By David Seelow, PhD©
In an earlier blog, I wrote about an online Alternate Reality Game (ARG) course that Lee Sheldon designed and I taught. I have written a lengthy article on the development and success of the course that will be published as part of a 3-part series on ARGs and online education for the International Journal on Innovations in Online Education later this year. The course is a game about cyberculture and; consequently, students are asked to reflect on games and their own evolving identity within cyberculture. In Episode 5, the midterm point, I simply ask students to discuss games they have played. These are students in their late twenties, thirties and forties, most married with families, and many on active military duty. They have a considerable history to their game playing and I thought allowing their voices to speak directly would produce some insight into what makes game playing such a great aspect of our culture. A final four student reflections will be published next week. The table top game Secret Hitler just added a Trump administration booster pack- talk about staying current).
Games mentioned: Plague, Inc. Chess, Secret Hitler (Board Game), World of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2 (Free-To-Play)
Identify any game you have played as an adult: video, console, mobile, card, athletic, role playing, board etc. Briefly describe the purpose and rules of the game to your peers. Explain why you play this game and what the game contributes to your sense of well-being then reflect on two of your peers’ games. Have you played them? Would you like to play them? Why or why not?
I like to play a mobile game called Plague Inc. You are playing as some disease (bacteria, virus, prion, fungus, etc.) and the purpose is to infect and ultimately kill everyone in the world before a cure is developed and distributed. I enjoy playing this game as some of the levels are challenging to completely kill everyone before there is a cure. Also, sometimes it’s fun to have control over how things are going especially when real life seems so unpredictable and uncontrollable. I get some perverse pleasure when I complete a level and I know I just killed everyone in the world.
I play this game as a kind of release of pent up frustrations and when I feel helpless in a situation. Being a military family can be challenging and there are many times where what happens in our lives are based on the needs of the military; even then things can change 500 times before anything happens. It can be extremely frustrating to live that way so I like to play games which let me be in complete control.
One of the games I have played as an adult is chess. Chess is a mainly a board game, but it can also be played through the internet. The purpose of the game is to get king into safety using other items in the game. The important rule of the game is castling. It involves allowing a player to move items in getting the king into safety and getting the rook out the corners and to the game. I play Chess because it improves by thinking and critical thinking skills. While playing chess, I can think about the next move in protecting the king. It means that my thinking and ability to come up with solutions quickly is improved.
Playing Chess improves my mental wellbeing through supporting advanced thinking capacity, which is critical in making good decisions in my life. My peers talk of playing Monopoly and FIFA 17, a soccer game. I also like playing these games too. They assist in providing relaxation and offering a sense of entertainment, which is important at times. -Caroline
As I got older I don’t play as many games as I used to. For a while I was stuck on a few app games on my phone but those easily faded out and I haven’t played any recently. So, I will go ahead and reflect on a recent board game I played with a few of my peers called Secret Hitler. I know the title itself says a lot but it honestly was a fun and amusing game if you have people who truly get into it. The game is made up of two groups, one being fascists and the other being liberals. You get thrown into groups when a card is handed to you. You don’t know who is a liberal or fascist and the point of the game is to pass enough liberal laws before the fascist pass fascist laws. There is one layer who is Hitler, and no one knows who it is, not even the other fascists. The other fascists figure out who each other are when the whole group closes their eyes and only fascist keep them open. The goal for the fascist players is to pass enough fascist laws so they can win the game, but they are trying to do this before they are fascist, some will pretend to be liberals, but you never really know until the end of the game who is who. I think this game is fun because you get to see how good of a liar people can be or how easily you can deceive someone and how people turn against each other when it comes to winning the game.
A game that I had played on my computer for a few years through the Steam network, was a team concept role playing game called Team Fortress 2. A friend of mine got me hooked on it after he had played it while and it sounded interesting. Team Fortress 2 is comprised of two teams that are pitted against one another in different scenarios. There is a capture the flag mode, a payload mode (where you need to move some sort of cargo across the landscape to its destination), or a king of the mountain mode (capture and defend points for a given period). What drew me to it was the amount of different characters that you can play, and you aren’t restricted to a certain role the entire round. If you start out as an offensive type character but want, or need, to change to a different character to get a different weapon, you can do so. Also, all the characters appear as cartoon figures. I guess that softened the violence a little bit since the object of the game is to eliminate your opponent to make it easier to achieve your objective, whether you are on offense or defense. Some of the different character you could play are a big guy carrying a Gatling gun, a spy that could cloak to defeat defenses, or an engineer that helps the team by building object like teleporters so that the team can reach the front lines faster after they respawn. I really like playing the game, but I needed to focus on spending my free time on the computer in pursuit of my degree.
I have played World of Warcraft (WOW) on and off for over a decade. It is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO). The purpose of the game is to provide a social environment, a virtual kingdom, for players to play together. Warcrafters can join guilds, and engage in epic battles to overcome various challenges. Players, such as myself, can play against others in competitive player versus player (PVP) game modes.
There are many reasons why I play this MMO. First and foremost; my friends are playing it. I have made new friends and met countless new people along the road as well. The feeling when we, overcome challenges in the game contributed to some of my fondest memories. The game’s incredible complexity is also one of the aspects of WOW that attracted me. As an example, I had 38 key binds to control my character.
The game’s vast open world where you can go anywhere is mesmerizing. The feeling of playing against skilled opponents could be only comparable to some of my athletic competitions. Winning feels just as exhilarating in this virtual world as in real world.
Overall, I can only recommend WOW. Be aware though, it will pull you in, and you will have a tough time doing homework instead of playing.