at once (of course that is the way I went the first time).  I would be willing to continue playing this game until I master some of it.


The other game where I was a space ship was called "Very Easy".  It lied, at least for me.  Yes, I could maneuver but was unsure what was the goal.  I do not like the Spider attackers and do not understand how to kill them.  So this was not as much fun as the robot type.

In both games, I struggled to manuever my game piece.  I am sure that mastery comes in time but it is a frustration point that everytime I was attacked I kept spinning around in circles firing my laser or gun.  The other point was that some of the keys did not work or only had a few such as the missile button, again did not understand how to reload.

Since this is not my forte, this will not be the type of game that I would like to create.
Physics Games
This type of game I like better.  The "Play This" game I got to level 8.  I found it challenging but fun.  Personally I am better at trajectory games so this was easier for me.  Of course, it took a while to realize the face had to be hit and then the face touch the coin for it to count.  It is disconcerting to aim at the face. The "Sploder Physics Olympics" was not so fun.  I never finished level one.  The jumping without skidding proved too much for me and I played this over and over and over again.  I still like this type of game though. The learning curve seems simpler than the move, circle, and shoot type of games.   Am not sure how either game can be used in an educational setting.  
Retro Arcade Games
Haskell's Test Game has some good qualities- it is easy to a manuever, there is positive reinforcement (gathering coins), there is intial directions as you start the game, the bad guys do not follow you, and you can go at your own pace. Also, the music matches the game and is not annoying. This would be an ideal game for a beginner gamer.  I believe the "Play This" physics game would also be a good starting point.  This game is simplistic and once mastered, the gamer may move on to more complex games like the Physics Olympics or the shooting games.  The only thing I do not like is that it is too short.
3-D Mission Games
Remember earlier when I told you I could shoot if given time to aim?  Well....I am finding out that I am not that good at shooting in games.  I like the 3-D mission game style.  It is a puzzle and a maze which makes it engage my logical side.  The game is nice in that I seem to not have to shoot the aliens as much for them to die while they have to shoot me alot!  So my learning curve on shooting makes this game still fun.  The sound effects of the aliens growling is good, the background "music" is too monotonous but it does fit the theme.  I had to play both games a few times to win but each time, as I knew where to go and what to expect, I got faster.  The first game, Countdown to Destruction,  I won after 3-4 times. Now I realize many people probably won this the first time round.  It took me approximately 6 minutes and 41 seconds to get to the reactor and as a beginner I am pleased with this.The second game, Help Your Father, I played 2-3 times and thought I was winning but after 15 minutes, after unlocking the cells and on my way back to the beam up site  the mission stopped and said I failed.  I am still not sure why.

I found this type of game to be more "glitchy" then the other types.  My avatar would stop moving and I could not x out of the game. I think for all the games not being able to quit is a disadvantage.  There were times when I knew that I had no chance to win (like hitting 2 men in the Olympic game) but had to continue playing for my chance to try again.  The 3-D missions sometime had my avatar shooting or moving when I KNOW I was not pressing a button or the mouse.  When I was checking out similar games on Sploder it happened as well.  So I like this type of game the best but am not sure I would create a game with it if other computers would have similar problems.

Platformer

This type of game could be fun.  There is a mission - a person can go at their own pace, the game can be set up to suit the skill level of the intended gamers.  I found the first game too hard- the avatar died too fast- there needed to more time for the learning curve or a chance to earn health back.  I understand that this was a level 10 game.
The Pirate game was more guided and easier.  It was a little too simple but for beginners like me it was wonderful to complete the mission and not die in the first 10 seconds.  I would like to build a game that is middle level, have a little complexity (choice) on where to go like the first game without it being quite so hard- maybe have an adversary after 10 seconds of movingin the environment instead of 2 seconds.  This way the gamer has a chance to explore before having to attack or defend or die. The Pirate game also had positive reinforcement which I would like to include in my game.

Games Can Make the World Better

Jane McGonigal's TED talk 4 years ago was about using the 'gaming virtuosos' to help solve world problems.  Gaming Virtuosos are people who have played over 10,000 hours of games - a statistic that represents many American children by the age of 21.  Roughly 10,000 hours represents going to school from 5th grade to graduating high school.  Yet one cannot say that an 18 year old is a virtuoso of education. Jane expressed her opinion that virtuosos are optimistic, like collaborating with people (while gaming at least), are productive (while gaming), and feel that they are meaningful and accomplished while gaming.  She and her company have begun to create games that simulate real world problems that require assistance from the gamers to solve them.  She feels that the gaming virtuosos are a resource that can be used to change the world for the bettter.

I believe that play and learning can be combined.  Our class had a chance to chat with Dr. Gibson this past week.  He spoke of a simulation for wharf workers to be more aware of safety precautions and hazards on the wharf (like getting crushed by a shipping container).  It seemed that once long shoreman participated in the simulation there was less casualties on the wharf.  Jane spoke of an energy game where the was an oil crisis in the US.  She stated that the initial people who played this game made life changing choices to conserve oil for the 3 years since they played the game.  This states to me that people can learn from games and retain the skills learned.

Behaviorist Learning Theory states that positive reinforcement will help students learn.  Personally I believe that a combination of the learning theories is the best way for students to learn.  However, the positive reinforcements that are present in many games seems to create an optimism in gamers that is not always present in real life. They are willing to try and try again to complete a level - partly for the reward that they will receive once the level is complete. This acknowledging of progression seems different than passing a test at school or graduating from grade 4 to 5.  I am wondering if the type of positive reinforcement we have at school is sufficient since it is difficult to have students try and try at say a math concept that they are having trouble with.  There seem to be a lot of learned helplessness in schools but not in games.  So that might possibly be a course of study - can we transfer the type of positive reinforcement found in gaming to schooling?

What I found hopeful about Jane's talk is that the games she and her company have created are the type of games- collaborative, deep thinking, problem solving, and fun that we need created for schools to help shape our 21st century students to be conscientious and thriving members of a real life society.


Narrative Games Reflection

Narrative computer games have been around for a 2-3 decades.  There is a certain level of education needed to play these types of games.  Most importantly, one has to be able to read to participate.  An imagination can also help, while a pencil and paper to draw a map of your adventure is highly recommended.

I played Zork I: The Great Underground Empire last week for about 20 minutes.  It was a frustrating experience because at first I did not read the directions below the game.  It was also frustrating trying to find something.  I went through that forest path at least 4 times before I found the open window at the house and besides the troll (which I promptly killed- guess I could have asked for directions and insights) there was not much interaction.  I played again today for another 20 and 2 minutes.  I went farther this time because I remembered some of the places from the first time I played.  I still had some trouble getting around when I found new rooms.  I was not making a map as I went - which would definitely be helpful.

Both experiences with this game were a slightly anti-climatic.  It took a while to understand the computers language and constraints.  I would ask it to "go back" but it did not understand the use of back.  The language made the game restrictive. It was also a lonely game.  I am assuming you meet characters and do things further along. I picked up items along the way believing I would need them later.  I used the knife and the lantern only in 40 some minutes. I went under the house, through many passages, went to the artists studio, the white cliffs, the dam, the chasm, etc... I picked up a rope, knife, lantern, sack of peppers, elven sword, bottle of water, Zork manual (that seemed to have only 1 page), and a leaflet.  There were other things that I could not take because my "load was too heavy" such as a painting, a platinum bar, and an troll ax.  I have yet to figure how to turn the dam on or if the manual has more than one page.

I understand why games like this were big a few decades ago.  It brings narration (literature) a dimension closer to a visceral experience.  It is similar to an interactive book; however, I have concerns about the use of this game type in an elementary school system. My main concern would be that the reading level would match the students' reading level who were playing the game. I understand some students would be frustrated that they would have to draw a map themselves. AHHH, map skills - this would be a great game for map skills.  The students could play it for 20 minutes and then compare their maps, then go over the game again the next day and double check which maps are correct.

OK, another way of using this game in the classroom would be for the students to draw one of the scenes described in the narration.  They could also rewrite the narration to make it more interesting to their fellow students or eventually create their own narrative game.  HMM, this has more possibilities than I first observed.  I was thinking that students in this day and age would need more visual input to make it interesting for them.  That may still be true, but narrative games could have a place in today's classrooms and they could be an effective learning tool. 


Drop Pod Exercise

I practiced operating the Drop Pods today on the Prometheus.  It was fun to do this.  I had to remember to open the bay doors to send the pod away even though this simulation allows the pod to move without the doors opening.  It was interesting the way the pod chairs are situated here on the Prometheus.  When we entered the drop pods on the first day of class, the pod was sitting differently and the chairs were easy to sit in.  The way the pods arrive on the Prometheus there is a litle bit of a manuevering to get down from the third row.  I wonder if this was built this way because of space issues.

The vector operation takes a little practice for it to work.  I did it several times but would need to practice several more to be comfortable with that.  I would like to have gone to the vector <133,60,2272> to see its location however, since I was practicing alone, I could not go.  Finally, I took several pictures but was disappointed that the pictures did not capture the chat to show that the drop pod actually went to that vector and came back.  Here are a few pictures of my practice.



 

Tom Chatfield- TED Talk- Reflection

Mr. Chatfield's idea of using gaming technology and rewards to assist with social and environmental issues was unexpected.  In the case of creating games for educational purposes, this talk made me aware of the possibilities of using data to create better games for diverse students.   Obviously, his views on gaming are what the 3D GameLab are partially based on.  I am finding the experience bar motiviating, I am liking these short and long aims, and although I will say I don't care about rewards, I keep checking to see if I have earned anymore.  The other component that I am enjoying is the collaboration/social aspect of Second Life.  I will want to utilize these concepts in the game that I will create.  The clear frequent feedback is also necessary for education and will utilize that as well.

Life Connections- Growing Up with Computer Games

 I was born in the 1960's.  The first arcade game I played was pinball.  I love pinball!  These games were only in Ocean City or Rehoboth at the boardwalk.  It was treat to go there and a bigger event if my older brothers would let me play.

I remember when the family got our first video game for the TV.  It was pong.  I laugh as I remember spending hours watching my brothers play this game and how easily I would lose to them when I was given a chance.

In 1985, I was in college and we had some arcade machines in the student center.  I think one was Asteroids (ugh).  My friends and I would rather play the card game spades.  I heard of the games Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego and The Legend of Zelda a few years after they were created.  My nieces had them to play but I never was interested. In fact, I still have a Sims game unopened from a Christmas back then.

When I went back to college to get my education degree, I started to have more interest in gaming.  My internship was in New Zealand and I was impressed when I saw 1st graders using Mavis Beacon and Pixie.  The students were really good at creating designs as well as honing their beginning typing skills.

As my teaching career progressed, I saw the importance of appropriate games used like Math Blaster, to assist students in learning math facts and keeping them engaged.  I also saw games misused.  They were either too hard for students - so lack of engagement or they were not appropriate in that they did not teach anything of educational value.

I feel that games are a part of the future of elementary education.  Having worked in a Title 1 school that had a 50% rate of readers below grade level for third through fifth grade; I want to help create an engaging, broad-range game that works on phonics and comprehension.  It will have to have multiple levels so that a student at pre-primer and a student at above level reading can be engaged and make progress.  I am beginning to understand the need for choice also in this game.  Choice helps it stay a game to students and can be encouraging.

What is game?  What is play?


Game- an activity that can be played alone or in a social settings.  It has rules and an outcome. It can be enjoyable, it engages the mind, body, or both. It has innate value.
 

Games can be fun.  They are played. Games in the classroom have an added dimension of instructional outcome.  As we continue with our play this semester, I gain a better understanding of free-choice in play.  The ability to choose the quests in the gaming lab are motivational to me and I believe that they are to children as well. 

Reading Zimmerman's comments:
 "When we move from systems to play, we shift focus from the game to the players, from structures of rules to structures of human interaction. Games as play are social ecosystems and personal experience, and these dimensions are key aspects of a well-rounded literacy."
help define the relationship between game and play in a classroom.

Play- actively entertaining oneself through imagination, physical activities, or mental activities alone or with others.

I can play with my cats, play a musical instrument, play tennis, I can play a card, board, or online game.  I can play by making a snow angel or splashing in a rain puddle. I enjoy and entertain myself watching a movie or reading a book; but I do not call that play.  Play is not always fun; for instance, last week's "Alien Tag" was unenjoyable for me because of the frustrations of being unable to move gracefully in and around the ship.  It was an uncomfortable experience.  Yet, it was play for other people.  I have played games I did not enjoy at first because I was not good at them -some I never played again and others I kept playing until I mastered the rules and did enjoy the activity.

But why is reading or watching a movie not play?  They fit my definition. According to Peter Gray's definition of play they would because I find them enjoyable, have freely chosen them, it is self-directed, the means of reading is more important then the end of the book, I am mentally removed from "real life", and my mind is active and non-stressed.  Personally, I still cannot name reading a book or watching a movie 'play'.  It just does not feel right. Is it because it does not have rules?  Yet, if I play with a toy truck or a Barbie doll, rules don't immediately come to mind. Hmmm, this is something I will have to come back to.

Peter Gray's understanding of play as freely chosen and his comments on adults interacting with children's play making it not play are profound when considering game-playing in the classroom. Creating meaningful, engaging games and play as a learning technique has to fit the target audience's idea of game and play as well or else it will not be successful.

The importance of these definitions will assist school board members and administration understand that games and play, when successful, create a learning environment that encourages problem solving, self-motivation of learning, and collaboration. Skills that have are ever important in our world.



Zimmerman, E., Gaming Literacy: Game Design Model for Literacy in the 21st-Century, p.27
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