Bill MacKenty

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Getting to Z: part 3

Posted in Games in education on 16 - February 2006 at 09:47 PM (18 years ago). 220 views.

Getting to Z: part 3

We have started Character Generation!

Students have begun the process of crafting their alter-ego in our text based universe, choosing race, attributes, skills, basic appearance and even merits and flaws.

When we are done, it won’t be my students flying around space, it will be their alter egos, their characters. This ability to explore a virtual world in another identity is a really important thing. Students are more likely to take risks and experience failure differently than if they were IRL (in real life).

Moreover, when we start learning ship and navigation basics, it will be in the context of a “new recruit” - opening the student to learning as a total novice. Richard Bartle talks about this identity exploration in his exceptional book, Designing Virtual Worlds

Here are some choice quotes from our recent adventures:

Eric: “Mr. Mackenty, what does a Klingon look like?”
Mr. MacKenty image-googles Klingons.
Eric: ...I think I want to be Human….

And here’s me trying to act cool.

You say, “we have to move quickly”
You say, “we are going to start Character Generation today”
dan says, “ok”
Jay says, ” alright”
andres says, “already”
You say, “the thing is…before you can play, you gotta have skillz”
Jay says, “ur way too cool”

I was very pleased how quickly they picked the syntax of character generation. Most of them finished within 30 minutes, needing very little guidance. They created generally balanced characters, and I was excited to hear the kernel of a good team emerge in our classroom. They started discussing the different roles we would need on our ship; a captain, pilot, tactical officer, engineer, communications, helm, damage control, etc… I hope to clarify their roles next week.

The last step for Character Generation is to create a brief description and then a very brief biography. 

Next week, we will probably get into a small, pre-arranged fight to heighten the excitement and dramatic tension. This will also reinforce the importance of the skills they will need to move around 3D space. 

I’m thinking it will start of as a “typical training mission….”