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Couple weeks back, I was browsing the interwebs pretending to work, when I came across an interesting TED Talk about gaming. What made it even more interesting was that it was presented by third grader Cordell Steiner. The presentation was called 'Individualization, failure and fun', and I’m hundred percent certain that his parent’s helped him this.
Here’s the presentation, in its entirety. It’s just over 5 minutes long. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
First things first, he really gets on my nerves. There’s nothing more annoying than a precocious kid who talks like an adult. There’s something disturbing about it – something, unnatural. It gives me the heebie-jeebies, like watching a spider or millipede scurry across the floor.
You may be surprised by this reaction, since I have written many times that I’m a father myself, and you may be under the incorrect assumption that parents love children in general. You would be only half right. I love my daughter, more than anything in the world. Every other child is intolerable, and should be seen not heard.
I don’t want to be cruel, especially towards an argyle sweater clad third-grader, but his entire “talk” concerning games in the classroom is a non-issue. Before watching the video, I assumed that he was going to make a plea for mainstream and commercial games like Call of Duty, or GTA, stating how they improve problem solving or hand-eye coordination or some other stupid cliché shit.
To my surprise, he was speaking of educational games, which his third-grade teacher, Mr. Pie (TEE HEE!), assigns to his students. He goes into how the games assigned to him and his classmates are individualized, so that everyone can learn at their own pace and how fun it is. He waxes eloquently on how his teacher, the so called Mr. Pie (if that’s even his real name!) “rocks”, and how cutting edge he is. The little scamp even nonchalantly drops that he’s an “advanced learner.” Perhaps Mr. Pie should teach a lesson on humility next week.
Maybe I’m being tough on the kid. There’s a very good possibility that I’m harboring a wee bit of jealousy, towards a child no less, since no one has asked ME to do a TED talk. Sometimes, when I’m home alone with the dog, I like to give an impromptu TED talk to an audience of one. The wife may be out shopping, or visiting her mother, and I’ll just be inspired to give a kick ass presentation to the dog like a fucking BOSS! When I’m done, I feel fantastic. Maybe the dog will be awestruck by my rhetorical eloquence. Then she’ll lick her own ass and leave the room. MY DOG DOES NOT APPRECIATE MY IDEAS!
After watching the video, I decided to do a bit of research. When I say research, I’m referring to speaking with my wife, who just so happens to be a teacher with seven years of experience, and also currently teaches the third grade. COINCIDENCE!?!?
Actually it’s totally a coincidence. And aliens.
Do kids no longer have access to educational computer games in school? When I was in elementary school, back in the 80’s, when big hair was in and Michael Jackson was legitimately cool, we played tons of games on Apple IIe computers.
Matter of fact, the possibility to play a game on those old Apple machines was a bit of distraction. Many of the classrooms in my elementary school had only one and maybe two computers if you were lucky. The urgency to get your work done first for the chance to play a game on the computer led to some Lord of the Flies style shenanigans. It was not a pretty site when two kids finished their work at the same time and rushed the teacher to get permission to boot up the computer and play a game.
Little Simon got the message. He'll read a book silently in the corner.
Things have changed over the years however. Having visited my wife’s classroom multiple times, I’ve noticed that she has five desktops in the back of the room for her students. I asked if her students play educational games on those machines and she said that they do all the time. All of the computers are loaded with educational games and the browsers are bookmarked to hundreds of educational Flash sites.
So frankly speaking, what the hell is Cordell Steiner talking about? This is a non-issue. Maybe he’s speaking about schools in poorer areas, where they do not have the budgets to facilitate video games in the classroom, but he never states that in his talk. If that’s the case, then this is societal issue. I really can’t blame Cordell for that GLARING error though, since he’s just a kid, albeit a self proclaimed “advanced” one. I blame Mr. Pie.
...And his parents for dressing him in that HORRIBLE sweater
Okay, enough on TED talks! Let us take a trip down memory lane, where acid wash jeans were worn non ironically, MTV played actual music videos, and Playboy Magazine had more bush than a botanical garden in summertime.
That's a big bush
Spieler Dad’s Top 5 Apple IIe Educational Games from the 80’s
5. Math Blaster
All that I remember about this game was how cool the title was. In the 80’s anything with the word “blaster” in it was cool... probably. It reminded me of the NES game Blaster Master as well as the totally cool Master Blaster character from the movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Sadly, Math Blaster has nothing in common with each of these things.
WHO RUNS BARTER TOWN!
4. Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego
I had the hots for Carmen Sandiego when I was in grade school. Carmen Sandiego, for a fictitious female thief is not unattractive. The red hair, the fedora, the sultry come hither glare, she’s a pre-pubescent boy’s dream come true. Was she a Latin? Pretty sure she was a Latin. I’d say she’s probably from Argentina. That means she’s red blooded and fiery.
I vividly remember Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego being so much harder than Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. What can I say, even as a child, I was so much worldlier and sophisticated. The borders of the United States could not contain me.
3. Oregon Trail
This is the game that made shitting one’s self to death into a meme.
Every Brooklynite hipster has the t-shirt.
2. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego
Did I mention that I had a crush on Carmen Sandiego? Sometimes, while playing this game, I used to fantasize that I was part of some international crime fighting task force, akin to Interpol. Carmen was smart, but no match for my wits. I will pursue her to the ends of the earth and I will capture her. She will crumble under my interrogation and we will give in to the sexual tension. We will then run off together becoming the most formidable art heist syndicate known to the world. Our lair will be a stately villa on the shores of Como. Antiquities and famous objets d’art will not be safe. We’ll sip cordials from our terrazzo while planning our next big heist, before retiring to our boudoir for a night of passion.
1. Odell Lake
This game was my favorite. I’m not even sure that this game could be defined as being educational. You were a fish. You ate other fish. You tried not be eaten by bigger fish or caught by anglers. I’m not sure what this game was trying to teach. Maybe it was a commentary on society? Was it teaching the big fish little pond theory? Maybe it was trying to teach kids about the dog eats dog mentality of our society?
Or maybe this game was designed by a bunch of Minnesotan stoners and this is about being a fish. The world will never know.
It’s a mystery.
Who doesn’t love playing hooky every now and then? There’s nothing better than waking up one morning and saying fuck work/school today, I’m staying home and doing whatever I want because I’ve earned it. Sometimes you just need an unscheduled break to stay home, sleep in and to do whatever your heart desires.
I find that playing hooky requires a fair bit of planning and a bit of theatrics in my honest opinion. Sometimes, I like to plant the seed a day or two earlier at work, pre planning a hooky day, if you will, because I’m twisted. Maybe I’ll start complaining of a sore throat or have a coughing fit every now and then. That gets my coworkers thinking that I’m starting to get sick and they begin hoping that they won’t get sick, eventually leading to WHY IS HE HERE IF HIS SICK? HE’S GOING TO GET EVERYONE ELSE SICK! THAT ASSHOLE! This works surprisingly well during cold a flu season.
Planting the seed helps build a certain amount of sympathy from your coworkers so that when the day comes when you strike and call-in sick, they’ll all go, “yeah, he’s been battling something all week, I hope he feels better.” This ultimately makes me feel better about calling out, because people feeling sorry and having sympathy for you is great and I’m a horrible person
However, there are days when you simply want to call out and you have not pre-planned or planted any seeds of illness prior. This is when I go into my old bag of tricks that works like a charm every time. What you need to do is get up ridiculously early, which for me is at the ass crack of dawn, and e-mail your boss/coworker/professor at an ungodly early hour and say that you ate something nasty and you been puking and pissing out of your ass all night long and you’ve only been able to settle down to bed just now. Then go right ahead and sleep for a few more hours, you’ve earned it.
They will buy it, due to the profane hour you’ve sent the e-mail and how remarkably gross the situation is. No one questions diarrhea. You can even follow it up with a phone call later, just make sure that you’re giving an Oscar winning performance so that you sound sick. I like to call as soon as I reawaken. I think it helps make me sound out of it. I’M GIVING YOU GOLD PEOPLE, THIS NEVER FAILS!
Nothing feels better than getting everything straightened out with work/school and having the day for yourself. Really, you can do whatever you want, but I like to stay home or relatively local. I’m incredibly paranoid of getting busted, so I rarely venture far and regardless, hooky days are meant for relaxation and nothing is more relaxing than staying home all day, sitting around in the clothes you slept in and being a lazy shit.
Gaming and playing hooky go hand in hand really. There is not a better feeling in the world than just sitting at home and playing a game while everyone else is breaking their asses. I have fond memories of my childhood, staying home from school and gaming all day long. There is, however, a major difference between playing hooky and gaming back then and doing the same today. That difference is the integration of social media.
We live in an age where everything you do is broadcast to everyone. You can thank social media for that. Some people bring this upon themselves and willfully divulge every detail of their lives, giving a play by play on Facebook, checking in on FourSquare, or taking pictures of their food and posting it to Instagram, the later being the most loathsome, and there is a special place in hell devoted to the people who do that.
This brings me to my point. Social Media integration is so intertwined with everything that we do today, that sometimes we broadcast what we’re doing and do not even realize it or ignorantly wave our rights so that businesses post to our feeds in our behalf.
Case and point, a few months ago, I played a bit of hooky from work to spend some quality time with my PS4 and the Last of Us Remastered. This is a damn fine game and was well worth taking a sick day to devote my time to it.
I was just about to start playing the Left Behind DLC, when an interesting note popped up on screen, asking me if I wanted the game to post to my Facebook account on my behalf. Not thinking, I was just about to give it permission to do so when I realized what a horribly stupid idea this was, because then everyone will know that I’m playing video games instead of working. My entire story that I gave to my boss will be blown. He thinks I’m sleeping in the bathroom to be near the toilet when the inevitable explosive bodily function takes hold.
Even if you’re not Facebook friends with the boss, all it takes is one slip up from a friend at work and my cover is blown! I imagine the conversation would go something like this:
Co-worker: Where’s Spieler Dad?
Boss: Oh he’s home, he ate some bad sushi from a gas station and now he’s pissing diarrhea out of his ass.
Co-worker: Really? Because I can see that he’s tearing up The Last of Us on Facebook.
Boss: Really? Where did I put that number for Human Resources? Gas station sushi my ass!
It’s bad enough now that Xbox Live and PSN is fully integrated. If you are friends with someone, they can see when you’re online or through SmartGlass.
When the next –gen was first announced, everyone freaked out how the need to be always online was a horrible idea, because if the internet goes out, you’ll be shit out of luck. However, there is an even bigger reason why always being online is a horrible idea. What if someone wants to just stay home from work, call in sick, and play video games in their underwear while two fisting a bag of Doritos? I guess you didn’t think through entirely Mr. Smartass Marketing Product Manager.
And yes, I know that there is a way to disable how your presence is shown online, but Sony and Microsoft bury that shit in the settings. They need to make it easier to disable right from the top.
Case and point, last week, one of my co-workers was “working from home,” which means, he’s watching The Price is Right on TV while tapping the track pad his work laptop every so often so that your status says “available” on Instant Messenger. A few hours later, one of my other co-workers said out loud, in front of his manager, of all fucking people, I wonder how much work said employee is getting done while playing Battlefield 4.
That’s a real scumbag move right there, blowing up his spot like that. Not sure what came out about that, but the manager did not look pleased. Seriously, fuck that dude. That’s like asking your buddy if his rash has cleared up while he’s macking with a hot little number at the bar.
It doesn’t help that many games are now going in the direction of needing to be online in order to play them as the developers intended them to be played. Titanfall and Destiny are perfect examples. These games wouldn’t function properly or at all in the case of Titanfall if you simply disconnect from the network.
Like an old man, waving his cane at the kids running through his yard, I do yearn for the simplicity of years gone by from time to time. That is why I propose to the marketing execs at Sony and Microsoft to build a hooky function into their consoles.
It will just make everyone’s life much easier to lie. I don’t want to make an even bigger spectacle out of calling out sick to play video games. I’m already being a lazy shit by staying home to play video games when I should be, you know, actually working. All I want is to sit in my underwear for nine hours straight and game without having to jump through hoops. Is that too much to ask?
I realize that I haven’t posted in awhile, but I have a valid excuse. Who has two thumbs and is finalizing a Master’s Project in videogame violence?
Actually no. That’s Borat and it’s me that is writing a thesis on video game violence.
Want to know something about writing a Master’s thesis? It SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCKS! Writing a Master’s thesis takes fucking forever, even if it’s on a topic that you enjoy, like video games. The structure and style of a thesis sucks every ounce of enjoyment out of writing about something that should be interesting.
The first three chapters are nothing but foundation. You mention your topic, defend its merit, and then write fifty pages citing other people’s work that aligns with your study. Want to give your opinion on something? Fuck you pal! Who the hell are you? Do you have any letters after your name? No? Then bugger off peon. That’s what academia is about, take something that is enjoyable and interesting, and then tear it apart so that it loses its essence.
Here’s another thing, how come you don’t get a fancy title after completing a Master’s? When you complete a PhD (aka a doctorate) you’re called a Doctor. How come no one get’s called a Master after getting a Master’s Degree? That would be fricking sweet. Matter or fact, after getting a Master’s, you should be referred to as Maester, ala Game of Thrones. I mentioned this to my wife, on how after I complete my Master’s she should refer to me as Maester, but she said that she prefers to call me by the title she gave me after we got married, Mr. Stupid Face.
Just as long as they don’t cut of my balls, as that would suck.
I am glad to say however, that my first three chapters are done and I’m venturing into my actual research portion of my project. That’s where you, the Destructoid Community comes in. I’m looking for some fine folks to take a survey and see what gamers think of video game violence. What a novel thought, huh?
Taking surveys are great by the way. I take surveys for this company that gives out, among other things, GameStop gift cards after you accrue enough points. I then take those gift cards and buy PSN and Xbox Live gift cards, where I will then buy my games direct from Sony and Microsoft, because fuck GameStop.
Frankly speaking, I’d say that my survey is pretty quick and painless. I’ve taken some shitty surveys and did my best to ensure that my survey is not one of those.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE. Take my survey and you’ll have a chance to win your very own Sicilian Donkey Cart!
Okay, I lied about the donkey cart. I can’t actually give you anything for taking this survey, as that would not be very academic. All your responses are confidential and it will be specifically used for this academic study only. The University made may say that by the by.
I’d appreciate any of you that will be willing to take this survey. It’s not hard and relatively short, 10-15 minutes tops. You’ll probably find it enjoyable. All I ask is be honest and answer the questions to the best of your ability. Go ahead and send it along to anyone else that you think may find this topic interesting. The more responses, the better the study will be.
Thanks in advance to everyone who take part.