Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thoughts on *GASP* Cheating

Is it really cheating to use cheat codes? I don't think it always is, but I guess it depends on how you use them. Last night I played around with the cheat codes for Age of Empires. Get some extra wood, some free coins, some food; it's nice to not have to spend the first hour or two of game play building up supplies. Then I tried the "big red truck" cheat code. I kid you not. Press enter and type "tuck tuck tuck" into the chat bar. A big red monster truck appears amidst the precolonial village. It can destroy any building or character it comes in contact with. I finished my game in two hours. Yup. It usually takes me more like five hours to win. This truck revelation may have just killed the game for me. It's not so interesting to play it without the truck when I know that it exists, yet it's also not really fun to play with the truck since it takes out any strategy. Hmph.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What makes it fun?

Yesterday, Joanne was talking about flow on her blog. More specifically, she was talking about what makes the game fun and the fact that the learning it might provide isn't really the point at all. I wholeheartedly agree! If you decided to play Age of Empires as a way to learn about colonialization, I think you'd be wasting your time. It doesn't have a huge amount of information in that regard and it's certainly not the most time-effective way to learn that limited amount of information. However, it does have one thing going for it that other means of learning about the topic area don't: it's fun. Pure and simple, players will enjoy the experience. After spending countless hours playing the game, I can't say that I've learned a whole lot or that I've somehow learned it better than I would have any other way, but I have absolutely enjoyed myself while playing. Plus, can you think of another learning experience about American history that would lead to a video as cool as this one that Andy found?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Different Kind of Game

This week I've been participating in round 2 of Sock Madness. It's essentially a speed knitting contest. Contestants are e-mailed a sock pattern and have to knit the pair before they are eliminated. A smaller number of knitters passes on each round. This round there were 35ish knitters in my group and 20 moved on to round 3. Once the 20 spots are filled, the round is up and anyone not finished is eliminated.

It's not at all a tech-related game, but technology has certainly changed the play of the game. Through a variety of social networking sites, contestants can commiserate frustrations and ask for pattern help. I've also seen people cheering each other on and praising finishers. I finished my pair at two a.m. Friday night (or early Saturday morning, I guess). It's total madness and we all will freely admit this. While I wasn't planning on talking about any of my course readings in reference to the game, it occurs to me that it very clearly fits the definition of game from Kupperman's (2007) Grasshopper article: "Games have rules. Rules are unnecessary obstacles that make the game possible." The concept of knitting a pair of socks, which generally takes an average of two weeks or so, as fast as you can is a bit ludicrous. During the contest it is not unheard of to knit a pair within two days. Of course, there is the matter of aching hands to deal with afterwards. Speaking of which, must go back to resting my wrists . . .