It’s (almost) the first week of the month, which means that it’s time for another VGHVI Symposium! I’ve got a big ambition for this one–I want to open some avenues of discussion about the connection between fun, play, and game on the one hand, and learning on the other. I think I’ve hinted to some VGHVIers that despite my admiration for Raph Koster, I find his A Theory of Fun seriously lacking in this regard, and we can probably use my disagreement as a jumping-off point. David’s also suggested that we talk about the nature of feedback in games, which I think fits beautifully with the topic.
We’re going to do this as a Google+ Hangout, since it worked well last time.
We’ll meet Thursday at 9:30 EDT / 6:30 PDT. Here’s my Google+ Profile, if you’re not already in my circles.
I’m not wedded to talking about it this month, but in case the conversation goes that way: one of my big bugaboos when I was a professor was trying to figure out a productive way to deal with certification: I see feedback in general as incredibly valuable towards learning (and one of the main benefits of schools that they increase the number of interactions where feedback can be provided), but I see feedback in the form of certification as actively harmful towards learning in many contexts, and far too much feedback in schools is certification-driven. (It’s impossible as a professor to completely avoid certification-driven feedback, and very hard to actively carve out spaces that are relatively untouched by certification concerns.)
Dragging this back to games, they’re great at providing feedback, but scoring systems start pulling feedback in a direction that seems not dissimilar to certification (though it’s certainly not the same), and that has some of the same flaws. And, of course, feedback in games has different flaws, too: a rule system just can’t give as wide a range of feedback as a human teacher. (But there are benefits as well: it’s always there for you if you want it, for example.)
Glad to have an excuse to read A Theory of Fun!
Chris Dahlen’s recent Dark Souls post might also be relevant for this week’s discussion: http://savetherobot.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/the-great-big-puzzle-box-a-close-look-at-dark-souls-ingenious-difficulty-as-witnessed-by-one-dead-guy-in-sens-fortress/
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