Over on Grimwell.com there’s a discussion about the book and some of its ideas. Some quotes:
Learning is fun. But so is doing–so is applying knowledge. I continue to play games (and enjoy them) after I’ve learned everything there is to know about them.
In fact, the only games that I stopped enjoying due to knowledge (or familiarity) were the ones I worked on. In those cases, I think testing the game 100 hours a week for 6 months in debug mode at .004 fps was the most important factor, not my insider knowledge.
Edit: Actually, I partly take this back. I’ve stopped playing new games, not because of my knowledge of that game, but because of my knowledge of the genre. I knew after only an hour or two of play that this game would not offer anything I hadn’t already seen before.
This still doesn’t explain why I’d re-play Planescape or Deus Ex ten times or more, even if I was taking the same path through the game and had read every guide and walkthrough… Gaining knowledge is only part of my motivation.
I know for myself, Learning is the end and all of “fun” in these games. I enjoy the fighting and socializing, but when I quit a game, it is always because I feel like I’ve learned everything I’ve wanted to. This doesn’t mean I know everything, nor that I’m all that good at what I do know. It simply means I’ve looked ahead and see nothing more available to do but apply what I already know.
Unfortunately, that means for me Learning has a built in warranty.
In a player skill game, that’s not as big a problem. I can learn everything I need to know in an FPS or RTS shooter fairly quickly. But to become good at applying that learning requires manual practice.
Not so much in MMORPGs though. The need for me to respond faster hasn’t always grown as much as my need to respond smarter. Which is that warranty.
I’ve been kicking around the idea of a game that is about learning. Albeit this may have been because of long hours studying math books thinking, “There’s gotta be a less boring way to learn math than this!” Yes, I know there’s math games already, but they’re generally geared towards kids or the fun trappings are removed.
It’s got me thinking, if we could combine a first rate education with the addictive mechanics of a MMORPG, we’d have a lot more brilliant people walking around.
Castle in the air or realistic goal?
Learning isn’t the core fun for me. It’s a factor, but not the biggest one. I’d put at least two things far higher than Learning:
I’m always up for a game of Tetris, even if I can’t “learn” anything from the game or improve my nearing-middle-age reflexes any further. Why? It’s fun. And I might “win,” even if I’m playing against myself.
Is just hanging out with friends fun? How about going to a concert? I don’t learn much, especially if I drink… But I have more fun than any game can provide. This is Belonging and closer to the core of most on-line games than Learning.
And I usually get Bartle typed as ESA or EAS. If I, as an “explorer” don’t place Learning first, who does? I enjoy figuring out the game, but I wouldn’t consider it my primary motive.
If learning is the core, how come it’s so hard to make educational games “sticky”?
If you’re interested in joining the discussion, head on over..
I turned in two chapters of edits, plus the first two chapters of endnotes late last night (VERY late). It’s amazing how much tighter you can get your text if you work at it! The endnotes are something that a lot of advance readers have asked for, so I am going back through my research to put them together. It’s been fun, because I keep finding things I forgot to mention. I haven’t settled with the editor whether or not the endnotes will take this form in the book, but if not, I’ll toss them up on the website.
In other news, I think I need to get real blog software. I installed the one that came with the web hosting, and I am not impressed… I can’t get it to point to a page other than the index, and I can’t customize it as I would like, either.