Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
The day my infantry soldiers and I landed on the beaches of Normandy is a day I shall never forget. My hands were shaking and my ears ringing with the sounds of angered pain. I nearly drowned as I climbed over the side of our death trap beach lander and plummeted into the murky crimson waters of taken land. The weight of my gun and field pack held me solid on the shifting floor beneath me and I fought with every shifting bend of my frame to release the hold the weight had on me. I do remember it was quiet under the surface, much quieter than the howling of war that raged above. With the last gasp of air in my lungs I pulled myself onto the beach and found whatever I could to hastily construct protection from those who brandished ill will.
The story above is an excerpt of my time as a OS officer during my tour while playing Medal of Honor Rising Sun. It is a retelling of my experience playing the game. I know it is just a game however, much like reading a good book its message had an impact on my actual life experience. I would never have been able to have had the experience of the beach landing just watching it via propaganda videos. While playing the game the controller shook and vibrated while the digital surround sound added to the auditory experience captivating my senses. I even felt connected to my fellow virtual soldiers and made sure to keep them safe.
As my years of life have progressed I no longer seem to have time to save the world but I will never forget the time I spent trying. Gaming has value for me in every sense of the meaning and authenticity to actual events both positive and negative is required for true impact within the experience. There are definite concerns as to age appropriateness of games but this can be alleviated by matching games to curriculum standards. If a high school student can watch Schindler List they should also have the opportunity to play a WWII first person game.
Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
Yesterday Sylvia talked about how boys were more aggressive when computer time is offered. I had some classroom coverage today and it allowed me to post this while in class observing students. I had worked with a couple of really fast working students and we decided to go explore some games found on the links shared last night in class. Once the computers were open for use immediately a group of five boys gathered around two computers and closed off the rest of the class. The girls in the room maintained their positions at the classroom tables and showed no outward interest in using one of the computers. As class time merged into lunch an even larger group of boys gathered to discuss strategies and achievements during game play. Although it was very cool to listen to the interactions amongst the group of boys it was unfortunate that the group of girls were completely shut off from being able to use either of the computers. Some of the back channel discussion last night spoke directly to this phenomenon of excluding girls from computer use in the classroom as boys take over the computers. Very politely the girls in the room reverted to reading their books and having quite conversations amongst each other and never really drew attention to this inequity of computer use. Maybe these middle school girls are the polite wall flowers we assume they are. I hope not! Computers and games are not just for boys, there is a definite dynamic that needs to change to make sure girls feel equally entitled to use technology.
I took a quick break from this post and went to talked with the group of girls, I wrote about above, to see if they agreed with this inequality. For the most part they agreed. However, one girl did proclaim “…if I wanted to use one of those computers I would go make one of the boys get off and take over.” Unfortunately her response was the exception to the rule rather than the standard. I also asked the girls what style of games were of interest to them. For the most part girls listed problem solving and strategy games that draw highest interest. The problem solving aspect was very different than the “shoot’ em up” explosions based games the boys get into. As a real time experiment I had all the students return to their seats and offered the computer only to the girls in the room. Several girls took the opportunity and proceeded to explore the site for games that were of interest to them. Equal time must be a part of our plan for computer use in the classroom as I saw today when we leave it to open aggression and the claiming of a computer unfortunately the boys take over.