Second Life: Dublin

This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland and loved it! So, I was excited to virtually travel back to one of my favorite Irish cities in Second Life. Here is a taste of what I experienced:

When I first arrived, I appeared to be in a small patio, that was empty. As Celtic music filled the background, I explored. The brick buildings, small alleyways, and brick paths definitely reminded me of Dublin! The city was set along the coast of the river, and virtually walking around definitely reminded me of my trip this summer.

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When I continued exploring, I came across the Blarney Stone, a pub serving Guiness, dancing, and an all around good time. I chatted with a couple of people in the bar and they were curious about my uniform. I decided to practice my role-playing skills and pretended I was from the future and had been sent to learn about this culture. I learned they like to dance! I didn’t know how to dance, so I left.

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When I left the Blarney Stone, I found my way to a bowling alley. This was fun because there were clear instructions on how to play and join the game. I was easily able to follow them and participate in a bowling game. I was the only person in the bowling alley, but it was still fun!

Then, I went into an art gallery and explored. I ended up teleporting to a performance and somehow joining the group… it took me a little bit to learn how to un-join, but it was a fun area to explore. Again, there were instructions on how to interact with this virtual world. Dublin seems like a great place for novice second lifers because so many of the interactions come with instructions!

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After that, I walked through the outskirts of Dublin where there were lots of houses and playgrounds. Overall, Dublin is a cheery place to visit. There is great music, friendly people, lots of dancing, and helpful tutorials to teach you how to interact with this Second Life environment. As someone who still feels a little overwhelmed by Second Life, this was a great place to visit and explore!

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Milk Run

Tonight, MoodleHunterD & I went on a Milk Run! It was interesting to learn the WWII roots of the term: a milk run was an easy mission with little to no risk for soldiers. I, as a novice at best gamer and SecondLifer, found this encouraging and comforting. Reflecting on the mission, this was one of the most fun quests  I have done! MoodleHunterD had a blast exploring http://slurl.com/secondlife/Deva%20Loka/22/4/54 in Second Life collecting the following objects:

  • Basic clothing
  • Period costumes or clothing including Western, Roman, space, fantacy, Victorian, etc.
  • Structures and buildings
  • Educational or instructional tools
  • Vehicles
  • Scripts

At first, it was a little overwhelming for me to try and figure out how to put things on and find the things that were free, but after a bit, I really started to enjoy the adventure! Here is a glimpse into our journey:

We started simple with a basic t-shirt & jeans (the jeans were actually part of a cowgirl outfit that didn’t amount to much…)screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-7-44-13-pm

Then, we explored period clothing (or fantasy?) by transforming into goth-chic:screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-7-47-36-pm

At first, it was challenging to navigate through the free box- it was like we went to Goodwill and put on an entire rack of clothing at one time. Here is the process of figuring out what parts we would keep on and what we needed to take off:screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-7-53-40-pm

We found some different vehicles to stand next to:screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-7-46-17-pm

To wear (this was part of our learning process):

And eventually to drive:

We tried out a few scripts- one made me only walk sideways and one made us sit down criss cross applesauce: screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-8-26-37-pm

One of the trickier mission aspects was the instructional item as we were unsure what qualified… We eventually stumbled upon a build-your-own airplane kit! screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-8-29-32-pm

And to celebrate a job well done, we got a hot tub to relax in! (or next to…)screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-8-17-15-pm

Overall, quest: success!

 

Sploder Game Types

Within this blog page, I will explore the different types of Sploder Games and learn more about how to create my own!

3-D Mission Game Creator

This type of game begins with a mission brief that sets the scene. I liked the storyline aspect, but it did not add too much to the game. However, it seems like the storyline aspects could be fun to create for an educational game because I could create a storyline to complement our content areas. I did not like the top down view as much, either.

Basically, I was in a maze and had to to shoot bad guys and travel through a course to rescue the scientist! The controls were pretty easy to navigate,  so overall the game made sense and was easy to play. I also liked the different things that you could add to this type of game, like puzzles and obstacles. These puzzles seem to offer an exciting problem solving element, which could provide opportunities for collaboration and classroom applications as well! I wish they had an option to choose your character.

Physics Game Player

I liked this puzzle game! It seems like a fun way to reinforce ideas and teaching about physics concepts in the classroom. Basically, you progressed through increasingly difficult levels by completing a physics based obstacle. I liked that the levels got increasingly more challenging because that provides nice and helpful scaffolding for novice players.

I think that the initial instructions could have been a little bit more clear because it took a few tries for me to figure out what I was supposed to do. I also felt a little crunched by the time limit- it seemed a little short for me, so my students might need a longer time limit so they don’t experience the frustration that I did.

While I enjoyed this game, I don’t think that this is the game type for me to create- I feel a little intimidated by trying to link gaming, puzzles, and physics altogether!

Platformer

This game reminded me of a simpler and less sophisticated version of Mario Bros. I was a little monster character and traveled along a course, collecting items, beating bad guys. I like that you could add a theme and could add bad guys and level ups to match. The 2-D game seemed very logical to me because as I scrolled through the course, the character moved and progressed through the game. The graphics were simple, but effective.

However, I did think that controls were a little clunky. The jumping function arrow keys were not as precise as the small course demanded, so it would have been helpful to have a little more space between obstacles. It took me a little bit to figure out where I would land when I jumped.

I liked this type of game and it felt familiar to other games I have played before, so I might be interested in creating this type. It seems like this type of game would provide a lot of creator choice, which is exciting.. and a bit intimidating.

Shooter

Wow, there was a lot going on in this game! When I first read about Shooters, I went in expecting Space Invaders. As soon as I pressed start, my purple shooter was bombarded by 5-6 shooting space ships. I thought at first I was just supposed to avoid them, but then realized the space bar let me shoot at them. I don’t think I was a very efficient or effective player of this game because I just spun around and slammed on the space bar repeatedly. It seemed difficult to have a strategy or a defensive plan with this game type. It was very simple, as even with my lack of strategy and any real skill, I still was able to win the game.

The robot game was more challenging and allowed for more strategy. I liked that with the robot game, I did not feel as bombarded initially and could develop a little more strategy, but I again did not like the top down view style. It was interesting to have more weapons to choose from and be able to try out different ones for different scenarios.

It might be fun to create this type of game, but I would want to make a side-scrolling game that was not as overwhelming initially. I would also want to make sure that there were options for a defensive as well as offensive strategy.

Retro Arcade Games

This is definitely the type of game I am most interested in creating! It was so fun and reminded me of the classic Mario that I played growing up. I liked the scrolling style, cute graphics, and that you could collect coins and bounce off the bad guys head. This simple, fun game fits my style and seems most like what I want to create. I thought the helpful notes were nice because they provided helpful instructions on how to play as I went along. If you paused the game, it also provided helpful hints to get you back on track. I liked that you could choose your own character, too. This game seemed similar to the Platformer game, but I enjoyed this one much more- the game design certainly added to my enjoyment.

What makes a good game?

  1. Visuals- I think that appealing visuals and graphics are important to a good game. For example, I loved the graphics and colors of the retro game much more than those of the platform game and thus, enjoyed the game much more!
  2. Challenge- if the game is too easy, it is boring. Yet, if the game is too challenging, it is unaccessible. The game needs to be appropriately challenging, but there should be different levels to accommodate for different players’ ability. (Puentedure mentioned that if a game is too challenging, players often become uninterested in uncovering the patterns that make the game make sense because they don’t care enough. The challenge becomes irritating ‘noise.’)
  3. Levels increase in difficulty- Piggybacking on the challenge element, levels should increase in difficulty the longer you play. This type of scaffolding allows players to gain confidence and have an increased challenge the longer they play.
  4. Clear directions & purpose- as a novice gamer, I really appreciated clear instructions on how to play. I think a clear mission or aim of the game is also really important. Just as important as knowing how to play, is knowing the point of playing.
  5. Simple, effective controls- sometimes the controls of these games were clunky and difficult to manage, which increased my frustration and decreased my enjoyment of the game.
  6. Variety- doing the same thing over and over again gets boring. Having a variety of options for success and failure keeps the game player on their toes.
  7. Storyline/Immersion into the virtual world- I think that the storyline of the game allows for increased engagement if the character can get into the virtual world of the game. A good game draws the player in and makes them care about the world they are playing through.

When I listened to Puentedure’s podcast, I was impressed that many that I mentioned, he also mentioned. One thing that stood out to me when considering challenge was that Puentedure mentioned that people do not like to play games where there is no chance of failure. I think this is an interesting idea to consider because failure in education is a touchy subject because people encourage teachers to help their students experience success. However, if what makes a good game is the existence of failure, then it seems games could be an effective way to teach kids about how to fail and what to do with failure.

After this work, I created my own Sploder game! Try it out:

References

Puentedure, R (2009, July 7). What makes a good game? [Podcast] Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com

The History of Video Game Graphics

I grew up not playing too many video games. I was much more interested in playing with dolls or playing basketball outside. When I was about seven, we did get a SEGA Dreamcast and I did enjoy playing a few games at local arcades and with friends. As I watched the video A Brief History of Video Game Graphics, I was able to recognize and reflect on a few different games I played as a child:

Pong: I played this game with my dad as a kid. When we first got our SEGA, he was so excited to show me this simple air-hockey like game that he had played as a kid. He was so impressed with the transformation of video games from what they used to be to today.

PacMan: I do remember playing this game at different arcades growing up, and then into my college years as a fun throw-back to early gaming experiences. There was a pizza place in my hometown where you could play PacMan (it was set into the table) for free while you ate.

Super Mario Bros: I remember playing this game with my brother and cousins at my aunt’s house- that little song brought back a lot of memories of us fighting over turns and competing for higher scores.

Mortal Kombat: This game was popular with my college roommates- I was never too strategic, but really enjoyed (and sometimes randomly successful) with my aggressive and quick button smashing!

Ridge Racer: Almost every soccer party I ever had was at Round Table Pizza, where they had a small, but awesome arcade. My favorite then, and now, was always the racing games. I loved pretending to drive before I could drive a real car. Good thing I’m better at real life driving than video game driving…

Mario-Kart: This game was one of my best friend’s favorites, and she would have Mario-Kart parties frequently. I was terrible, but have really fond memories of coming together with my friends to play and race each other.

Call of Duty: I played this to attempt to impress my high school boyfriends. Looking back, my lack of skill does not seem like it would be impressive…

Wii Sports: I loved Wii Sports! This game was interactive and so much more interesting to me than traditional video games.

Rock Band: I also liked Rock Band- the interactive piece again appealed to my active needs. One of my most fun NYE parties from middle school was an all night Rock Band tournament!

Grand Theft Auto: This was the absolute calling card of my college roommates. They would play for hours, passing the controller around and getting cheats from the internet, like one time they were able to get a helicopter that could be called on command.
Wow, that was a longer list than I was expecting going into this quest. It was really interesting to explore the progression of video games throughout the years and remember the different stages through the games that were important.

Gamification: Star Trek Science

Mr. Gonzales has truly gamified his classroom. In a similar model to EdTech 532, he has transformed his sixth grade science classroom into a Star Trek mission. The students enter the class as typical sixth graders and as they complete missions, they level up and take on new roles and responsibilities as they gain new knowledge. I was so impressed with the depth of his gamification and I love the use of QR codes to give students their missions. The students seemed really excited to try out this unusual approach to a science class.

I found it really helpful from an elementary educator’s perspective to watch how GameLab can be utilized with younger aged students. I think there is so much potential for interaction and engagement through this type of multi-player educational video game experience. This video made me excited to try gamifying my own classroom more- I don’t think I am quite ready for this level of gamification, but maybe I could try creating a GameLab quest for one unit for my students to work through.

If you haven’t yet, check out this video of Mr. Gonzales introducing his class to their untraditional science class- it is definitely worth a watch!