While writing his definition essay on the word “game,” Inkwang asked me for my opinion of the word. I said that the thing I like about games is that games are simply groups of rules, so basically anything can be a game when properly defined. Of course, it is possible to center an educational course (in this post, I’ll be directing these thoughts towards my ESL course) around the model that many video games provide. Mr. Pereira first presented this idea, and it’s been germinating in my head ever since. Mr. P suggested that many teenagers are very motivated to play video games, and perhaps if a teacher could distill some of the aspects of video games that drive that motivation, they could apply them to anything. Because a video game is a system, and systems can arguably be used to learn algebra just as easily as they can be used to kill fictional zombies.
So how might I create a video game-like system to help teach my ESL course? Well, first, I must look at what I want. Many video games think about this; the creators of “Call of Duty” want to recreate military experiences realistically. They want other things too, but that’s surely one of their goals. I want to teach English, but more specifically, I want each student to demonstrate mastery over eight areas important for success in an English language classroom: Reading/Main Idea, Short Answer, Research, Outline, Essay Writing, Oral Presentation, and Listening. What seems really cool to me, is that this system seems to have a lot in common with a video game. Each area, or level, has its own set of obstacles that must be dealt overcome. And until those obstacles are mastered, the player can not move on to the next level. Thinking about my ESL course like a video game makes me realize that I can allow each student to move at their own pace, and I can be sure that students will really understand the levels they have passed. Of course, at this time, I don’t have a team of 3D game designers make my class look like “Bioshock,” but for now I am going to try to work with what I can.Here’s where you come in. Many of you play lots more video games than I do. What am I not thinking about? What are your favorite aspects of video game systems? What can I do to make this project as cool as possible?