The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More on video games

Many parents of middle schoolers may have noticed the amount of time their children spend on the internet playing "Runescape." It evidently is the latest thing.

Runescape is a multiplayer internet game where people play against each other by trying to get ahead in an imaginary world. Participants, borrow, trade and barter in an imaginary universe that is basically a giant global economy in cyberspace. They have to deal with unethical players as well as ethical players. If they enter unprotected areas (known as "the wild" according to my son) they can have their goods stolen. ("That's why I never go there," he told me. ) As they get more money and goods they are able to sell them to improve their weapons so they can protect themselves against bigger "monsters" which is evidently how they achieve higher ratings. While there is some violence it isn't your typical "shoot-em-up" graphically violent video game.

The irony is that students will likely remember more about economic interdependence through Runescape then they will by reading and testing on the chapter on "American Capitalism."

It isn't all good though. Sometimes my 12 year old won't even go outside for hours on end. Eyes are glazed. He forgets to eat. Chores? What chores?

A recent commenter on the first post wondered what the impact of all this is on teachers.

Current brain research is proving that students today seemed to be "wired" differently. They are growing up in a visually intense, highly stimulating world. Their need for novelty, fun, and interaction appears to be much higher than previous generations. I think it means as educators we need to provide much more variety in instructional methodologies than we currently do.

That's my take on it.


Anonymous said...

Wow, That's what life is to you? Sounds very materialistic....Beg, borrow, and steal to gain more materialistic things and achieve higher levels. I hope you don't personally teach my children, with those values!

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

Sorry. Im embarrassed. I shouldn't have typed out a cliche like "beg, borrow and steal" without being more careful about what I mean.

I tried to redo the post to reflect it more accurately.

My main point was that there is a lot kids can learn, some of it is good and not all of it is bad, through game simulations.

According to my son, in this game there are players who can steal from you if you go into "unprotected" areas. That, along with the idea that most Americans are trying buy and trade wisely in order to improve their standard of living, is what sounds like real life to me. I wasn't trying to imply that this is the purpose for life. And, I wasn't implying that we should teach children to steal or that collecting material things is what life is all about.

Thanks for waking me up!

Noble said...

As an adult in the school corporation, I so play an MMORPG (this is massive multi-player online role-playing game). My students are aware of this and we have discussed it as part of our internet safety discussions. It amazes me that in this game (Final Fantasy XI), people are always willing to help others, to give a away large sums of gil (the money used), and go out of their way to be of assistance.
So, there may be some lessons wrapped in some video games. Do I support kids playing them for hours? No. But, if they do play video games, there are things that adults need to be aware of. All ages play the online games. The language used is based on the people playing. This is the reason there is an ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) rating on every game. I have seen parents buy games rated M-Mature for 12-year-olds and the content is far too explicit.
So, be careful with the online games- the age is 13 and up- and watch the ratings!

Anonymous said...

I've taken the time to learn the games my son and daughter play and we play together... It's not monopoly but it definitely is quality time we enjoy together.

We have our own voip (voice over internet protocol) server we talk on. They teach me as much as I teach them about learning the in's and out's of the game. You should see the satisfaction on their face when they find something out before I do and get to tell me about it.

This however does not replace the walks in the woods, throwing the ball back and forth, the smell of fresh cut grass, picking Mom's flowers or even the sting of scraping a knee from falling off a bike.

A delicate balance of the types of quality time we spend together as a family and keeping my kids interested in learning, playing and doing chores is a task I took on when I became a parent.

I perceive some of the problems parents have to face with children that are "online" are due to the lack of parental involvement or parental interest in the "online" world.

Rather than using this as a high tech babysitter I think it would be beneficial for parents who want to interact with their kids and make an impact that will continue their growth as individuals via online games, digital interactive educational programs etc... to learn them and do it with them.
Dr. Stock mentioned some of the benefits - but one in particular comes to my mind, "MORALS".
Morals play a big part in the online gaming community. Both good and bad - you need to be there to be able to teach them right from wrong, helping someone else out that maybe less advanced than you etc... Yes there are moral lessons even to be learned in an online game.

There are lots of ways to spend time (quality time) with your kids. You just have to be open to them and "do" them!

As far as mmorpg's, definitely look into the ESRB's rating. But more than that load up the game for yourself and learn it. Check out the online community in game. Many of these games have the ability to shut off different chatting areas etc. All ages do play these games and some of them use it to advertise or just spout off their inabilities to use anything but a few choice 4 letter words.

For me personally it's like being able to play baseball or soccer with son and daughter on the same team. Try running out on the field and helping your kid score a goal or run the bases for them! I don't think that would go over too well with the officials, but in an online game you can do just that.

Wade W. (not J.)

Braxton Fleck said...

I just happened to cross this page while searching 'wawasee runescape' on Google.