Friday, 1 August 2014

A Non-Gamers Perspective.

So with all the making things engaging by investigating what makes gamers play going through my head lately, Last night I had the opportunity to have a relatively in-depth discussion with a non-gamer about a recent game they have been playing. My wife is the one that started playing Dragon Story a couple of months ago, so I started playing 'with' her. Last night we had a chat about why she had given the game up and was no longer interested in playing it, or at least why she was clearly not as interested as she was at the beginning.

Now my wife is definitely a non-gamer, she will say it is because most games require some form of hand eye coordination, but given our chat that may not be 100% true. Here is a brief summary of our chat.

What made you keep going back in the beginning?
The dragons were cute and I could collect dragons I didn't have easily.
I felt like I was getting somewhere.

What made you stop enjoying it?
The time taken for no reward, now that I have a fair few of the dragons, I wait hours for them to breed, and then hours for them to hatch, only to already have that dragon, and have to sell it for a ridiculously low value.
What is the 'end game' what am I aiming for, how does it end? I mean with Mario you get to the little flag and "insert attempted Mario flag raising music here".
The cost and time to do things that are not getting me anywhere, what is the point.

What would make you go back to playing it?
Being able to 'gift' the dragons I don't need to others, instead of having to sell them for next to nothing.

So I stewed on this a bit last night in my sleep (my best thinking happens while I sleep) and clearly she has a different 'need' from games than I do. She wants to feel a social connection, which is definitely missing in Dragon Story, I however am a collector, I want the dragons and don't really care that much about social interactions as long as I am getting new dragons.

But what really interests me the most about all of this is the initial 'hook' that made a non-gamer play. I am now also talking to other non-gamers that play these kinds of games, Candy Crush, Bubble Witch and Dragon Story to name a few. There are many of my colleagues, who will readily say that they are non-gamers, that play these games through Facebook. Are they chasing the social connection like my wife, or is that just the beginnings, and then like it did for me some point does it switch from the social, conversation starter (which is why I started Dragon Story, so I could talk to my wife about it) to the collector or achiever types playing and those wanting the social connection stop playing as they need something else to keep them coming back, which Dragon Story is missing, at least in the eyes of my wife.

So how does this apply to my upcoming project? Well it appears that there may be a 'grace' period where even those gamers (or non-gamers) who crave particular things from a game will play the game to see if it meets their needs. How long this grace period lasts I think would be dependent on how alluring the game is to the other needs that the person playing has, even if it is not their main gaming need. So given that this is a relatively short term project, I may not need to hit all the 'gamer' needs exactly from the start, but instead give a 'sniff' of them and allow students to find them on their own.

More discussions have been had since I started writing this post 3 or so hours ago, but I have written enough for now, and need to think about these conversations more before I write about them, so stay tuned for more, I feel like I am on the verge of a big shift in my teaching practice. As always thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment below.

1 comment:

  1. This was the post that hit me and got me interested in your ongoing thoughts :)

    You have another more important question that's lurking under the non-gamers behaviour, the ones you and I teach, why do they play during class instead of learning? Because, at least with my students, they don't problem solve what comes to school task issues.

    They give up too easy.
    Unless it's not a game...

    And when I follow your posts and this one, you have had a chatt with your wife about Dragon Story, interesting post but it also triggers the main question to me: how to change the didactics so it fit our students? But while reading your posts I can also see you have started to think about it.

    This happens to be one of my thoughts as well this very moment of several reasons, pedagogy studies is one. Therefor I enjoy share your thoughts and ideas very much ;)

    With that said, when I started using Minecraft as an educational tool they started to problem solve, seek for information, collaborate and more. In an earlier post you asked what the students should learn while playing games (something like that) and the unintentional learning is the same as the key competences for lifelong learning. That's an important thing to remember because that is hard to achieve elsewhere.

    Something happens when I add a game, or a game thinking. That thing I'd like to catch but I have no idea exactly how at the moment. And even though we, my school, within a week, shall be a so called 1:1 school and apply SAMR I feel as the only one having those thoughts... Therefor I appreciate having discussions like this with people around the world as you ;)

    I don't know if this helps you :)
    1. My wife is a gamer, I met her while playing World of Warcraft. But we have a different goals while playing. I can play over and over, different races, charactersm, classes - my wife has to have a goal. Level 90, check. Exalted with faction X, check. Pass that dungeon, check. Same with Minecraft, our daughter 6yo and I can play Minecraft "for hours" and we doesn't have to have a goal, it's enough to collect blocks (hehe) but to have my wife join us we have to have (a) survival server (challenge) (b) project (big enough to last) and (c) we're not allowed to help her... In WoW the social side was important: guild, collaborate, achive goals. In Minecraft we can collaborate if she is the leader... What makes Minecraft different from MMORPG?

    2. A couple of weeks ago I had a discussion with my mother about why we have to change the way we teach youth today, and of course she against me as that non-gamer she is. Or more correctly, the non-gamer she believe she is. As she finally understood she's actually a gamer born in wrong decade :P With her I have not less than 10 ongoing words with friends (scramble games), why isn't it enough with one? and why does she come up with new rules? (we're not allowed to shift tiles and not pass, you have to find a word!)