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Failure when Gaming

Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:37 am
by BeCreative
I posted a short paragraph on this in my intro, but thought I'd start a thread on something we touched on yesterday in Google Hangouts... and this is "Failure while Gaming.

Kids "fail" at these games and yet the want to keep trying. This strikes me as odd. We have grown a culture of children who have been given an award, trophy, or certificate for everything! As a teacher who has been around for awhile, I have seen our schools and sport systems grow a culture of children who want to win. I have seen us go so far as to make sure "everyone gets a participation certificate" so no one feels bad. My own children have received trophies for "participating"... not for winning.... because officials wanted to make sure no child felt bad about their performance... no one felt left out.....No one is a failure....

I do think we are changing that thought process now, and we realize that this probably has not been healthy. Not everyone is a winner, can be a winner, or will be winner all the time.

However, why is it that kids don't care that they lose while playing these games? They persist. Failing often makes them work harder, move faster, think quicker! They are motivated to keep trying to WiN. Yet, in the end, they get no trophy, no certificate, and often... nobody ELSE even knows. The learning theory behind all of this is simply fascinating.

Re: Failure when Gaming

Posted: Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:33 am
by chrish
Failure feels to me too like a deep place to think about how we design and imagine educational activities and how they fit into a person's bigger picture.

From the background of the teaching of my first discipline, math, there is another "normal" regarding failure. There are math tests and those who do not do well on them are not cut out for math or, depending on what level of schooling we are talking about, much else. A single failure has pretty big consequences for learners' future lives as well as how they relate to themselves as possible learners of this subject. Worse, the qualities measured by these failures have little bearing on how math is done outside the realm of universal education. When you specialize in it or use math from another domain, it looks very different and makes use of other skills than what passes the math tests in school.

This doesn't necessarily need to be a topic for us, but I often ask: How many of you out there don't consider yourself a math person? What do you trace that back to?

This norm in the world of math education leads to perverse ideas that the only people who are cut out for math are those who see it instantly and get it on the first try. Writ large, I think we sell kids the idea of not trying anything until they are ready to pass the test.

One of the things that brought me over into the games and learning space was the insight that in my game playing growing up, failure played a much more natural and productive role: falling down a pit was valuable feedback that I don't yet know how to jump well, and the only way usually for me to realize that there was something like a farther jump. Failure in the games I grew up playing led the learning of the system by the nose. It was not only okay, but expected. Moreover, in the best of these games, success could mean many things, often in things that were not entirely within the game itself, but only inspired by it.

When we wonder if failure is okay, it can mean many things. In the view where "everyone gets a trophy" we lament the loss of its function to guide improvement, perhaps getting there for the sake of wanting to remove its strong stigma.

When it comes time to make our own games etc. thinking through how we want people to fail is a powerful design consideration, but also one whose outcome still feels fuzzy to me. One of the realities of trying to do this in classrooms is that we have a hard time planning for possible repetition. Failure is easiest to exploit when you have the time and space to try and try again, and can do do at your own pace. Classrooms get one shot at a unit etc. for everyone in lockstep.

Anyway, thanks @BeCreative for getting me thinking about it again.

Re: Failure when Gaming

Posted: Wed Nov 16, 2016 5:58 pm
by WaterGuerrilla
Am currently reading Jesper Juul's The Art of Failure, which was recommended at this year's GLS.

Also consider the part on physiological data related to "spectacular failure" in Super Monkey Ball as referenced by Jane McGonigal in Reality is Broken.