What is it about Video Games that will cause a person to sit there for hours and hours, continually fail and start over, but still enjoy their experience?
(And how can I get a little of that in my classroom....)
So for one of my graduate classes, I was tasked with playing, Kingdom Rush, by Ironhide. The genre of Kingdom Rush is tower defense and it capitalizes on quick strategy, placement of different tower types, and money management. Overall, it requires the user to think both proactively and reactively, in that the level design and types of monsters drives the player's decision on where and what type of tower to place. You also have to know when to upgrade your tower or choose to sell it and place a different type of tower as the battlefield changes. And sometimes you have to quickly react as the game may just throw you a curveball in the form of some game mechanic that you were not expecting.
One thing held true in my multiple hour session of playing this game (and I'm sure it happened to you too...): You will fail, a lot. I've played this game many times before and beaten it on a couple of occasions. However, it was still challenging at times in the higher difficulty levels as it requires so much management and precision timing. I found that in the basic levels, I used a lot of the same strategies in which towers I was placing. However, the challenge levels will take certain towers and abilities away from you and you have to adapt your strategy. Overall, it is a great game and is super addicitive to play and I always found myself thinking of different ways that I could have won after completing the level.
It makes me start thinking, why do I keep playing this game even though I would keep losing on certain levels? Seriously there were a couple of those challenge levels where I would defeat like 99% of the enemies but the boss at the end just wouldn't go down and I'd lose after playing like 10 minutes. Many times I wanted to rage quit this game, but something about it just kept drawing me back. Now what I'm really thinking about is how can I get my students in class to be this engaged to my content and WANT to continue coming back even after failing.
So just a couple of random notes that I kept while playing: 1) I'm allowed to fail (often), 2) The difficulty of the game did a great job of increasing in difficulty slowly throughout the game, 3) There is a tutorial-esqe level for each new tower type as it gets introduced to the player, 4) I can beat a level using any strategy that I can come up with as long as I'm allowed to use a certain tower.
All of these ideas are essential to education and even though they seem like common sense, the education world has not been built upon their principles in the past. Allowing our students to be able to fail is a core concept within education. When a student fails, they need to be allowed to rework their solution and resubmit their work after some new learning has occured. When you are teaching new concepts, you cannot just start with the hardest content and hammer on it without understanding the basics first. You need to be allowed to use many different tools, strategies, etc to complete the task at hand.
The use of gaming in education as a Emerging Technology is something I'm extremely in. I would like to do more work like this in understanding how I can bring in all the positives that surround gaming and how we can better our teaching through these concepts!