Schooly Games

I’m here, at NECC, for only two and-a-half more hours, so I need to squeeze in as much as I can.  So what am I doing?  I’m at the blogger’s cafe.  The interesting thing about such a big conference that is so multidimensional, is that you can hardly turn around without learning something.  I step in the Second Life Lounge, and not only am I re-introduced to some of my best virtual friends (without the purple hair), but I turn around and there’s Steve Dembo, presenting somewhere in this complex, but displayed on a large LCD.

Walking throught one of the large open halls, I run across the Games & Simulations Lounge where I talk for a minute with Jeremy Koester and then get the five minute pitch on a couple of the games featured there. 

As context to my reaction, I go back to the Leadership Symposium yesterday, and some of the general theme of conversations here at NECC — that it is a time to blur the walls of schooling, to recognize and respect the opportunities that we and our students have to learn outside of our classroom walls.  The Internet and the new flow of information that has resulted from Web 2.0 applications offers an anytime/anywhere learning environment — where learn becomes a lifestyle, not just something you do in school.

Yet, both of the games I learned about were constrained by the rules of the grant providing organizations, a desire to produce a game experience that could be safely administered in traditional classrooms.  Both of the representatives I talked with admitted that the games would have been something different, and probably better, had it not been for the insistence for  classroom-ready products.  They wanted the games to be schooly — and in my opinion, they stopped being games, at least from the perspective of the gamers that many of our children are.

We need to object to this and to be more vocal in our proclamations for learning lifestyles that are independent of time and space.

I’m finishing this up at the San Francisco Airport, one more leg to New Zealand.  It’s currently 8:20 PM on Monday, and I’ll land around 5:00 AM on Wednesday — somewhat west of the DateLine.  Blows my mind.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.