by Stephen Downes
Oct 14, 2014
The Cargo Cult of Game Mechanics
Hackery, Math & Design,
Really interesting article and really interesting presentation. The thesis is essentially this: game design today has devolved into moneymaking systems that depend on "whales", that is, a small number of compulsive users who will pay to keep playing the game. This is "gaming as serious media." "It generally involves taking away choice, using scripts instead of simulations, with mini-games and quick-time events thrown in to amuse your hindbrain. It's tacitly saying that real storytelling, real human comedy or tragedy, can't happen while a player is in control. It's non-sense of course, plenty of games have done so before." The analogy with serious games in learning is clear, and I think the case is well made. See also this deconstruction of Chrono Trigger.
Could a Newly Launched Metaphorical Search Engine Really Work?
I spent a little time playing around with Yossarian Lives, a search engine that produces metaphorical results for search queries. The idea is, you pit in a search term, it responds with a set of images, and you can select an image, give it a title, and add an explanation. You can then save your idea to a list, and view other people's ideas. I had mixed results, but some of the ones others have produced were quite good. Sadly, the service is really only useful as a toy, as the image sources are commercial libraries and any actual use could get expensive quickly.
The 10K Hour Rule: Deliberate Practice leads to Expertise, and Teaching can trump Genetics
Computing Education Blog,
This is a pretty good article, not only because it invokes the classic 'make a PBJ' example, and not only because it cites the proper source for the 10,000 hours of practice rule (hint: not Gladwell), but also because it provides an intelligent discussion of how the rule applies, offers a telling argument against the counterproposal (that skills are innate and not learned), and teaches us the value of focus and reflection in learning. But there's a not-so-subtle shift from "people can learn" to "people can be taught" and an invocation of the mysterious "power of a great teacher to go beyond simple rote practice to create deliberate opportunities to learn," as though no other means were possible to accomplish the same thing by oneself, or with the aid of friends, projects, life experience or software. See also: Practice Does Not Make Perfect.
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