Sunday, March 06, 2011

More on gaming

Over on a discussion at the EC Ning, Andres Esquivel Jr shared this TED talk:

And while I replied within the context of that particular discussion, I think I still have quite a bit more to say on the issue. And for once I actually feel pretty confident about what I'm saying. (In fact, I just took a quick break to add "play theorist" to my profile!)

A bit of background - first of all, I don't see myself as an avid gamer. I do play World of Warcraft, but while many players have multiple characters of different types at maximum level, I've got one. I almost always play by myself rather than in groups. I don't know that I've ever played another multiplayer game. Wait - no - I think I've played two or three songs in Rock Band. (I wasn't bad, but then, I was just the singer.) And perhaps more significantly, I began playing as an adult.

Maybe it's because of the resulting distance from play, or maybe it's just because I'm WEIRD. I don't know. But I find myself as engaged by the systems and the reasoning behind them as I do by the experience of playing.

I've finished up my yearbook work for the weekend but I still have a class set of notebooks to check & respond to. As a result, I think I'm just going to copy-paste in the quick notes I took on the seven things-we-should-do points Chatfield made in his TED talk:

  1. XP bar measures progress - I have liked this idea for some time but it's hard to do; see my remark below.

  2. multiple long & short-term aims; lots of small tasks (quests) that both produce small rewards (XP & loot) that lead to bigger rewards (levels). THIS, I think, we can at least begin to do.

  3. Reward effort - not sure about this one. If a monster kills you, you don't get the XP for it. In fact, you face an in-game penalty because you have to pay in-game money to get your in-game equipment repaired. "Teeny reinforcements" I agree with.

  4. Rapid, frequent, clear feedback. Tougher to do in person though. And we already know this is incredibly helpful in education. In WoW, it tells you how much damage you take from each time something hits you, and it tells you how much damage you DO from each hit you make, and how much something heals you, or if a power is available, or if you've activated something special, and this is tailored to your character to reduce the amount of noise on screen BUT you also have the flashy show of using your powers, so that others can see that you're helping out.

  5. He says "uncertain rewards," I say varying levels of reward at different levels of likelihood. This also applies to story endings - we want something that makes complete sense (that fits our expectations of what is likely to happen) but that isn't predictable.

  6. Windows of enhanced attention - huh? he didn't explain this as much as others.

  7. Collaboration - this one needs to be expanded as well. There are more threads than he explored (all he mentioned were DKPs)

"We can break things down into highly-calculated small tasks." Can we? I mean, it's not hard to calculate how many quests I will need to complete at 100 points per quest to get to the next level if I'm 1000 points from the next level! BUT. It is MUCH harder to calculate how many metaphors I need to explain in literal terms to get to the next level of understanding... whatever that is!

Re point 3 - I think he means reward BEHAVIOR. Studies have shown that when you offer rewards for simple, achieveable behaviors you get more of them; when you offer rewards for complex tasks, there's no resultant gain.

Okay. I'm off to add to my article bank and close out some tabs. I've had a lot going on in my head lately about Wisconsin and all of that as well. Don't know if that'll come to a post any time soon... WE MUST FINISH THE BOOK! :D

Wish me luck! :)


Clix said...

!! Oo, now I'm angry. I specifically told it to use an ordered list, and I get an unordered list? Grrr..

But. Not angry enough to do anything about it. Really not all that angry, actually. Maybe just annoyed.

Governor Walker, you? YOU have got me ANGRY. :P

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