I've always been terrible with talking about myself, I want to be witty and give you something fun to read, but I never know quite how to say the things I want to say. At least about myself. I would like for my blogs to speak for who I am, but if that is not enough I am a gamer who majored in History in college. I enjoy reading and the arts. I like to laugh and to make others laugh. I enjoy being around my friends. A good conversation is always welcome, and an open-minded and friendly debate is never bad. I dream in color, and am terrified of heights (and spiders). Steak should be its own food group. There you go, a little bit about me.
When sales people try to force something on me, whether it be a subscription, a credit card, some sort of extra, I tend to react very strongly in the opposite direction. And after watching Microsoft's E3 Kinectathon, my reaction is mixed.
Part of me wants to go out and buy the Kinect tomorrow so I can be a Jedi in Kinect Star Wars, but at the same time, Microsoft pushed Kinect so hard that I also want to say "No, Microsoft, I will not cave to your pressure and buy this do-dad of yours. I refuse to bend to your will." Seriously, it is great that Microsoft is so much behind Kinect but I do not own a Kinect, I am not a child to be excited about Sesame Street or Disneyland Adventures, and to be honest while the new Xbox Experience is interesting, that is not enough of an intensive to shell out $150.
If Fable Journey is only for the Kinect I may opt not to buy the accessory on principle.
So. E3 is about to happen, only a few days away, and everyone working in the game industry is racing to get things done. Many new games are being announced, screen shots, demos and news flow like milk and honey. This time of year is always exciting, and one thing that is not lacking is trailers. CG trailers. And I am unsure, as is always the case with CG trailers, whether to be thrilled and excited about the game the trailer is showing, or wary.
CG trailers are awesome, they are pretty and intriguing and fun to watch. Which is the point, I get that. They are supposed to make me want to play the game they are for, and when the team behind the trailer does a good job, I will get pumped for the game in question (no lie, I totally cheered when I saw the Mass Effect 3 trailer) but the problem with them is that they can turn out to be very pretty lies. Because they fail to show any sort of game play, I never know what to expect.
The new Tomb Raider trailer is a perfect example. I love Tomb Raider, have since it came out. Lara Croft was so cool to me. She was a powerful woman who felled Dinosaurs. I wanted to be her. But I have always had a slight issue with game play in the Tomb Raider games (not enough to keep me from playing them, but enough to yell at my TV), when you want her to leap from one ledge to the other and instead she flings herself right into death. It can be annoying. Granted a game play trailer will not answer my question of how Ms. Croft controls any better than a CG trailer would, but I would get to see how pretty the game is, see what sorts of crazy hijinks Lara will get into, you know actual game play.
Even knowing that CG trailers are made specifically to lure me in and make me clamor for the game the trailer is for, I still fall for it. The shiny effects and sleek graphics of a CG trailer almost always get me and I find myself thinking 'man I can not wait until this game comes out. I bet it will be awesome'. Now this only works on games I might be interested in anyway (No matter how cool the trailer for WWE looks I will never go out and buy it, sorry WWE) but I do not have a bottomless purse, and none of the bushes I have cut down or jars I have smashed have coins chilling in them so I have to be careful and selective with any game I buy, but the list is already too long and I do not need to add more.
With public schools around the country failing, and boards, principals, teachers and parents looking for ways to make sure the rug rats and terrors of the nation have something of value between their ears, I submit a proposal: make them play video games for school.
Originally I had intended to only look at Assassin's Creed and History as an example, but the more I thought about this, the more I realized that video games could be applied to almost any subject and still be valid. So to start we will take a look at Assassin's Creed, but as I come up with more examples, I will post those too.
So, Assassin's Creed. Why would it be a valuable learning tool? Well, do you remember public school? If you were at all like me you found it boring; I hated sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours, unable to expel all my crazy kid energy while some old person talked about facts I neither cared about nor found relevant to my life (seriously, how does long division help me in life?). Sure there was recess, but even that was more terrifying than fun. I got to burn up my energy, but it was mostly used running away from the bigger, meaner kids. In short, school sucked.
Fact: video games are fun. Kids love video games; and they also love fun.*
I can not even begin to explain how pumped I would have been about school if I had gotten to go play video games all day, or even part of the day. I would have begged my parents to let me go, even if I was sick, or if I was given the option of getting a day off, and I know I am not the only one who feels that way.
School can not be all fun and games though. I mean, that would give kids the wrong impression. There would have to be coursework as well, like papers, tests and the like. By tricking kids into thinking that they are only having fun, however, they would stand the chance to actually learn something of value.
And the kids would be learning.
Beneath all of the awesome, free-roaming, stabbing, stealthing, hiding action of Assassin's Creed is a lot of history. The time periods, major figures and areas are all historically accurate. To a degree. Of course, like live action (I am looking at you Rome), games can not be completely true to history, or they would probably be a lot less interesting (though there are some notable exceptions here, such as the Civilization series, if you happen to like that sort of game), but Ubisoft did a fantastic job of blending history with fiction, so the kiddies would be learning, and having fun.
As anyone who has studied history at all know,s it was violent. There was a lot of death, murder, starvation, sickness, rape, conquest etc. etc. While I appreciate that parents want to shelter their children from the worst of what people can be, the truth is that it is still out there, and it happens. A lot. So yeah, maybe we would not be giving seven year Timmy or Anna a PS3 controller expecting them to stab dudes to death, but older kids could handle it, it is history; it happened (though maybe not quite the way Ubisoft portrays it, but as I said before, violent death was, and still is a reality).
Besides, we all know that assassins were real, as were secret organizations that ruled the world. So not only would children be learning and having fun, they would also gain a healthy skepticism of governments and those in charge. Not to mention it would of course, teach children how to be assassins.
Anyone else have any ideas for video games that could be used for learning? Not in the conventional Brain Age sort of way either...but the sneaky 'hey you're learning and didn't even realize it, sucker!' kind of way.
*There are some exceptions: some video games are not fun. Those would be used as punishment. Beating up another kid in class? Fine, enjoy an hour of this.