Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE)
I got stuck on Level 17 (2.7) in Roads to Rome and just had to beat the expert time. The game lets you move even without making expert time, but somehow I just needed to see the next little bit of the statue revealed and that only happens when you finish all the tasks before expert time runs out. Plus, each time I played the level, I got a little bit better and could tell that if I just started building the road a little earlier, I would make it.
Now, I know there are a few of you who are rolling your eyes and thinking that this just proves that games are time killers. After all, I could have been doing something productive and creative like writing a blog post. But since I knew this post would be about gaming, I'm going to call it research. And, part of my brain was writing the post even as I learned how to beat the level in expert time. I was thinking about how I applied what I learned each time to eek just a little bit more speed out of my workers. A few times I restarted when I realized I had not applied the lessons which meant workers were idling away in camp while I waited for resources to regenerate. It has been the toughest level so far in the game, and when the last patch of road appeared with the time bar still in the green, I experienced what, in Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal calls "fiero": an Italian word that basically means "proud" in the sense of "yeah! I finally did it!" As I played the game, I experience what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls "flow," that sense of being completely absorbed in the moment. Two pretty good feelings to achieve on a late Tuesday afternoon.
Last evening, I found flow and fiero in Second Life as well. The crew on VSTE Island had arranged a wonderful July 4th party with lots of activities from kayaking to skydiving. I particularly enjoyed kayaking. I kayak in my first life and found that I could apply my knowledge to the virtual version in order to make my way through the wonderful streams and rivers that are part of VSTE Island. And, in what might seem a strange way, it was relaxing. I think it was the concentration and then the success--flow and fiero--that helped create that sense of calm.
I am not completely sold on all McGonigal's tenets in her book. Parts of it seem overwritten and undersupported. But as I continue to play games, I find that some of what she writes resonates with my own experience so I am not willing to completely deride her.
NB: This post is cross posted at In Another Place.