Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Since when did I become a gamer?

80's gamer wearing Atari vest. I'd totally rock this look.


This year my interests in education have led me back to the future. My thinking is sprinkled with automaton, science fiction, gaming and the Anthropocene. I blame Danielle Myburgh and her brilliant EdchatNZ MOOC (massive open online course) on the Future of Education. I blame Rachel Bolstad for wooing me with Enders game at a Core Breakfast 3 years ago and then attacking my brain cells this year with Ready Player One.

I have game on the brain.

So much so, that I watched two gamer documentaries back to back yesterday. I know! Major geekdom. (For those that are interested they were Atari: Game Over and King of Kong).

Gaming is fascinating.  Atari itself created the possibilities of the computer through exposing young players through gaming. They were such simple looking games which required so much complex thinking. Like the hidden easter eggs, imagine how cool it would be if you found one of them. Playing games has so much complexity.

I introduced some of my Year 6 students to the first introductory chapter of Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. It opened up a conversation right at the very heart of educational future. What if the world does get so bad (tweens and teens love all that dystopia) that we are going to have to "plug in" to a virtual reality? Are we going to be able to influence reality while in the virtual world? I was so surprised at how much my students knew about gaming and it's history. Gaming just about playing games, it's a culture, it's a knowledge bank.



via GIPHY

Science fiction is freakily predictive. It's a medium in which big future issues can be explored. Perhaps it's a good way to talk to students about possibilities? These books have predicted the future or should that be reframed as the possibilities that can happen.

My class have also been playing and reviewing Curriculum for the Future. In this game they help convince a panel of adults what the new school curriculum should be. These curriculums are different from the ordinary and show some fantastic possibilities. "Why don't we do some of this stuff now" - said Miss 10 and I agreed.

So right now I am seeing gaming both digital and table top, as being ways in which we explore ideas, work with each other ("I love how interactive my learning is when I play a game with someone" - Mr 11), create new possibilities and have some fun. Play has uncertainty and we need to experience this to prepare us for the uncertainties we are yet to face.

Call me a gamer if you wish... Games are the key to our future.