Video Games and Learning-Assignment01

For our first assignment, we have been asked to play a video game for 30 minutes, then reflect on the gameplay for a quick 60 second video. 

Let me say right now that I am NOT keen on making and posting this video, butfor the sake of doing my part and really experiencing what this class has to offer, I’ve done it. 

Before recording the video, I wrote out a short transcript (that I based my video on, not read). I thought this was the best way to organize my thoughts into a packet that I could conceivably deliver in 60 seconds (it goes by fast). Here’s that summary / transcript:

I decided to play the Towers of Hanoi because they were referenced in the lecture as being an example of a well-defined problem. The version I played is called Tap Towers by Madcap studios for iOS, which allows players to choose between one and eight disks to move from the first position to the third position. The rules are that you may only move one piece at a time and each piece can only sit atop a larger piece. The end occurs when all the disks have been transferred to the third position (traditionally a peg).

The app adds an element of timing to the game and records best times for each number of disks. It also lets you know how many moves you took to complete the puzzle and compares this to a ‘par’ value, which is actually the number of moves needed for a perfect solution.

The game is fun and teaches the player how to master the movements and understand how they work logically. The constraints of the game (board size and number of pieces) demands that the player learn a very specific manner of movement in order to win. I found it interesting that, at first, I could intuit the movement better than I could actually reason it out. Even after playing a while, I am much more successful if I do not try to actively reason my way through, but rather ‘feel’ my way. Kind of like the ‘Force’.

My video can be found at: 

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Video Games and Learning

ImageIn addition to coding, I’ve also recently enrolled in the Coursera class, Video Games and Learning, taught by husband and wife team, Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I encourage you to go and check it out if you are interested in how games work in education – or even if you are just interested in games and want some insight into what makes them tick.

They do an excellent job pedagogically of setting up each ‘class’ as a series of short lecture snip-its and self-descriptive powerpoint presentations. As a teacher, I think I can learn a lot just from observing their methods.

A lot of the first-day material is very similar to Kevin Werbach’s gamification course also offered on Coursera, and I believe that in the end, this courses will go together very well in promoting a well thought out investigation into what we like about games and how we can use this knowledge to build games that guide us towards a specific goal (building better educational games, getting consumers to buy into a brand through gamification of a website or app or just having a game that doesn’t get boring too fast.)

Let me know if you are interested in joining me for any of these courses. And, remember, they’re free to take. No obligation at all, if you don’t like it, unenroll or just stop going.

day 1… in like a lamb

I reserved this space in August and haven’t done anything with it because I didn’t want to dilute any readership that I had with my main blog, downhousesoftware.wordpress.com. Nevertheless, I keep thinking about launching it anyway to keep a record of the work I’ve been doing (that sounds like I’ve gotten a lot done, but it’s mostly just finding my bearings).

Right now I have a semester and change of C++ under my belt, with a lot of outside projects to boot and I’ve recently started up a coding club for the little town of Paola, where I live. Although we only have a few members, I’m happy it’s up and going and I think we can all learn a lot from it given some time and the right projects.

Given all that, let’s call today day 1.

Please let me know if you’re interested in learning some coding too and would like to join me in tackling some simple problems – I think it would be a great experience learning to share files online and see more than just what’s above the surface.