Playing like a kid

pop 1Easter Sunday provided a perfect opportunity to learn a new game.  As I was walking out of my car on Sunday, I was worried that I still had not blogged about playing a new game.  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw “Pop the Pig” sitting in the living room.  Before lunch I was able to play this game a few times.  I was immediately interested at this large plastic pig.  Based on looks alone, I would give this game high marks on visual appeal.   According to Goliath, the creator or this game, it is the #2 best-selling new kids game of the last five years.  That statistic really had me interested in what this game had to offer.

The basis of the game is to smash burgers into a pig’s mouth until his cloths burst open.  The player rolls the dice and selects a hamburger based on the color rolled.  Then, his head is “pumped” a few times.  Eventually his shirt breaks open.  The burgers were a reasonable size and I think it wouldn’t be difficult for very young children to play this game.  A child could learn colors (4 different ones), numbers, and basic wait your turn/ social skills.  The game play was geared towards 4-8 year old.  It was straight forward and there was no need for any instructions.

pop 2Kids would find this silly and fun, but as an adult it is sort of teaching children a bad message.  I am all for fun kid’s games but the thought of a pig eating a burger to me is a bit cannibalistic to me. Pop the Pig is a silly game that to me that models an actual problem in America.  Eat until you bust.  I am not trying to be the stick in the mud here but these game makers barely even tried to be creative.

I did read some reviews of this game and an Occupational Therapist recommended this for a child who had attention and learning difficulties.  In specific scenarios such as this, maybe there would be more relevance.  In a formal setting where a parent or teacher was walking a child through the steps, this could have positive applications.  In informal settings, I do not think this is as valuable.  The wow factor of the pig’s clothes breaking open does seem to be engaging to children.

pop 3As a parent, maybe opt for a game that teaches more than counting to 4 while over feeding a pig.   This game would not be my first choice at the store, I rate this one as a pass. This game is portable and the cleanup is a breeze for parents as all the burgers (game pieces) can be stored in the game itself.  There are not enough positives to this, to warrant a purchase.  Coming with a steep $22 price tag, I do not feel this game is worth it.  I would get far more use out of “Guess Who”, or “Monopoly”. Challenge your kids, don’t settle for a hamburger eating pig who can’t count past 4.



Ethics: Who draws the line in the sand?


Learning Reflection:  How ethics comes into play in the classroom.

For anyone who may not have read the Ward Game, here is a link to a Vimeo movie that describes it.

ethics 1I have never considered how dramatic the use of gaming in school could affect students attitudes.  As a last ditch effort to get kids to learn and stay motivated their senior year, a game came to the rescue!  This specific game was talked about extensively in Paul Darvasi’s article The Ward Game: How McMurphy, McLuhan and MacGyver Might Help Free Us from McEducation.  I was immediately taken aback when they spoke, in this article, about handing out money (to buy school supplies) to children as a reward for good behavior.  Teachers were at that point grasping at straws trying to get the students to want to learn.   I found the first half of this article to be a surprising look at an education system that had for all intents and purposes given up.  I am by no means blind to America’s failing education system, but to read this authors words in print resonated with me.

ethics 3Ethic’s has not been something that I have thought about much when it comes to education. I would attribute this to me not being in the physical walls of a school.  Working in higher education has provided me a different experience than that of a teacher.  The decisions a teacher makes on what they are “able to do” in a classroom has not been something I have had much experience with.  I have in the past worked with children with disabilities, but for the most part these were individuals who were deaf or many whom had cognitive delays.  There is enormous restrictions on physical touching but not much else.

ethics 4According to Darvasi, “In the case of The Ward Game, the inclusion of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators is also an artistic decision that expresses an important theme in the novel (p.80 2016).

Nothing can prepare you for some real world circumstances.  However, the game did an excellent job of referencing the book that was being taught taught.  In this instance, I think the teacher’s response to an obvious problem of “senoritis” was completely justified.  The teacher towards the end of his article seemed to be questioning his decisions.  I wouldn’t have even thought twice about if it was ethically okay to play this type of game with the students.  I would enjoy diving deeper into this topic as this end of this class is in sight.
ethics 2When it comes to gaming in education, who could possibility be in charge of determining what ethics lines are crossed?  I am not sure who would be the authority on this. Would it be parents, students, or administrators of school districts?  When interacting with my affinity space in Minecraft Edu, I feel I am connecting with those who could potentially weigh in on this.  Highlighting the positive results when playing games in the classroom could only be talked about among this specific group of educators who use it on a daily basis.

I am encouraged and relieved to see this Minecraft group come together to speak about something with such passion.  Not only that, they are willing to share their knowledge in what works in their specific classroom.  Although I cannot apply all of the things I learn in these Tweet chats to my direct workplace, educating people across all types of backgrounds is something I do on a daily basis.  It is because of educators like Paul Darvasi, that there is still hope to reach even those students who may struggle with staying focused.  Kudos to a job well done!

Works Cited

Uncovering Minecraft

affinity 3

This week’s readings had me thinking about my affinity space and my where my learning through games really began. I participated in another #MinecraftEDU chat, this past Wednesday.  This weeks theme was Learning Center Communities or LCC’s.  I had no idea what these were so I educated myself on this before the chat.  Libraries (according to my #MinecraftEdu chat and research) are being overhauled.  There is no longer the thousands of dusty books and silence that was associated with thought of libraries years ago.  While the article I read was quite ominous, libraries aren’t all going away.  They have evolved to include more computers, and places to plug in electronics.  Perhaps most importantly, they are becoming places to collaborate.  Welcome Learning Center Communities!  As technology slowly takes over people’s lives, it should have been obvious to me, the world (or school in this case) is changing as well.

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An example of a Learning Center Community

Someone in the chat I attended mentioned that a librarian was one of the most influential people for them growing up.  I began to wonder where my experience with learning really all began.  At the start of this class, I blogged about playing video games with my family at an early age.  In fact, my experiences with gaming, at least the learning portion of it, started even earlier than I had previously realized.  I was playing the Oregon Trail and Number Stumper in elementary school.  Until reading the assigned articles this week, I mostly forgot about the actual “learning” type games that influenced me as a student.

affinity 4

In addition to participating in a #MinecraftEdu chat, I watched a webcast on, about how to create Minecraft lessons.  I was surprised to see four different people talking about the ways they use Minecraft in the classroom and/or its impact in learning.  They mentioned Minecraft educators and how they band together online.  This was exactly what I was hoping for.  Steven Isaacs an experienced Minecraft educator, who I happen to follow on Twitter, discussed the educator side of using Minecraft in a real world setting.  I enjoying learning various perspectives on how the game can be used to teach virtually anything.  I had never thought about a single open world as being so malleable in school lesson planning.   Not only was it capable of being used to teach various subjects, it also allows for children to play with each other at the same time.

Motiv 5I FINALLY figured out how to play Minecraft this weekend.  BIGGEST accomplishment all semester!  I did not know you are supposed to start on “creative mode.”  Upon first playing this game (for the first few weeks), I had been struggling to stay alive in survival mode by googling how to do everything, each step of the way.  In creative mode, you are free to safely explore spaces and build your world until your heart is content.  While it is not all intuitive, I was finally able to really enjoy the game and build my dream waterfall house.  It’s funny learning with/from (mostly from) a nine year old on how to play Minecraft.  I still feel like an idiot for not figuring this all out sooner.

affinity 1I think I am finally beginning to grasp the versatility of this powerful game.  I can reflect on what Steven Isaacs said about Minecraft.  Instead of teachers assigning roles in the game, they organically become assigned to students through game play.  Students are going home and continuing their school work not because it was assigned but because they actually like what they are learning.  How powerful is that?