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Learning Reflection #1

Over the last few months I’ve had the privilege of taking a class called Games & Learning.  Participating in the class through a variety of ways, Hypothes.is annotations, Twitter, WordPress and through canvas has allowed me to see a wide variety of thoughts and opinions of the readings and work we have been assigned.  What the class has thus far helped me understand is the relationship between the player and their learning experience.  What I mean by this is how a player learns a game and how they interact with it on a problem solving level.  A game is a different experience to every player who plays it and most of the games out there provide a different experience each time they are played.  This creates a difficult to study field of work but one rife with data and general conclusions.

A few of my preconceptions about games have been smashed, for instance the amount of educational funding and work that goes into games I was not aware of.  The reading (Jenkins et al 2006) had an extensive review of gaming in education and really opened my eyes to the benefit that games can have.  We also read an article which I couldn’t find(argh!) which discussed the main barriers to games in education wherein lack of funding and lack of understanding lead to lower quality games that are rigid and hard to enjoy.

I also find myself analyzing my game playing techniques as well as thinking about why I’m making the decisions that I am while playing.  This has lead me to an understanding that games are satisfying to me because they create problems and solving these problems give me joy as well as a challenge.

Throughout the course I’ve used Hypothes.is to ask questions it allows my peers to assist with what their thoughts on it may be.  This engagement has allowed for me to see others feedback and use it to better understand the content we are studying.  In addition to this I created a Twitter of which I had avoided using up until now.  While I certainly don’t enjoy using it I can see the direct benefit it has when used in a class setting or in flagging others of your posts or thoughts regarding an issue.

The question I would ask myself would be, “Why do people choose to play a game?” This question I feel is important because a game in and of itself may not appear to be what it really is.  Good games provide challenges and rewards that people can enjoy and learn something from and thoughtful games can make a person feel something they may have not felt out in the real world.  People choose to play games because they seek a challange followed by a reward and where those challenges and rewards fall into in terms of what is offered allow for a large market of games.  This large market of games allow for people to engage with games as a media and ultimately for each person to find a game they want to play.

My ongoing interests in games is how each individual makes choices in them.  Take any game for example that provides the same play through, if two different players interact and play it differently what content did they learn beforehand that lead them to that choice.  Games are a lot like life in that people make choices based on “fight or flight” we seek out patterns and attempt to meet challenges based on our previous experiences with other games and with life.

Play Journal – Magic: The Gathering, The basics

The game I will be playing today is Magic: The Gathering(MTG).  It is a card game generally played with two people (1v1) using a 60 card deck generally made up of 22 lands or “resources” and 38 other cards consisting of a mix of creatures, spells, artifacts, enchantments and an assortment of other fun and interesting things.  A game lasts anywhere from ten minutes to an hour depending on the types of decks or interactions that take place.  Each player plays spells and creatures by “tapping” or turning cards sideways to create mana which allows you to play cards which may have effects.  Each player goes back and forth taking turns until the other player reaches a life total of zero, each player starts at twenty life.

Below is a summation of the games setup as well as some rules:

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Above we see a guideline on how to complete a turn.
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Above we see how to cast spells

For the purposes of playing I am playing against my girlfriend Jessica who has learned in the last few months how to play MTG.  We are using two very basic pre-made decks which are simple in how they play but also provide a consistent and interactive experience.  Using these basics decks allows us to avoid more complicated interactions and longer games.

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The two decks used to play: The deck on the left is a fire deck the deck on the right is a water deck

Alright now lets get down to playing!

The first game played Jessica decided to go first and decided to draw a new hand due to her hand being full of land (resources) generally speaking you want to have a mix of cards.  This is one element of MTG that can be extremely frustrating as the cards you draw are random and sometimes you can encounter an issue where you are “flooded” with resources leading you to be unable to play anything.

Thankfully Jessica drew another hand and it was good.  My hand was also good so we decided to continue play.  I had a rough start and had the exact opposite problem of Jessica in that I took a hand with two lands or resources but couldn’t play anything because everything I had cost more then two.  It took two turns to draw more lands and by that time I was down to 15 life.  By the time I was able to get any creatures out I was down to 8.

Suffice to say the game only lasted 10 minutes, I lost and Jessica reigned supreme.

The primary problem with MTG is its element of random draw while it allows emergent game play it also allows for a player to be set up for failure.  This is where deckbuilding comes into play and making choices about what is in your deck to make things more consistent.  A deckbuilder can take information learned from previous battles and incorporate it into a deck and play test the new deck to find its strengths and weaknesses.

MTG’s main motivating factor is the large customization it allows with the over 10,000 cards available to build a deck.  As discussed in the Salen article, “Learning about games and learning with games take place simultaneously. One cannot learn about or from games without engaging in their play.” MTG illustrates this concept beautifully as well as the idea of no one game being the same from any perspective.  Many choices can be made in MTG but only by playing and trying different decks can one develop the ability to craft decks and make decks that meet a wide variety of challenges.

After learning how to play MTG one must meet the challenge of understanding the depth of it like any other game.  The player determines how to approach the problems they face throughout their experience with MTG and thus becomes aligned with a favorite color (red,blue,black,white or green) each referring to a different play style in MTG.

a LONG LOST BLOG….IS RECOVERED!

After registering my e-mail address with WordPress for the first time in ages for my Games and Learning class I have discovered my old blog!

Joy!

It appears I was just as scientific and politically inclined five years ago as I am now.

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Multiverse theory takes its first baby step to being true!

Recent studies of the glow left after the big bang suggests that several “bubble” universes may have had an effect on our own.  The theory holds that universes pop in and out of existence and “infinitely” expanding staying forever out of reach of one another.  The program they used found the bubble universes to explain away variances in the data but more data would be needed to confirm this suspicion.  Many think physics isn’t at the proper point currently to wrap its grasp around the multiverse idea and to probe our own universe for the answers we need.

Interested? Read more at: BBC

SETI the end of the search, is the end of the idea. Please Read :)

290 miles northeast of San Fransisco nestled at the hills in the hat creek radio observatory is the Allen Telescope Array a project thats been in production since about 2007.  It also houses one of the few spots where radio telescopes are setup to search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).  Also lying in the sand and blue skies is an idea that keeps the human mind at the edge of the most creative imagination, The search for other lifeforms isn’t just a vain search its an idea that every human being feels –the feeling of being alone not only on this planet but in the universe.  Recently the funding has been cut for SETI (in the U.S.) not just the telescopes being built but the project itself, Now I know most people wouldn’t blink twice about this but doesn’t this bother you that this project isn’t a top priority?  Instead we spend the majority of funding on defense and research which is great, Hell, duct tape came from that but at what point is enough enough.  To stop the search no matter how vain it is, is to stop yearning for the ultimate and most important question a human being can ask, Are we alone in the Universe?

You can read an article titled “SETI is Dead” in Nature or register at their site online and read it online.

Fermilab and LHC both show tantalizing hints of Higgs-Boson!


So Fermilab and the LHC in Switzerland are both showing results of the elusive Higgs-Boson particle which gives the Standard model in physics mass.  If you read physics news often you might be apprehensive as this is the 3rd time in two years they have claimed to have evidence proving its existence but peer review shot down the last two finds.  Hopefully we have found it this time, as this time is different than the past they have loads of data and both labs have found the bump in each of their data sets.  What does this mean? You may ask well, It puts us on the path to understanding quantum physics even better as well as making the standard model functional.

Read more at: Nature, New Scientist.