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Monday, February 2, 2015

Collaboration and Gaming: an update

So stuck at home on a snowy Sunday, I decided to start leveling a new World of Warcraft character (Sabreiyna, Human, Rogue, Suramar). After following many player behavior related articles on sites such as Polygon, I was interested, and frustrated, to have my own first experience with obnoxious players. In this case, quite a few Alliance players, myself included, were questing in Westfall, a lower level human area. Two Horde players kept attacking the quest giver mob and killing him before any Alliance players could accept or turn in quests. If you're unfamiliar with WoW, one of the main parts of the game is pursuing quest chains. You accept a quest geared to your level, and it leads to a number of other quests that allow you to gain items and experience that increase your levels, giving you access to more areas, items, mounts, etc. Many players quest with their guild or a friend or two, and some quest alone. 

So as these Horde players killed the quest giver, the number of us waiting to be able to turn in quests started piling up. Those who were flagged as PvP (Player vs. Player, which means they can battle other players) waited on the Horde players' corpses to attack them as soon as they respawned. This tactic, called corpse camping, is usually looked on as mild bullying, but in this case was in response to an unwarranted attack on the fun of the game. 

As players grumbled in the chat box, a player organized a others with magical abilities to rain meteors continuously, while others corpse camped to take out the Horde as soon as they respawned. Everyone stuck around until all those of us waiting to turn in quests were through. (A few of us also got zapped with a dancing spell, so I got to do the macarena while I watched, since I'm not flagged for PvP.) The chat discussion afterward turned to speculation that the two Horde players were actually bots, since they respawned at exactly the same time and used the same spells. Bots are a thorn in Blizzards side, because they're almost impossible to catch and trace, and even if they are, often pop up with different names elsewhere.

So what does this have to do with school libraries, information literacy, or 21st century learning?

A real time problem with pressing importance to those it affects creates in those stakeholders a desire to solve that problem that supersedes social boundaries or roles and mobilizes innate knowledge and skills.

As educators, our priority should be to provide students with basic academic and social skills, nurture individual specific talents and interests, and foster an environment that allows for natural collaboration to take place. I'm not suggesting you allow one student from another class to sabotage the work of another class, but that real world problems that catch the passion of your class are allowed to be pursued, and that instructional standards are then applied to the work, instead of the standards creating work that the students don't understand or care about. Should every aspect of class life revolve around solving problems? Only if you have the time to still make sure you're addressing standards and are able to document student growth. I just suggest that you balance the two styles so that students are not only prepared, but also learn to be intrinsically motivated by solving real problems.