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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Play With Purpose

The following are excerpted from my class blog for my educational gaming graduate course.

Gee's identity principle has application not only in gaming, in my experience, but also in reading. One of the foundational principles I believe narratives (whether fiction or nonfiction) play for a person is that they provide the reader with a safe opportunity to experience someone else’s life. As an elementary school librarian, one of my purposes is to introduce students to that experience, and help them find meaning in that experience so they continue to seek it out. My favorite games, in fact, have been those that allow the same type of costuming as my favorite types of books. “Being” Link is like “being” Bilbo Baggins. In deep play, where the child is totally absorbed in his or her created “world,” I think melds the principles of identity and manipulation. If as an educator I could tap into that deep play state, I believe deep learning can take place. 

In his video interview, Zimmerman states “Games are like buildings we inhabit….a space of possibilities where anything is possible.” Thinking of a game designer as an architect who is building a space and setting the rules by which the players interact with and in the space made the concept begin to make more sense to me. In Salen’s video, she defines game design as a way of looking at the world. If I start with those similar views of game design, I feel like then my approach to designing games will move to more specific questions. What is the ultimate goal of my world? What are the physical properties? How many people can inhabit my world at once? How do they interact with the world? With each other? How can you achieve the ultimate goal? How will players know when they've achieved it? “Game design is a process by which a game designer creates a game, to be encountered by a player, from which meaningful play emerges.” (p. 80)
[A small commentary on some people's perceptions of World of Warcraft, which is required play for my class. How cool is that!]
I started categorizing reactions I got when I told people I was playing WoW. They all have fallen into one of these categories:

1. [raised eyebrows] "Seriously?" or more directly "That's really lame."
2. [disapproving grimace] "I know people who ruined their lives over WoW addictions and an inability do deal with normal life."
3. [happy dance] "You too?! What world are you in, what class/level are you, what's your name and when do you want to meet to play together?!"

My responses are:
1. [varied emotional reaction] "Yes, seriously." and "No, it's not." (Mental note: don't bring it up with this person again.)
2. [Silence] "Ummmm." (Mental note: don't bring it up with this person again.)
3. [reciprocal happy dance] "Suramar, Hunter class 13, Theragarai, and as soon as we can log on!" (Mental noe: Yippee! I found a friend!)