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Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

I had an interesting insight last night. I’ve never really been a gamer, and as such, it’s a little hard for me to get the inside track on why gaming is so captivating for so many people. One of my summer time projects is to get into the World of Warcraft (WoW) that so many of my Cerro Coso and Pepperdine students are engaged in, just to see what the big deal is all about.

So, last night I was watching a friend play Diablo II at my house. He brought over his laptop and I looked over his shoulder as he moved through levels, took on challenges, defeated opponents, toggled between the map, the playing field, and his assets and resources. I was as interested in the user interface as anything else, noticing where the designers had placed indicators (periphery of vision to be seen at a quick glance), at how the graphics moved the player through the game, at how additional resources, not immediately needed, were made quickly accessible as required. The maps showing the bigger picture were transparent overlays on the immediate playing field. I saw how certain elements caused my friend frustration when he wasn’t able to access them right away. I can see how a lot of planning, storyboarding, designing, and programming goes into making a game keeps people interested and entertained.

Lightening speed mouse clicks and an occasional keyboard stroke moved him around the game seamlessly. As I was watching this, I wondered how in the world a newbie would get initiated into the game. How could you learn all of the strategies, resources, moves, keystrokes, and elements in a game that moves this darned fast? I asked Greg what he thought and he stated something like

“You get killed a lot when you are learning the game.”

Wow. Think about that. You get killed a lot. You learn how it works by making mistakes. Mistakes aren’t only allowable, they are a necessary part of progressing to higher levels. If you “die” you just start the game over, a little smarter for the experience (hopefully!). I suppose if the game is just too hard, if you die too many times without feeling like you are making progress each time, you’d probably quit. But in a well designed game, the challenges come at just the right intensity to keep you reaching just beyond your capabilities into an area where the greatest learning takes place. Sound familiar? Vygotsky would get it.

The challenge? Create educational experiences where it’s not only ok to make mistakes, but where mistakes are an accepted and integral part of a learning process that pushes students just beyond where they are comfortable into a zone where the greatest learning takes place. How cool would that be?

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