Friday, 25 January 2008

No Wii?! I'd die

I played my first game on the Nintendo Wii last night. Okay, I got thrashed by an eight-year-old at tennis, and I've woken up this morning with an ache in my shoulder, but the way in which I holed-out on the ninth to snatch victory in a game of golf was magisterial. That said Jude (a very mature eight-year-old) was also playing Ben 10 on his PS2, whilst attempting to give me the runaround. Now whether this was because he was bored of my company, simply multitasking, or just living his life is another story. I also happened to be texting a few mates and taking photos of the avatar created for me on the Wii by Jude's Mom.

His mum's take on why he focused on both the kinesthetic and cognitive outcomes from both games was put in terms of "socially interactive" and "emotionally engaging". Watching Jude in action, the games were not just about achievement, but competition, and in gathering new resources. In Ben 10 these included new moves for the game and also movie clips, which could be watched outside the game and saved. This developed into a more holistic experience, perhaps focused around the brand of the game, but also in an environment where these resources can be shared with friends. Jude's engagement is central to his lifestyle, which is underpinned by words like "cool" and "wicked".

So when I asked him about what he would do if he didn't live an interconnected life, one in which the Web had never existed and he didn't have access to a PS2 or Wii, it is said that "I'd die". When I pushed the issue, he said that he "would play marbles", or "I'd invent them".

What I thought was interesting, was the dynamic of the space in which we were engaging, and how engaged we all were. The mix between technology and physical space is taken for granted.That becomes more so when WiFi and mobiles become dominant factors. This enabled us to sit quite happily in the front room, using mobile phones and two types of game console, one of which was hooked up to a TV, whilst we discussed how best to return serve, access a particular game level, whether Merlot was a better grape than Shiraz (Jude had some good things to say on this point), and the impact of continual performance testing on schoolkids.
Rather than distancing us, in this context, it was really interesting to see how technologies enhanced social bonds.

1 comment:

Suki said...

There's something about this dynamic virtual space so young makes me uneasy - I have never played these games so do not know the depths that they can take. The reinforcements that they may give in achievement and the lateral thinking that they may instigate can have their benefits but I would hope that these achievements are not perceived as 'easily' achievable as they may not be so in the 'real world'. Learning and experiencing in the real world may not provide as much reinforcements as we would like so that we can be steered and driven to move on a level. So maybe there is something we can learn from it! I can see how these games are appealing, you are more or less in control of your environment and it’s competitive. Socially, they sound great for ‘playing’ with others and sharing the experience. For me the ‘environment’ and ‘reinforcement’ is key here, when talking about learning and socialising, be it virtual or real! Having an engaging reinforcing environment in both these contexts can build on skills to take it to the next level, and the next and the next….