Monday, July 2, 2012

World of Warcraft Tinkering

Playing WOW in the household, well, it didnt' take long for my son to notice. He became a 'guide on the side' of sorts, offering advice, observations, helping to cast spells and such.

I decided to turn the character over to to him and watch how he learned. The results?

He's elevated the character from level 14 to 22 in about 5 hours over two days. Thus far, there have been two issues which he needed help with...

Thus far I've helped him twice:

1. Blowing up the Orc towers in Blackrock Valley... required a reboot of the game for the explosives to properly appear in his pack.

2. He started experimenting on how to get a steed after level 20. He tried many experiments and visited about three places. I encouraged him to ask another resident in StormWind, someone with experience (a higher level) in a public place. I looked on while it happened, and... problem solved.

After having little to no experience online, save some hours of Minecraft, Eb's already a natural at this game.

His learning curve progressed VERY quickly as he learned to navigate the map, the inventory and training.

Eb just called me just about an hour ago to report a new finding. The armor and things the character wears takes damage as we fight. He figured this out, and how to repair the damage. He was quite proud of the discovery we hadn't discussed.

The game itself is intuitive... and so is his approach to the game.

Now... it's easy to see benefits here...

Problem solving
Resource management

The next phase in the game may take some reading. Neither one of us know much about skills in the game such as herbalism, mining or the like. Discussing this with him, I ask a lot of the questions and we bounce ideas around. What's the value? Why do it? When? Where? Training? Likely a better and shorter path to understanding via reading a bit or collaborating with another character online. Eb already informed me that was his plan though, "because asking others about mounts was so easy."

It's been pretty cool to watch him navigate this landscape and learn.

He just called me from the other room. He's found an 'Auction House,' where he can sell and buy things. He's already posting up things for sale after discovering it five minutes ago.

So add an understanding of commerce and markets to the mix.


It's also easy to see the potential for distraction. Hours... can disappear in this game. I can easily see where it'd be a lot more appealing to play it than grind through a conventional homework assignment.

There begins a great debate about games in education.

And i think it's a very healthy debate to engage students.

Using computers to be creative, to explore, to challenge your thinking is a mission we've always taken on in the Lab at Burr and Burton and in the graduate courses I mentor.

I'm lending serious thought again as I did a few years ago to creating a course using WOW and some other virtual worlds. Who knows where this might just lead.