Sunday, October 28, 2012

ECOO - Gaming is "in"

I've already reflected, wearing my "educator hat" on my experiences at the annual ECOO (the Education Computing Organization of Ontario) conference - you can see what I wrote at . I want to think about it from a gaming / gamer point of view.

There were a lot of sessions dedicated to video games at the conference. I was only there on Friday but even on just that one day, there was:
1) Teaching Math, History and Geography Through Video Games by David Hutchison
2) Engaging at-risk boys through the use of video games by Jeff Pelich
3) Play with TNT & Other Lessons from Minecraft by Liam O'Donnell, Diana Maliszewski & Denise Colby

I ran the third and the first two were on simultaneously, so I couldn't attend all of them. I went to the second one and learned about some neat new games. I couldn't download one I really wanted - Mechanarium - because it's for iPad2 and up. Bummer! However, I did buy Gesundheit and my son really likes it. In fact, he has written an epic novel (in his words) about Gesundheit in Minecraft.

There are a lot of people interested in games and education. It's interesting to see how they position themselves. I was reading this very cool article that Daniel Joseph shared on his Twitter feed about how ethnographic researchers in MMOs position themselves as experts by reporting how long and often they played the game. Then there's the flip side: a friend of mine was chatting with the author of a paper on Second Life and the author had never played the game ever, despite having written extensively on it.

The same is true for those in the field of education - Jeff Pelich began his talk by emphatically stating that he is NOT a gamer. This took me a bit by surprise, especially since later on in his session, he described playing Plants vs Zombies for two weeks straight before playing it with his students. How can you play but not be a player? My colleagues and I discussed the possible reasons and theorized that it could be a stigma to be seen as a gamer. Gamer might equal social outcast, nerd, or dweeb.

The philosophy of the GamingEdus, the group that plays Minecraft, is that it's important for adults to play, to game alongside the students as an equal. I can testify that I'm no "uber-gamer" - you'll see an upcoming post about me and "Minecraft Welfare" but I do feel that people that want to use the game should play the game.

Enough pontificating - back to playing Minecraft (and uploading photos from our recent Risk Legacy game with surprising results!)

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