In part 1, I explored ideas relating to the current state of video game culture, the way video games have evolved with the ubiquity of social media and video sharing, and how our students participate in this culture.
Here, in part 2, I’m examining how gamers have personalities, why we should view students as gamers, and why we need to view and approach lesson design in the way games engage gamers.
Years ago, a friend of mine Gregory Chomichuk, introduced me to a great YouTube channel called Extra Credits that explores a variety of concepts related to video game design theory; quality storytelling, engaging game mechanics, appealing aesthetics, difficulty settings, quality level design, the creation process, and even gamifying education are but a few of the topics. The crew at Extra Credits excellently delivers information. Their approach using visuals to reinforce concepts is a major plus. They take challenging topics and make them understandable. It’s great, check it out.
Fast forward to autumn 2015, when the above-mentioned Gregory shows me the video titled “Bartle’s Taxonomy: What Type of Player Are You?” Please watch:
I instantly started seeing parallels between the player types*, and myself and my students. The semi-eccentric kid who doodles on everything and marches to the beat of their own drum is the explorer. The eager go-getter who must complete all assignments with a high mark is the achiever. The kid who acts upon their peers through some form of attention seeking or type A behaviour is the killers. The kid(s) who ONLY want to talk and socialize…all the time are the socializers!
*”player type” is not synonymous with learning styles (kinaesthetic, verbal, visual, etc.) “Player type” is the preferred way with which a player (person) interacts within a particular social environment.
I saw myself as these player types, both as a learner and a gamer. I quickly identified myself as an explorer and achiever. I like to go for the game’s (or lesson’s) stated goals, but I like taking the time to go on tangents and explore. Which leads me to my third point: these spectrums are flexible and people can fall in multiple categories. Some are clearly one type of player, some fall into multiple categories.
I was provoked by the part in the video that talks about the video game environment Bartle researched. How players played games for different reasons,and although there was lots of disagreement, there was not one type of voice that stood out. But neither was there 1000 different voices saying different things. It was uncanny how these massive roleplaying game communities sound a lot like a classroom full of students.
In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell examines some the reasons behind success from an interesting angle. Among other things, he cites the 10 000-Hour Rule as one indicator of success. The 10 000-Hour Rule claims that the key to achieving world class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours.
“World class expertise”- 10 000 hours. That means practicing something correctly for 2.5 hours per day, 5 days a week, for 15 years.
I teach 12-14 year olds. I doubt more than a handful of them are even close to reading quality text for over 1000 hours (2 hours per week for 10 years). But video games? That number is a lot higher.
The attraction of video games is that they are not a passive experience like TV or film, where the user takes in the content. Video games are an active experience where there is interaction, choice, consequences, achievement, and socialization. Our kids are gamers. It’s pretty safe to say that there is more gaming than book-reading happening, and that means that video games are the primary way in which our students engage with narratives.
Gameplay in games is fun. There are places to explore, people to talk to, and people to act upon, but a good narrative holds a lot of weight in the gaming world. Narrative weaves the details of the worlds, paints content, populates places with characters, and ultimately transports the player into that world. What if we took the same approach to teaching.
Oftentimes I don’t see a difference between how gamers engage in games, and how teachers engage students in learning. Can the player types be catered to in the classroom as they are in games?
On the game side, designers are always incorporating new data and technologies; innovating game design; creating faster consoles, better graphics engines, more responsive gameplay, a more immersive online experience. They are doing all they can to engage their gamers. Teachers have been designing unique projects and units, innovating with new technologies and tools, making classrooms places of inspiration and creation.
The big difference here is how Gaming is a large, international, multi-billion dollar industry. Companies want to make money and they are doing so in spades. They adapt to their market and provide the players what they want. That is the way the corporate system works in this world.
But is the education system listening to what its users want?
The education system has particularly catered to only a portion of the four gaming personalities; Achievers. “Here’s what you need to learn (goal), this is how to show (assignment), here’s your grade (reward).”
*Stop. Do I go on the anti-grade rant now? Wait. Save for a future post. Okay.*
* UPDATE* I did.
It’s not that we shouldn’t have things in our system for Achievers, but we teachers need to help balance the student-ecosystem from the inside.
Let’s get some fun back in our classroom and learning. Let’s Gamify a bit.
‘Til next time.