David Seelow, PhD©
In remembrance of Veteran’s Day, I have decided to post a third and final entry on the games adult students play and love. As this will be the final time, I am likely to teach the fully online game course “Secrets” I wanted these students voices to be heard. Nearly 80% of the students in this course are and have been either active in the service or veterans of the service. In the spring, I will ask traditional younger students the same simply question, “What games do the currently play and why?” It will be interesting to see the different perspectives on the value of games. These adult students grew up with video games from the beginning of the early Space Invaders and such to today’s immersive games. In their digital autobiographies the students speak about their game play history, but the below comments are based entirely on the games they currently play. I think the comments offer many ideas for educators and designers on what makes a game valuable to players.
One expected pleasure games provide is escape, but escape has deeper meaning than just drifting off into another world. In talking about The Sims (Entertainment Arts), a student talks about, how she, “would play this game because it was fun to create a world and characters of my choosing.” In other words, the game stimulated not just escape from the world, but world building as an imaginative activity akin to writing a novel or play. This world building contributed “contributed to my sense of well-being.” Fantasy, fun and satire offers another type of escape as a student describes the Stick of Truth (South Park Studios). “It is a role-play based fantasy war involving humans, wizards, and elves, all who want to possess the Stick of Truth. It is further complicated by aliens, Nazi zombies, and gnomes.” Most important to this seasoned veteran, but novice game player, the game “makes me laugh.”
Several students talked about how games created community, kept them connected with friends and family when living apart or on deployment. “I enjoy playing this game [Rainbow Six Siege (Ubisoft)] because it is thrilling, and I like playing video games with my brothers. We all live far apart, so playing games on the Xbox is what keeps us connected.” This student also stressed how the game [a competitive played game today], “requires a great amount of teamwork. If you do not, the opposing team will wipe yours out quickly.” Similarly, in Clash of Clans (Supercell) “You also become a clan with other players and work together to defeat other clans. I like this game because I can create my base however I want. I can work with other to conduct attacks. Also, I have friends from all over the world in my clan. And I’m not talking friends that I met online but my actual friends from playing the game.” The most surprising game for me to build a social network turned out to be a student’s love of Friday the 13th (III Fonic). “I play this game because of the social aspect of it. If you are near another counselor you can talk to them but if they are across the map you must get lucky and find a radio to be able to talk to them. This game also has a true fear factor to it. You will be alone in the woods and then suddenly Jason will appear, and you must survive.” What an intriguing way to learn survival skills, play a horror video game, a battle Jason Vorhees, a one-man army of the night!
Another student, a lifelong gamer from the old Atari 2600 days talked about the “the visceral nature of the storytelling grab me [which] forces me back for another playthrough,” in called Fallout: New Vegas (Obsidian Entertainment).
Finally, the old card game poker of appealed to a student, “because you’re not so much playing your hand, as you are playing your opponent’s hand. Every little move you make at a poker table can have a different meaning.” This game sometimes associated with the ‘luck of the draw’ actually “forces you to be on the top of your game mentally every single hand.”
Strategy, concentration, decision making, team work, world building and laughter, these are reasons nontraditional students play games.