Kid Goes Crazy About His Game

I am pretty sure most of you have seen this video already, but I looked at a recent post, and I have not seen it. Personally I find it very funny, but I think it can also be an educational video.

I thought it might be a good idea to post it here since we were talking about World of Warcraft in class and how it can help you to get certain skills required to get a job. Here is a video which is not going to support this argument, but will be more of a reminder for every one to take breaks while playing their games during the semester. I think that the kid from this video might be a great example of someone who forgot to take breaks while playing his favorite World of Warcraft and completely forgot about the real world. It is easy to tell that the boy really lost control over what is going on. I think that he does not understand the problem he has. The problem is that he is not able to distinguish the difference between his real personality and his game character. It is probably the effect of not taking breaks from the game and also the fact that apparently his parents reacted too late to their son’s addiction to that game. I believe that one of the best methods of learning is to learn from someone else’s mistakes rather than committing them yourself.

Puzzle Shooters? (spoilerish alert)

Jump to the bottom to see the pretty videos, if you’re like me and have no patience…

I just wanted to point out some new games that have come out in the last two weeks that defy standard catergorization, by being creative and putting new twists onto an old game:  the FPS.  You see, I’m not really taken in by the “novelty” of being more real.  COD?  How is Black Ops REALLY that different from the first COD?  How are the newest sports games REALLY different from past ones?  How are the newest fighting games REALLY different from the old ones?  More real, more complex.  (Though I have to say that I found the insanity of the combat and storyline in COD:BO, to be rather… unrealistic, and the people I know who spent time in the Army agree.  I mean, really?  One or two people versus a hundred – or more?  I don’t think so. Special ops only works in real life when they don’t know you’re there!)  Anyways, one way that “new” game types are created is by combining genres.  In this case, FPS and puzzles, as in the two games below. 

In case you haven’t been inundated with the ads yet (I’m sure most computer gamers already know about this, at least) Portal 2 came out yesterday.  Portal 1 was what I have best seen summarized as a “glorified tech demo” in which the developers played with the idea of having a gun that can create a portal you can walk through on (almost) any surface, to (almost) any other surface.  It’s a FPS, but only in that you have a gun that shoots something – but not people, just portals.  In fact, in the entire game, you character is the ONLY human you see the entire time and then almost only through the portals (see about 1:25 in this vid where the character is literally chasing themself through some portals.  Worse than a dog chasing its tail!).  It’s really a puzzle game, in which the goal is to get through multi-dimensional mazes.  The premise is that you are a “test subject” in an Aperture Labs facility, and you learn more and more sophisticated ways of using the portals (and learning about 3D thinking, momentum, velocity, frames of reference, gravitational acceleration, etc.).  You then use this new knowledge and your convenient portal generating gun to escape from GLaDOS, the evil supercomputer AI that is trying kill… ahem… I mean test you.  Spoiler alert:  You DO escape (assuming you win) and leave GLaDOS in a sorry state.  (Destroyed?)

Nope.  Not destroyed.  Portal 2 brings us back to the lab, where we find ourselves as test subject AI robots, that can now work cooperatively to pass the tests… and then what?  I don’t know.  It’s also cool because there is a cooperative mode, where two people have to work together to get to the end.  Finally, there are challenges, for time, fewest steps taken, etc.  Motivation to earn them all, I would say.

Sanctum is the newest and most interesting Tower Defense game I have ever seen.  Again, the developers add the 3D FPS aspect to the game, and learn by trying the puzzles over and over again.  This game has a fair amount of “just in time” info provided, and again, in a first for tower defense, I believe, there is a cooperative mode.  There is also an “infinite” mode in which you try to last as long as possible against wave after wave of alien destruction, which of course is tied to the leaderboards… motivation, anyone?

Both games meet more of Gee’s principles than you can shake a stick at, opportunities for Flow, ways of “cheating” (or is it?), problem solving, identity issues, motivation (intrinsic and extrinsic), reflection, and enough other “educational” aspects that you could make a career of studying them… or at least until the next big thing comes out…

Video Games & … Medicine?

While stumbling (it seems that StumbleUpon is a rich resource for blogging fodder) I came across an interesting website which I assumed to be a collection of thought-provoking games.  As I read through the website, however, and began to play some of the games, I realized that the games had been developed for a reason other than entertainment.  One of these games, developed by Singapore-MIT game lab, was developed to help clinically depressed persons see the beauty in life and ultimately relieve their depression. The game is called “Elude” and the website’s description of it says:

“Developed by Singapore-MIT Gambit Game LabElude is a dark, atmospheric game that aims to shed light on the nature of depression. You play a little guy exploring a beautiful yet forbidding world. The world has three distinct levels, each a metaphor for a different mental state.

The forest that you start the game in represents a normal mood. You can ascend to a higher plane – happiness – by climbing the trees in the forest. From, here you can leap joyously up into the sky by jumping on floating flowers and leaves. The leaves and flowers disappear after you have touched them and eventually none are left to keep you aloft and you plunge down into the third game area: depression.”

This struck me as odd; a video game supplying some medical remedy instead of a doctor or medicine.  But after considering this for a while, I began to realize, why couldn’t a video game help to cure someone of their depression?  A game has the potential to elevate someones mood, even give thema different outlook on life. But that largely depends on the elements of the game.  Does one connect with the character?  Does the story accomplish the goals it sets out to achieve? I ask these questions after playing a short online video game, but perhaps this concept could be expanded into a longer video game.  And perhaps it already has? Would you consider games like “The Sims” or “Second Life” to be an example of this game, being that a player can create a character in their image but give them a better/different life that they can control? Are there studies that show the effects of these games from Singapore-MIT game lab? Discovering this game has led to more questions than answers, but it is just another link between the worlds of video games and learning.

Play Elude Here

The Benefits of A Timeless Time-Waster

Eagle-Vail airport, with it’s 5 terminals and planes that you actually have to walk onto the runway to get onto, understandably does not have much going on.  In today’s age where modern airline transportation is becoming more like space travel and less like boarding a bus, it is somewhat of a culture shock to be in an airport where you can stand in the center and see both ends.  It’s the end of spring break and we have arrived early for our flight.  There’s a small shop with no candy and a small restaurant with bad food.  The aisles are lined with sleepy parents and over emphatic kids, screaming about some card game where apparently the rules are not important in order for one to win.  With too much time to sit around, we wander the small airport, stumbling upon the holy grail of boring airports.  There, tucked between a wall and the bathroom, sits an old Pac-Man machine.  It was a curious site; the airport, like the town it resided in, was built in rustic, mountain/western fashion with lots of wood and forest green trim.  This neon colored 1970’s black box seemed like an oddity, but it was a welcoming site.  We immediately began to pool our change so we could play.  We passed the hour and a half wait very quickly, and happily boarded the plane having spent our time playing what proved to be a great time-waster.  I found that the most interesting thing about the game was the high scores.  I don’t remember if they were any more or less impressive than other games that I’ve seen, however their existence told me that over the years this game has served other bored travelers the same way it is currently serving us.  More modern airports, with their mall-like presence and endless sources of entertainment, might have been more appealing to another traveler, but we were perfectly content in that small airport playing Pac-Man, the perfectly timeless time-waster.

realistic videogames vs. videogames in reality

This music video will rock your “what if” world.  Bonus points if you know the game.  Double bonus if you actually played… (no, bonus points do count towards your grades.)

Augmented Reality

So, Eric K. spoke about how we can use mobile phones to augment reality and learning.  There are other groups working on this, not necessarily from a K12 educational standpoint, but from an everyday use and just-in-time / need-to-know learning standpoint….

Peach and Zelda: Girl Time

So what do the heroines of Zelda and Mario talk about when they’re off-duty?
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