Star Wars….and Gee?

When I was watching TV today, this advertisement came up:

It’s a video game that just came out recently called “Star Wars- the Old Republic” (I’m sure many of you have already heard of this game). What really caught my attention was the concept of choosing a side, and having just read the Gee book, it struck me that this game embodied Gee’s very idea of conceptual models and morality for the player (Chapter 6, if you want to refresh your memory). If you’ve ever played the game or read about it, you’ll know that this game allows the player to not only choose a “good” or “bad” side, but to also develop the character in terms of the player’s own conceptual model, whether it is turning a character from the “bad” side and then making good choices to eventually defer over to the “good” side through action, or whether it is converting a character from the “good” side and making choices that would serve for selfish gain, eventually driving the character towards the heart of evil. This makes it almost impossible for you, as the player or as an observer, to determine what is truly “right” or “wrong” in the game.

Interestingly enough, this game was also developed by Bioware, the same company that developed Mass Effect. Therefore, distinct characteristics, such as being able to choose different conversation pieces and missions, are available in order to develop and further your character. Whether you want to choose a conversation piece that is malevolent and violent to further the dark side, or a mission  to improve the good of humanity, it really all depends on what you think is best for your character (or maybe even to satisfy your curiosity of what might happen if you push this button.)

Books vs. Video games

I was browsing Google Reader when I came across this:

Titled, “Reading Technology”, the comic compares books to video games in a humorous way (siding more in the side of books, while Professor Fishman had provided the satirical description of books to get rid of negative viewpoints of video games). Just thought it’d be a good laugh as we continue to observe and learn about the battle of books and video games in the educational field. 🙂

Choose Your Own Adventure

When Professor Fishman asked us to pick a game for the semester, I began my search in the Mario Universe, hoping to find a highly entertaining but challenging game to keep me occupied and engaged. I casually mentioned this to my boyfriend, who then got all excited and asked me to try out Mass Effect and to consider it as my game for the semester. (Did I mention he’s been trying to get me to play it all summer? As a female gamer, I’ve always been more attracted to cutesy games and games in which I know that I can shoot randomly in all directions with other more experienced gamers will keep me safe- thank you, Halo.) I finally gave in and sat down to play it, and then realized, about 15 minutes into game play, that this video game was pretty much like a virtual “Choose Your Own Adventure” Book, where your actions and your choices of conversation will eventually “mass effect” the ending of your game play and how things will turn out (how clever.)

Now, I was a huge reader when I was a kid (and still am), and I especially loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Sometimes I would actually follow the rules and turn to the right pages, other times I would cheat by finding the ending I liked the most and working backwards, and there were some times when I would just outright read random pages to entertain myself. Coupled with the first few lectures in which Professor Fishman introduced the idea of videogames in education, and the whole “books vs. videogames” argument, this piqued my interest. I went to the website of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, and was actually surprised.

Who knew that these series of books were entirely based written by a man who developed video games?? Apparently, he recognized that there were RPG elements in these adventure books and decided to run with it. With people praising the entertainment and education of these books, would they continue to rave about the educational value if they knew that all these books had been really based off of video game elements and a developer? With video games coming under increasing scrutiny in the educational field, I wonder if people would actually try to have more books written in a “video game” form.