Thursday, July 19, 2012

go play a video game

I should probably preface this post by saying that I personally do not play any video games.
I've never owned a gaming device in my life.
I can't get into it and I truly don't care to.

That said, after reading the Gee article "Good Video Games and Good Learning," I can see the merits of his argument. Sure, giving kids video games is a great way to hone their focus on a particular task. Sure, they might really enjoy and care about their engagement in a game. Sure, they will improve literacy skills and technology skills if they work with video games. I see the positive aspects and how gaming can be educational. I do not want to discredit this fact. 

Now into what I really want to say:

I hate 'em. I really hate 'em. 

I have grown up in a generation that is so consumed by video games that it literally breaks down the possibility of maintaining relationships. I think it is a task done in isolation (aside from fellow online gamers), that is attention consuming and becomes all important. I'm sorry, but killing zombies is not the way that I want to get my education. Put down the controller and pick up a book. 

I don't really know what kind of video games I could or would ever implement in a future history classroom. The only thing I can think of is Oregon Trail -- that game we played in 4th grade that was an interactive computer game that allowed kids to travel the manifest destiny journey. I don't think I really learned much from that game. I think that the majority of the information I want my future students to learn won't be teachable with video games. I'd like to be (maybe) proven wrong. (Well, I never like to be wrong, but I like to expand my knowledge). Until I see a practical application for video games in learning history, I am not an advocate of their use. 

In an effort to keep this short & sweet, I'd like to offer a little song interpretation to close.

Lana del Rey's song "Video Games" talks about a boy and girl in a relationship, the girl expresses her love while her boy plays video games. His idea of fun. His biggest distraction. His favorite hobby. Not her, video games. It speaks to the isolation of our generation in video games -- connecting with technology trumps connecting with people. The meaning is lost and emotions are shallow. You can enjoy the pleasant irony of Lana's words below, in my song-of-the-post.

Cheers, gamers. oops! i mean MACers ;-)


  1. Christine - At least you and I and Rachel hold somewhat the same feelings about gaming. I love Rachel's comment "Gamers our future saviors? What? Those men-boys that live in their mother's basement and haven't seen the sun in weeks?"

    I conceded that Jane McGonical's viewpoint may be visionary. But being a game developer, it might just be self-serving. Her statement “games are essential to the survival of the world” seems a bit much to me, but then again...

    Something is going on here. Regardless of what we might think, game development and gaming is a huge industry around the world. So perhaps we should pay attention, and ask what does it all mean?
    But then I realize, waste, fraud, incompetence, greed, and political corruption are also big "industries" around the world. But those things I can explain quite simply as the failed ascendancy of man. So, I don't know...

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  3. Here's a practical application of a video game: learning to fly. The cost of operating a computer or flight simulator is a fraction of the cost of the real thing. Mistakes are cheap. In case someone will argue it's not a game, speaking as a gamer and pilot, a flight simulator is definitely a game. And at the same time, enormously educational. It does not completely replace the real thing. But it builds fluency in the myriad skills you need as a pilot. The first time a Space Shuttle pilot lands the shuttle without power at over 200 mph, he/she has over 1500 hours of simulator time. Their instrument cross-check is highly polished, their emergency procedures are down cold, they know instantly if the glide path parameters don't look right.

    While it's true that many games are built for the sole purpose of selling units, gaming is also used to help people practice business skills, understand financial markets, perform surgery, learn math, teach history to kids that won't read books. As for interactions with people, MMORPGs feature rich social structures. How many of us have friends that we meet up with for an hour or more, perhaps several times/week, lend them money, help them get something done (and have fun doing it), try something epic?

    I was around for the first video game, Pong. I've been seeing unrestricted growth in game applications and market size for 35 years. I can't wait to see what will be available another year from now.

    There are technological haves and have nots. I think the reason people end up as "haves" is that they try stuff. Look around. Give it a go.