They couldn’t handle me! I was a bad-ass rebel with an attitude. Try getting me to sit still – I dare you!
I was a trouble maker alright. The kinda kid who plays his classical violin with his shirt untucked.
Somehow my combination of apathy, defiance, and independent thought resulted in a pattern of bad marks.
I hated school. It was my enemy. It crushed my hope.
By the time I got to high school I had learned how play along. I played school like a game. Minimum work for maximum mark.
Sometimes that maximum mark was even good! I didn’t really care – good marks kept the teachers off my back. Remember: I’m a rebel, k?
Looking back I sometimes resent the teachers who gave up on me. Thankfully, in the depths of those angsty apathetic years known as the “teens,” I came across an obscure text-based strategy game.
It was an ugly, glitchy, browser-based game and I fell in love with it. Suddenly I started learning independently. The game wasn’t designed to be educational – but knowing some basic math came in handy.
My desire to stay at the top of the rankings drove me to pour thousands of hours of my life into making strategies, politicking with other players, and learning new ways of playing. To this day I doubt I’ve caught up to the work I’ve put into that game.
I eventually became the game designer, and I used to talk about how the amount of work I put into the game could rival a masters thesis (I don’t say that anymore because some of my friends are masters students and they get twitchy).
So here’s my argument: Games are really really good at making you want to learn. They make you want to play, and then they make you learn in order to play well.
Games helped me become the big hot-shot success I am today.
The lessons I learned from games stuck better then anything a teacher ever told me. They’re fun, they’re involving. That’s the kind of thing that makes people want to learn. I know I’m not blowing anyone’s mind with this, but there’s more to it if you want to look, just check out Rob MacDouball’s arguments about historical games and play.
If you want to check out the game I’m talking about it’s called Redwall: Warlords. It’s actually a really sweet game nowadays.
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- Posted under Week Five - Playful Historical Thinking