Friday, September 21, 2012

Borderlands 2, as seen by the "lurker"

My husband was very excited this week, because Borderlands 2 came out. My son has not received any new video games recently and is unlikely to own the ones on his wish list until Christmas (long story, one he wouldn't want me to share online) so he's spent quite a bit of time watching his dad play. I thought I'd interview the boy because 1) it'd be neat to hear his perspective, 2) it's good practice for him to organize his thoughts, and 3) it'll give his father a break from having a constant audience while he plays.

Me: What is Borderlands 2 all about?

P: Borderlands 2 is about new characters replacing the old vault hunters from the original Borderlands. The goal of the game is, I think it's, to collect all the vaults. Of course, the interest of Borderlands is there's a lot of enemies and a lot of guns. Who's a man without a lot of guns?

Me: What's the best part of this game? What's the worst?

I don't really have a best or worst part of the game so far, but there's a lot of things in this game that you couldn't even count. Enemies, guns, bosses, name 'em all folks!

Me: How is this different from the original?

This is different because there is new characters and new guns. There's classes. There's the gunzerker, who can use two guns at once. [clarifies with father] There's the commando, who can create a turrett. [consults with father] There's a siren who can do something.

Me: Why do you like to watch Dad play the game?

Well, there's a lot of things - the graphics, what's going all, the action, all the bam-bams (from guns) and rarrrrs from the enemies.

Me: Would you ever play this game? Why or why not?

I would like to play this game with my friend C at school because he seems to really like to use fake guns, so I think this would be a fun game for me and him. This might be a little difficult to me as I watch Dad play, so it might be a medium game, medium tough.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

We defeated the Ender dragon! Now for gamification experts!

This is a screen shot of an epic moment for the GamingEdus - the members of the GamingEducators Minecraft server. We defeated the Minecraft Ender Dragon! Let me tell you about it.

Phisagrim had been wandering around with Chandrasutra ... wait, let me allow Phisagrim himself to dictate the action:

We were trying to find a stronghold which had a portal to the end but it was unfortunately, no good. We never found one. Later, Liragrim helped me and we were in an abandoned mine ourselves. Since I was in creative, I decided to make a portal. I remembered the portal shape when I was looking on the Internet, on YouTube. I was inside the frame of the portal and when I placed the last Ender Eye - BOOM! - I was in the End. The dragon attacked me right away. I wanted to wait for Liragrim but she didn't know where I was; she was busy filling up a space for the portal. She saw the portal and she jumped in. Of course, when I was attacking the dragon, he was healing. I noticed weird little beams came from these crystals that were on fire and I said to Liragrim "We better take out his Christmas trees." We took out every single one of the crystals and we were hitting it and hitting it but it was taking too long so we called Terragrim to help us fight the dragon. Eventually, he was at half health and I knew we could do this easily. When all of his health was gone, he crackled to bits. He started to gleam or shine and more of his body fell off. Soon, all that I saw was a lot of experience. That is my report, thank you for listening.

It was very exciting. I think it would've been impossible if we were not in creative mode because the dragon swooped and soared a lot to attack and avoid us. Phisa felt it was slightly cheap that we were invinsible when we killed the dragon. He also failed to mention that I delivered the final, decisive blow. Awesome!

Not to get too political, but shortly after this amazing accomplishment, I joined a TLCafe webinar on what I thought was on September startup suggestions from three librarians. I missed the first two speakers but the last one was discussing how, although she is not a gamer herself, she uses game elements like badges to get her staff to gain achievements so they will be more tech-savvy. I have to say I was not pleased - as you may have seen me write before, I have issues with folks who Frankenstein elements from games without the context of the games themselves. There was a back-channel to the webinar and I didn't intend to make a fuss but I had to air an alternate viewpoint to the one that was presented. Part of me was ashamed (I'd dislike it if during one of my presentations, I had someone being quite critical of my methodology in public) but part of me was proud (because the 95 people virtually attending this session at least were exposed to a different approach to games in education due to my comments). I spoke with some of the adults on the GamingEdus Minecraft server to assauge my conscience and one pointed out that I was late to the PD because I was playing the game itself, with my children, on an authentic purpose they chose - and for us, this is what it's about. (P.S. You can see what I said on the TLCafe archives and let me know if I was out of line or not.)