Let's Play!

What do you want to play?

It is the question that is ask about a million times (maybe a slight exaggeration) by one of my girls to her sister. Sometimes it is followed by a list of chosen games/activities that said girl wants to play.

Often I am amazed at the creativity that follows during their play. Not only creativity but also there is problem solving at times, compromising, and team work. When they play well together (which doesn't happen all the time) it is fun to sit back and enjoy (or take time to blog).

I wonder about the idea of gaming in education. What does it offer in the educational setting?

I ask, because I've seen this as one of the "hot" topics in ed tech. Just this last summer at the San Antonio ISTE Conference, one of the keynote speakers was Jane McGonigal. Jane is a game designer and author of Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. She believes that "playing games is the most productive thing that we can do".

During her speech in San Antonio, she had us thumb wrestle. Not just any old thumb wrestle; but a record breaking, every person in attendance, both thumbs, gigantic thumb wrestle. I still smile when I think about this activity.

She asked us and I ask you (as you think about games that you have played) how that "play" made you feel. Did you feel: joy, relief, love, surprise, pride, curiosity, excitement, awe & wonder, contentment, or creativity?

Now think about the school/educational setting and do we feel any of those? When?

Now let's look at failure. Jane states that gamers spend 80% of the time failing and still love what they are doing (page 64). "Fun failure is a way to prolong the game experience and stretch out the learning process." (page 65)

Do we have "fun failure" in schools? Do we have any "fun failure"? How do we view failure?

I personally have always struggled with failing. I'm my worst critic and do not want others to see or know that I fail. Criticism was hard for a long time because I viewed it as failure.I have learned and continue to learn how to use failure to grow personally and professionally. I know that we all fail and no one enjoys it! It is what we do with that failure that really defines us.

So to think of an opportunity for "fun failure"...

Maybe it will help others who are like me, that have a tough time failing, to see failure in a different light. One that will prolong and stretch out the learning process.

So the next time you play a game (any game) think about the "fun failure" involved and start to think about how we can encourage it.

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