Minecraft the unknown world

MC 4

Engaging in Minecraft:  From excited to feeling out of my league.

For me, Minecraft has been a steep learning curve.  Right off the bat I was completely clueless how to play.  I suppose I was under the assumption that I could jump head first and play.  I downloaded the game on my Mac from Amazon for about 27$.  It was not intuitive downloading the game for a first timer.  I didn’t realize I was actually only getting a code to play the game.  I had to then take this code and register the game on Minecraft’s website (Mojang I believe).

MC 5The world of Minecraft began in a random blocky world.  This is probably one of the most boring and confusing starts to a game that I have ever played.  I apologize in advance if this offends any Minecraft gamers.  I think my lack of enthusiasm is mostly due downloading on a Mac computer, in hindsight. I figured this newer Mac would have good graphics and would be portable.  Unfortunately, I do not have a mouse or controller.  Warning: avoid this game for Mac’s if you are not a professional gamer!!!

After attempting to play this game for the second time, I realized there were tutorials on Mojang’s website.  The tutorials were not as helpful as I imagined but I did warm up to playing the game.  I can see how addicting this game can be.

MC 1Interacting with the Minecraft community may be even more fun than actually playing this game (for me).  I participated in my first #MinecraftEdu chat two nights ago.  Keep in mind this is my second Tweet chat ever.

Because of me misreading the time zone I was a bit late to the party.  Instead of just jumping into chat, I paged back to the beginning of the Tweet chat.  Okay, again for all of the newbies out there, this is NOT a great idea.  I spent so much time trying to catch up with the chat I missed out on a lot of the participation. { Insert Sigh }

MC 2I was behind was because I wasn’t exactly sure what the chat was about.  While attending next week’s #MinecraftEdu chat, I am logging on early and connecting more with people.  The chat this week pertained to use the use of narratives in teaching Minecraft.  I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Speaking with individuals who are well versed in Minecraft Education can put things in perspective. week I am hoping to be able to participate more, until then I still feel completely out of place.

I have been searching for ways to connect with people are are experts in this game.  I found an article  “The top 10 @MinecraftEdu Educators to Follow”.  I was SO excited when I found out that a few of them were in the chat I was in.  This might not sound like the most exciting thing to the average person I realize (this is probably the nerd inside getting pumped up).

When I was told to find an affinity space to “join” I guess I was thinking I was going to be highly engaged in a game.  I find myself way more interested in this Minecraft Education side of it.  To me, this is where the magic is.  Here lies the sweet spot where learning and game play merge.  As for playing the game, I guess time will tell if it grows on me.

MC 3

Sit back, relax and enjoy this puzzle



     Monument Valley is a surreal exploration through fantastical architecture and impossible geometry. The player guides the silent princess Ida through mysterious monuments, to uncover hidden paths, unfold optical illusions and outsmart the enigmatic Crow People.

monument-2For my play journal, I decided on a puzzle game on my Iphone.  This game is a deliberately slow paced game, in which the relaxed tempo and calming music, adds to this effect.  It relies on optical illusions and hidden solutions to achieve the goal of moving the main character from a start point to an end point.  The use of perspectives and angle changes adds to its challenging nature.  There really doesn’t seem to be many rules to this game.  It is a fluid experience of discovery.

In Monument Valley you are playing a girl walking around trying to maneuver around staircases, walk ways and odd crow people who want to block your path.  The game design is probably the most creative and well thought out of any game I have ever played.  It was more than just random trees or distracting backgrounds.  Every staircase and every bridge had a purpose for being part of the puzzle.  As you twist one road your perception of the entire stage changed.  It is almost difficult to explain in words the creativity the designers were able to capture.  Your only downfall in playing this game is not thinking far enough outside the box to complete the seemingly simple puzzles.

monument-1I choose this game because it won quite a few awards.  I read that it was a very mellow and calming game play.  Who doesn’t need something like that in their life?  I began playing this game as I rode the light rail to work every day.  It was a relaxing experience being able to play a game that is so detracting on my way to work.  Previous to this, I would read the news on the light rail.  Playing this game evoked a completely different emotion in me.  It helped my day start off on a much different note.

Playing Monument Valley, made me think of the readings from this week.  In particular the article written by Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan.  This article focused on the changes that occur in people’s brains when gamers solved puzzles.  While playing this game I became better at working through countless trial and error strategies.  I think I would perform better than a non-gamer in finding solutions to the puzzles.  If this game was used in the study above, I think the results would be the same.

     Not only did the gamer group do a lot better at the task, they used a more complex “multi-cue” strategy to complete it.  (Campbell-Dollaghan, 2015)

monument-4There wasn’t a budget or time frame for completing this game when it was designed.  It is based off of M.C. Escher’s concept of puzzles.  I read about the background of this game.  It only took a mere 10 months to complete.  The basic concept was the idea of perspectives being pivotal in figuring out how to complete a stage.  I was surprised at how easy Monument Valley was to learn to play.  There is no wrong way to play.  Instructions and tutorials are none existent, because it is a fluid visual puzzle.  I am curious at how they developed all of the intricate stages of this game.

I would recommend this game for anyone who enjoys visual puzzles or for a person who needs a peaceful distraction from life.


Playing games in Higher Education


Scholarly Critique #4

“Much of the literature thus far has spoken to GBL’s (Game Based Learning) potential, rather than to its demonstrable effects, often making grandiose claims unsupported by the evidence (Crocco, Offenholley, and Hernandez, 2016 p. 406).”

I selected this article because it because it has a direct impact in the environment I work in.   Currently, I work at Employee Services for the University of Colorado.  I regularly make training documents as well as workflow improvements to current policy and procedures used both internally and externally.  This article was written last year, which makes it even more relevant to the way I create training documents.

gblThe interesting part of this study is that the author recognizes there are mixed findings when it comes to the effectiveness of game based learning (GBL). The authors questioned sample sizes and measures past studies used when doing their research.  This is the first time I have seen a scholarly article, not immediately assume GBL was successful.

According to Crocco et al.,

      “…insufficient evidence exists to justify the many rosy claims for the affordances it provides. This is particularly the case in higher education, which, for various reasons, has been slow to adopt GBL and has not produced quantitative evaluations of significant size to test its efficacy (2016, p. 405).”

testI could not point out any evidence that was missing from the study they did. According to their article, it began in 2011 and went on over the course of several semesters/class sections.  I was excited to find an article so new and relevant to this class. 440 students in undergraduate courses would be the test group.  Half of the participants participated in game based learning and half learned through traditional instruction.

Covering three different subjects for this undergraduate study was ambitious. I would like to see this done (if possible) to the same group of people every year until they graduate.  Also, doing comparisons between freshman and seniors could provide an interesting contrast.  There are countless higher education populations that could be examined following these basic criteria.  These various opportunities to capture different age groups, could uncover even more clarity in higher education realm.

graduateThe advantage to doing a study like this in higher education is students maybe more willing to participate, as they could possibly be incentivized. When getting my Bachelor’s degree, I was asked constantly to do surveys or to participate in research for money or other incentives.

The results of the study done was surprising, it appears that “GBL curriculum provides no tangible benefit, at least in terms of quiz score” however “more enjoyment of the lesson correlated with improvements in deep learning regardless of whether games were used or not, and games tended to increase enjoyment (Crocco et al., 2016 p. 418).”

Figure 5: Enjoyment of the lesson, visually shows the results from the study


After reading this, I began to wonder, is a good grade more or less important than a person actually enjoying what they are learning?

Learning through games is not for everyone.  There will always be weight in using traditional methods to teach students.  Also, there are opportunities to use games in to teach some of the more complicated subjects.  This could be something to look into in the future.

Works Cited:

A Proof-of-Concept Study of Game-Based Learning in Higher Education  Francesco Crocco, KathleenOffenholley, Carlos Hernandez.  Simulation & Gaming.  Vol 47, Issue 4, pp. 403 – 422. First published date: February-26-2016  10.1177/1046878116632484