Prior to joining this class, my relationship with games was very rocky. As a child, I was constantly playing games (board games, video games, online escape rooms, etc). I would spend hours playing Mortal Kombat, the Sims, and all of the Avatar games. Games were a central part of my life. However, as soon as I entered high school and throughout college, my perception of games was drastically manipulated. After seeing several of my friends have gaming addictions to League of Legends, I started to perceive games as a time drainer that prevents us from being productive. My perception became incredibly negative so quickly, which is why I cut myself off from video games for so long. I came into this class with a desire to change this perception. I wanted to learn why games are so central to our lives and how they can enhance our lives.
In this class, the diverse set of activities encouraged me to view games at a finer level. Rather than just seeing the final product, I am able to see how the game mechanics influence the type of fun, or how onboarding can make or break a game. One of my favorite lessons in this game was about sound. This is usually something that I completely overlook in games, but I realized that the experience is completely different when playing with your gaming platform muted. Sure, you can play Super Smash Bros without volume without impacting playability, but the sound of each attack making contact provides feedback to the users and breaks a barrier between players and the game itself.
Another thing I learned in this class is how to question why something isn’t fun. I remember playing Animal Crossing for the first time last year. I HATED IT. It was one of the worst games I had ever played. But I simply couldn’t explain why. I loved the look of the creatures. I loved playing similar games like the Sims. But Animal Crossing never made me feel like I was having fun. If I encounter a boring game, I usually just stop playing it. But this class has taught me to analyze boring games, looking both at what they have to offer and what they fail to offer. For me, Animal Crossing didn’t provide enough challenge for an experienced gamer and the pacing felt too slow for me. There was no balance between skill and chance, as most of the game didn’t require any skill. The game is designed for those who are more interested in creating a world than completing challenges. Yet these are two completely valid types of fun. Fun goes far beyond puzzles, action, and mysteries.
The most important thing I will take away from this class is that games are all about learning. We may be learning how to climb a wall or how to defeat a certain enemy. But in the end, players are constantly learning. As someone who is interested in educational technology, I hope to apply the concepts that I’ve learned in this class to help students learn in an engaged manner. How can we leverage games in order to change one’s perception of learning? Of course, I am probably pretty far from getting a job in the EdTech industry. In the mean time, I’m gonna keep playing games and looking at how they enhance my own life, be it through the emotions or the pure act of submission. Either way, I have learned that games are not a time drain. They are our own little escape from reality, which we all need. And sometimes, they can help us understand our reality.