Saturday, September 29, 2012

Yeah I Rolled One of Those

Well, why not. I rolled a Pandaran, but the females looked so stupid (the way female Tauren look stupid), that I had to go with a male. Of course I spec'd him as a monk. What's the point of rolling a new race if you don't also roll the new class especially suited to the new race. And, given my predilection for healers, of course I'm going with the heal spec. I have to say, so far, at low levels, it's a boring heal. But maybe that will change.

The new start zone is very well done. Nice art and a good story line, but alas, within an hour or two you're back into the same old same old. Yeah, young monk, go travel to Orgrimmar. =sigh=

But then, as soon as I hit lvl 15, I jumped into dungeons as a healer and was surprised to see that at least some of the dungeons had been reworked. New bosses, new story arcs. Nice. Except that at low levels everyone is powering through the  content to get the xp or the boss drop or the dungeon quest reward. As a healer I found myself in the usual position of being unable to even loot because the tank ran ahead and I had to follow. =grrr= At least I'm not having to struggle with mana. In fact, neither this toon nor my healing shaman have any issues with mana. =weird=

Yeah, I wanted to just name him Weiwei, but it was taken. Drat. LIke my Fu Manchu 'stache? Interestingly, as my daughter pointed out, lots of Ameri-centric players are using Japanese names, often from animé, on their Chinese Panda character. C'mon people, we're not that stupid are we? Do all "those Asians" just seem the same to you? Really? Gah. I wonder how this, and by that I mean the Chinese flavored Mists of Panderia expansion, is playing in China. Are they happy to represent or pissed at the stereotyping? Ah well. I think I'll jump into GW2 this weekend. It's been a while and I'm almost getting to lvl 30 where I can run dungeons.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Posting From SassyB

The year was 2007, it was a beautiful summer evening all the guests were full from repartee and repast. As the waiter cleared the table, there was talk of continuing the conversation with after dinner drinks, but everyone excused themselves. Why do you ask? To go to their respective hotel rooms and play WOW--together, but alone. I sat in stunned silence. Why wouldn’t these people want to continue the conversation in person? At the time I laughed it off as mere silliness. Little did I know that lurking beneath my Ann Taylor outfit and carefully, manicured nails was a trooper waiting to be born.

That summer I had driven down to Madison for the Games, Learning and Society conference to meet with Ornerybob, his hallowed professor and several of his cadre mates. This was my formal introduction into the study of virtual worlds. I just didn’t get it. Really, write a dissertation on gaming? Ornerybob and I continued the conversation and he, in vain, tried to explain the importance of gaming in education. This discussion continued for the next five years.

Over those five years I learned much from Ornerybob in regard to education and technology and for the most part we agreed with one exception—gaming as a learning tool. I was supportive while he wrote his dissertation, but didn’t see gaming as a true method of learning. He introduced me to Jane McGongigal through TED. Her enthusiasm was infectious and she made her point when said “what if we can harness all this enthusiasm?” The cracks in my armor were beginning to show.

I then started a doctoral program in Learning Technology. The very one I had been learning about through Ornerybob. In one of the classes we needed to create an alter identity in an online environment. I had enough to do as a single, working mom and full-time doctoral student and now I had to go play in the virtual world? Of course, I knew Ornerybob would jump at the chance to introduce me to the virtual world he loved. I was finally and firmly pushed into Star Wars: The Old Republic or SWTOR as he always calls it. 

There was much to be decided before I started. What character would I be? Republic or Empire? Would I play the trial game or buy the $15 dollar version? I, of course, chose the free version as this was only temporary. Next we looked at the characters. I hemmed and hawed because there wasn’t anything girly to choose from. I grudgingly chose a Trooper and we started to play. Below is my daily blog:

Day One

I didn't know what to expect for my first time playing a virtual reality game. Picking out my character was fun, but I wish I would have been given more options (yes, I am a girl). I have a gun, but have no idea how to use it, or is just for decoration?

Moving around is extremely difficult, Ornerybob told me I was walking like I was handicapped. There aren't any smooth turns since I am using curser keys—very awkward.

Nobody told me I had to be able to have a sense of direction! I have a GPS for this reason. I find myself spinning in circles looking for things—if this were real world I would have vomited from dizziness.

I am now at level 2. Am I supposed to be excited? I blew up a box, yipee?

If I didn't have Ornerybob showing me around I would probably be about 10 feet from where I started. He was so excited to have me playing, he had a disco ball appear and we started dancing. Ridiculous, I would never dance under a disco ball.

I am going to keep playing to get the hang of the game and meet some of Ornerybob's friends and see what it is like to play with a group.

Educational comment—if I can learn to have a sense of direction I will have learned something.

Day Two
Today I had fun, but was told I am going to have to learn to fight! I thought I just followed the Ornerybob and let him do all the killing.

I have learned to move better and I understand the left click and two right clicks—couldn't figure that out on day one. I also learned that if I use the curser keys simultaneously with the “A” or “D” key I can move somewhat smoothly. It would have been nice if Ornerybob explained that to me!

I still don't have any sense of direction :)

Educational comment—I can see how this would work for eye hand coordination and mapping skills, but so far I am not seeing the educational value.
Day Three
Ok, I admit I have found the game creeping into my thoughts while driving, studying, and watching television. I was excited to play with Ornerybob and practice walkingJ He was going to teach me how to use my weapons, but we had technical difficulties.

I am at level 5!!! I love being able to run through people as if they weren’t even there—if only I could do that in real life!

Educational comment—bows head in shame…I was wrong. As I went from mission to mission I thought why can’t these missions contain mathematical codes to blow things up instead of left click, double right click? Couldn’t the narration tell a historical story? I saw it all unfolding before me, a virtual reality game that combined math, history and language skills. As long as we keep the learning in the game within each player’s zone of proximal development this could be a successful learning tool. What have these manufactures been waiting for? What do we have to do to get them started?

As I contemplate research for my doctorate I realize the last five years of indoctrination have been preparation for my future in academia. I have been brought to what, ironically, I call “the dark side.” I am now a gaming convert. People will now run from me like I did from OrneryBob as he proselytized the power of the learning in a gaming environment. As so eloquently stated by Yoda, “Always pass on what you have learned.”