Tag Archives: video games

Gamification at IETC

The Illinois Ed Tech Conference has been awesome.  I love seeing what others are doing.  I even get a lot from eavesdropping on other attendees.  This year, I am presenting on Video Games and Gamification, and I have been pleasantly surprised that others seem to know a bit about it.

Here are some great resources on Gamifying Education…

 

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I absolutely love a good infographic. 🙂

You should search up Extra Credits on YouTube, too- those guys have great information on video games in general. I don’t know how much time I have spent watching them.  We will just let that go…

Have a great weekend!

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A Brief Overview of Gamification

I am on a huge Gamification kick.  I love it- I think that there is a way to Gamify almost anything.

I had to create an infographic for a class that I am taking, and I wanted to embed it here, but I can’t figure out how to do that. 😦  If you are interested in learning more about Gamification, click the link below!

Gamification

Have a great weekend!

:)K

Research on MMORPGs: Not. Easy.

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Um. I suck so far.

My foray into the world of MMORPGs thus far has not been easy.  I can’t count the number of hours I have spent on forums and review sites.  I have a few conditions that I’d like to see met as I choose which to invest hours upon hours of time…

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Not Free to Play. Grr.

1. Free to Play.  I’d rather it wasn’t Pay to Win, too.  So far, it seems that the new F2P way EQII is doing things is more of a P2W format- all of the good races have to be paid for.  The ones left are okay, I guess, but I would want to be a Ranger, sooo…

Reviews are mixed.  Okay, sort of bad.

Reviews are mixed. Okay, sort of bad.

2. Popular. When I was looking into Second Life (I know it is a MUVE, not an MMORPG, but I am looking to do research here, so I had to exhaust my options), it became so obvious that the community was popular in 2006, but since then?  Wow- what a graveyard.  I don’t want to spend time on something that will be a flash in the pan and irrelevant weeks after I finish.  Unless you are looking to get some, ahem, base needs met, Second Life seems to be not for you.  

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Reviews claim it is boring.

3.  Fun.  I am more of a platformer sort of girl, so I’d like something that has a more open action style.  The best one I found for that was Tera Online, but according to the reviews, the quests are bland and boring.  Not cool.  Next!

Awesome reviews, but something tells me it ain't easy...

Awesome reviews, but something tells me it ain’t easy…

4. Kind of Easy.  Like I said, I am more of a platformer girl, so the difficulty of most MMOs is a turn-off for me.  Even the newer 3D platformers can be a little hard for me.  I am playing The Secret World right now, and I think I picked the wrong kind of weapon at the outset, so now the zombies are just tearing me to bits.  Why did I pick a sword when I could have picked a gun?  I’m stupid.

So where does that leave me?  Star Wars Galaxies gets iffy reviews, World of Warcraft isn’t free to play, Everquest 2 isn’t that popular anymore, Guild Wars 2 looks really hard… ugh!  I’m stuck.  Help!  I have always been a gamer, but not an RPG gamer.  There are things about them that I really like, though.

To give you an idea of where I am coming from, here is the beginning of a “novel” I started that is semi-autobiographical.  I’m the girl manager, and the guy manager is a friend of mine from back then.  I wrote this about ten years ago, so notice that GameCube and Everquest 1 are involved…

Granddad!

Granddad!

Chapter One

A man, fortyish, with long black hair and suspenders with skulls printed on them stood about a foot taller than the average man next to him.

“Do you go to the movies?” The scary man looked down at the other.

“Yeah.”

“How much does that cost ya?”

“I don’t know, about eight bucks.”

“Well.  Here’s the thing.  With this particular selection,” he held up a small box with a woman, scantily clad in a leather loincloth and a jeweled leather bustier adorning the cover, “You get all of the drama of a movie with interactivity.  It doesn’t last just two hours, either- it is there twenty-four hours a day, seven days per week.  And, it only costs ten dollars per month.  But, you get the first month free, so there is really no risk.” The scary tall man leered down at the smaller man.  “Whaddaya say?”

Alisa walked through the front door just in time- another lost soul was about to be born. “Louis!  Stop trying to turn my customers into brain dead idiots.”  She walked over to the unsuspecting victim.  “What did you come here to buy, sir?”

By now, the customer was so shell shocked, he could barely speak.  “The new Perfect Dark,” he barely managed the words under Louis’ penetrating stare.

“Right this way.”  She lead the man to the Nintendo section of the store and spoke to him, reassuringly, about the great reviews that his selection had garnered.  He seemed as though he had recovered.

When Alisa finished with the customer, she turned to Louis.  “This is not the Everquest store.  This is the other store, where customers are safe and souls aren’t stolen.  What are you doing here, anyway?  It’s your day off.”  She couldn’t help but smile a little.  Louis prided himself on being “evil,” but he typically cowered when she admonished him as he did now.  He didn’t even argue with her soul-stealing accusations.

“My store is out of Perfect Dark.  I came to transfer a few copies.”

“Oh no you don’t.  Those have been flying off the shelves.”

“Darren told me to.”  He almost sang the words, which seemed even funnier coming from someone who looked like Louis.  Darren was their district manager.  Alisa smoldered.  “Fine,” she said.  She looked over her shoulder, to the cash register where the traumatized man was completing his purchase.  “Erica!  Transfer five copies of Perfect Dark to store 67.”

Erica, Alisa’s assistant manager, smiled from behind the counter in that blank way of hers.  She swung her blond hair over her shoulder and drawled in her Texas accent, which seemed incredibly out of place in the suburbs of Chicago.  “Five copies of PD for N64.  Coming right up!”

“Very funny.” Louis didn’t have much patience for Erica.  She had the best of intentions- at least she seemed to, but she wanted either Alisa’s or Louis’s job so bad that they didn’t know what to think of her.  She could certainly sell, though.  Gamer guys weren’t used to seeing a little blonde behind the counter at stores like this.  Alisa considered herself a genius for having more girls on staff than guys.  She always argued when one of her fellow store managers complained that it was the reason that her store was number one in the region, but she secretly knew they were right.

Alisa and Louis walked to the back storeroom.  The room was large, with two doors along one wall and shelves around two sides of the room.  The shelves were littered with old marketing posters, accessories that didn’t fit on the walls, extra paperwork, extra shelves and brackets for the store, and other “stuff” – Alisa didn’t even know what was there.  Behind one door was the staff bathroom, which Alisa insisted be kept sparklingly clean at all times.  The other door was locked- it was another bathroom, but instead it was used to store systems- Xboxes, GameCubes, and PS2s.  There was another door, on the wall farthest from the store, which lead outside.  The final wall of the large storeroom was Alisa’s office.  Her desk was an old, beat-up, barely useable one but Alisa kept it immaculate.  The store’s finances, human resources, and marketing were all handled from this post.  Louis didn’t have this kind of space.  He looked around longingly as he always did.  His store was located inside the nearby mall whereas Alisa’s store was in a strip mall, so square footage was harder to come by for his store.

Alisa sat down on her “desk chair,” a metal folding chair.  Louis leaned against her desk and looked down at her.  It was a long distance when you took Louis’s 6’7” height against Alisa sitting down.  Even when she stood, she had to turn her face completely skyward to look at him.  She tried to hide the pain in her eyes as she spoke, for Louis’s sake.

“Have you heard anything?” Alisa asked.

“Not a thing.  I will let you know.”  Louis smiled, sadly.

“This is killing me, you know.”

“I know.”

(That’s as far as I got.  I know.  The suspense is killing me, too.)

:)Kristina

Six Thoughts on This Video

I love Ted Talks.  They are one of the chief ways I fall down rabbit holes.  After watching this one, I found myself to be incredibly conflicted.  There were things I loved and things I hated.

1. The Chocolate-Covered Broccoli Analogy (WIN): This was an analogy she made near the end of the talk.  She likened this to educational video games, which is spot-on.  Kids can see through the chocolate to the broccoli faster than we think, and they aren’t at all fooled.

2. Why First-Person Shooters? (BOO-HISS): I didn’t see anything in Ms. Bavelier’s talk that led me to believe that in order for there to be benefits, the game needs to be a FPS.  On the contrary, it seemed as though any game would do.  At the beginning of the talk, she gives a jarring statistic about the amount of play Call of Duty: Black Ops saw in the first month.  I think she used this as the justification for her focus on this genre.  I don’t feel comfortable with anything that justifies overly-violent play, I guess.  There are stats out there MORE jarring about World of Warcraft (I know it sounds more violent than Call of Duty, but trust me- it isn’t).  Then she could have made her message RPGs are good for you, rather than FPSs are good for you.

3. The Video Games/Wine Analogy (WIN): I think that our society has become so reactionary that things are either awesome or the devil.  We can’t just eat carbs in moderation, we need to CUT THEM FROM OUR DIETS COMPLETELY.  When Daphne talked about video games in moderation, I cheered (in my head).  Wine is good for you – in moderation.  Same as video games.  Becoming an alcoholic will not make you live longer, but a glass of wine with dinner might.  Becoming a video game junkie won’t help your brain, but five or ten hours of video games each week might.

4. Simplistic Tests that Don’t Relate (BOO-HISS): As a mother of a child with ADHD, I can tell you that there are two states I can expect from my son without fail: Hyper-attentive state and Relative Inattentive State.  He is either pretty inattentive or he is overly focused to the point of worry.  Like, in a trance-focused.  Like, try to get between him and whatever he is focused on and suffer the consequences-focused.  That is typical of kids with ADHD, and most people don’t realize it.  The claim that video games increase attention, accompanied by a color recognition test doesn’t really impress me.  Also, pre- and post- tests (before playing video games and after playing video games) that don’t control whether the subject did anything else to increase performance don’t impress me either.  If I went into a “brain” test where I knew I would be tested again in a couple of weeks, I would do some reading on brain tests in the meantime.  And then if I were going to be tested again in a few months, I’d brush up before that last test.  If the researcher asked me if I did anything of the sort, I’d lie.  I don’t want to look dumb, after all!

5. No Look at Morality (Meh): I know that this was a brain scientist, but she seemed so calculated in her assessments.  She chuckled about the fact that parents would be happier to find their kids playing Sudoku than Call of Duty.  I think that she is so out of touch that she thinks parents would be happier because it is a more academic past time.  Um, no.  Parents would be happier because Sudoku isn’t EVIL.  Sorry.  Parents (and teachers) are focused on the WHOLE PERSON, not just the brain.  Which makes a lot of your research irrelevant to us (because of #2).

6. Multitasking Myth Debunked (WIN): Yay!  Finally (again)!  When I see students around my building wearing headphones while doing school work, I want to cry. There is NO WAY they can give 100% effort to the task they should be doing.  I have done a lot of research on cognitive load, and their working memory just can’t handle all of that input at once.  I know I can’t, and I am an excellent student.

I would love to hear what you think.

Have a great day!

:)Kristina

My Video Game Experiment

Alternate Title: Yes, all of the crap they say is true.

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About two years ago, the peer pressure in my neighborhood got to be too much for me.  Not the kid on kid peer pressure- the adult parenting type.

A little background on me: I am a technology geek.  I love my gadgets.  I can’t imagine life without my iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro, or my Kindle.  I am working on a doctorate in Ed Tech.  I was a video game store manager for five years before I became a teacher.

But.  When parents came to my counter to purchase GTA: Vice City for their kids, I would give them “what’s wrong with you?” type lectures.  You did not buy an M game from me for your little kids without a side of shame.  The idea of kids playing violent, inappropriate video games just made me uncomfortable- even in my childless early 20’s.

Fast forward a few years.  When my son was eight (!) years old, he was the only kid in the neighborhood without an air soft gun.  He was the only kid in the neighborhood without Call of Duty on the XBox.  We didn’t even have an XBox.  We stuck with the Wii because it was more kid-friendly.

The other parents in our neighborhood started to roll their eyes at me.  I had to pull my son from one friend’s house because I walked in to find him playing Call of Duty.  I felt trapped.  I started to wonder: is it me?  Am I turning into one of those helicopter parents that I find insufferable?  I want my kids to find their own way, make good choices without my input, etc., etc., right?

So finally, when my son was at the point where he wasn’t allowed in any neighborhood friend’s house, I caved.  I feel ashamed to admit it now, but I did.  And for two years, I allowed him to play James Bond games and Halo games.  I still didn’t allow Call of Duty.  I felt like I had compromised.

It still felt wrong, though.  I would be sitting in the family room reading while he sat like a zombie in front of the television- Xbox Live with Halo Reach.  The sounds I was bombarded with were enough to make me squirm.  When I would look up from my book to see what was going on on-screen, I didn’t like what I saw.  The multiplayer campaigns were downright brutal.

Over the past two years, my son has become more aggressive.  Just fourth grade boy stuff, right?

So.  Sandy Hook happened.  I was a wreck.  I know I am not the only one, but I just felt pain to my core for those parents and teachers.  I felt like I needed to do something productive in the face of what happened.  Something that had been needling at me for two years.

I sat my son down and we talked about his games.  I told him how I was feeling.  We didn’t talk about Sandy Hook, but we did talk about the fact that I messed up when I copped to neighborhood pressure.  I apologized to him, and I took every M game in the house (aside from my copy of Alice and my hubby’s copy of Skyrim- we hid them) to GameStop and traded them in.  I added money to the total and let my son go on a $100 shopping spree to make up for all I was taking from him.  I told him that he could choose E games and T games that did not include violence.  Music and language in skateboarding and racing games don’t bother me.  I have a pretty bad mouth, to be honest, so I’d be a hypocrite.

The change.  Oh my goodness.  I can’t even begin to explain it.  His aggression has all but disappeared.  The video game addiction is still there, of course- Minecraft has ensured that.  But at least he is being creative rather than destructive.  And yes- I do limit his video game time.

There is research out there now that shows that more video game playing equals more aggression.  Also, even in adults, when people spend time as an avatar, they start to take on the characteristics of the avatar in their real life.  If their avatar is tall and muscular, adults will be more confident in real life.  For real.

So, my unscientific test was successful, which is scary.

I am reading an excellent book right now that explains this better than I can:

Infinite Reality: Avatars, Eternal Life, New Worlds, and the Dawn of the Virtual Revolution by Jim Blascovich and Jeremy Bailenson

If you have had experiences like this, I would love to hear about them…

Have a great day!

:)Kristina