Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gamification - Playing and Learning Collaboratively

This week in my Emerging Technologies course, we were tasked with playing Kingdom Rush, with an emphasis on playing collaboratively.  I was paired with Amanda Harris, another student in my class, who didn't have a distinctive love for video games.  We were also asked to read an article by Kurt Squire called "Video Games in Education" which I will also reference and link down below.

My gaming experience was a lot of fun this week, as I said in my previous posting regarding Gamification in the Classroom, I love playing video games.  Kingdom Rush is a game that I've not beat a couple of times and I feel like I have a very good grasp on how to easy work through the levels using a couple of different strategies.  Now the big difference between this week and last week, is that I was supposed to focus on the collaborative aspect.  My partner Amanda, is not as big into gaming as I was, but I was able to help her out by giving her a couple of tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way.  I would say that I probably didn't gain a huge amount of knowledge regarding new tactics and strategies, but the questions that Amanda would ask definitely made me think about why I was doing certain strategies at various times.  It helped me a lot with solidifying what I knew and that what I was doing was the best application of each strategy.

What is the big difference between playing singularly and collaboratively?
In my experience, playing on my own in Kingdom Rush results in having to use the trial and error technique in each level.  When I would get to a level that I couldn't remember or just hadn't played in awhile, I would basically try my basic strategy to see if that would get me through.  Playing singularly is never very much fun for me because I'm just always trying to figure things out on my own and if I hit a point in which I can't pass something, I become very frustrated.

Playing collaboratively, whether it be a small or large group, allows the player to bounce ideas off of other people who are also familiar with the game.  I think it helps having played the game on our own the last week because it did force us to try a lot of different strategies.  We found out what does and doesn't work in each stage, with an emphasis on what didn't work....

The one thing that would help in this kind of a class project, is choosing a game that more easily lends itself to collaboration.  Don't get me wrong, I love Kingdom Rush, but there are a lot of games that are specifically designed around the concept of working together towards a common goal.  Examples of games being used in education for collaborative learning include but are not limited to:  Minecraft, SimCity 5, Second Life, The Sims, Farming Simulator 2013.  It would be fun to continue our learning by trying out a game that has an integrated multiplayer component, just to see if our experiences are any different.

How do I feel about getting assistance in beating the game?
When I played Kingdom Rush for the first time, I used a lot of different Youtube Videos in order to beat a lot of the challenge levels.  At the time, I can remember feeling justified in doing that just because you had to specifically do certain things at certain times.  In other words, the levels are very unforgiving and even a single mistake can mean that you will not pass a level.  I would get to the point where I had failed so many times, that I was willing to see how others beat the level.  Now last week in my Emerging Technologies class, we talked about whether or not this was cheating.  I'm still very much on the fence about it, but I can definitely see both sides of the argument.  On one hand, I did have to look at another person's work in order to continue on, however from the other side, I would not have learned that strategy on my own and now I actually use it proficiently in other levels.  It's very much a person decision for the player or educator.  Now having thought about it, seeing how someone beat just one level was more of a collaboration activity to me, but if I had watched how to do every level with no thought from myself, then I would still see that as cheating.

As far as my partner is concerned, I know having someone to help her through the levels was a big help.  Not everyone is going to have the kind of deep level knowledge of a game like everyone else, and having an expert to talk to and ask questions is always a great way to pass along knowledge and learn.  It also really built my own confidence in myself, it's just nice to be an expert at something every once in awhile.  I love teaching, I love helping others accomplish goals, and I like seeing that I'm making a positive impact in someone's learning.  There needs to be so much more of this in education.

Thanks for reading my post!

Jeremy Cooper


Game:  Kingdom Rush by Ironside
Video Games in Education by Kurt Squire

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