Some of my earliest video game memories actually have nothing to do with the games themselves. The first time I played Nintendo was when my cousin brought over his new machine for a sleep over. We played Double Dribble all night. My dad even got involved and the next day (in my mind if not in reality) we were at K Mart buying our very own. As I got older I moved to a new town and became friends with Mike and Brian. By this time Mime and I both had PCs that had enough power to play Doom. We literally lived across the street from one another it the most fun we had was connecting through our dial up connection for player v player. Back,in the late 90s this meant tying up both phonelines though and since Mike’s mom was a nurse we couldnt play when she was on call. It didn’t really matter because when we did play it usually involved playing a round with a couple extra friends at both houses running back and forth talking trash. When the phone had to be freed up we usually went to Brian’s house to play one of his games like Madden or Command and Conquer or we just shot pool on his dads table. The fun here was never in the game itself though that was a big part. Most of the games we played I had just as much fun playong by myself. The fun was in the People I was with.
Lazzaro describes People (or Social) Fun as “an excuse to hang out with friends…” And it involves building social bonds and team work. The clique of gamers that I grew up with competed against each other, collaborated to improve strategy, and often cooperated when we graduated to Co-op play in later multiplayer games. At times school focuses on the collaboration element of this People Fun. There are good reasons for this (some legit, others less so) but of competition is demonized we are limiting the power of this Fun. Mike, Brian, and the other members of our crew constantly battled each other, but we learned the limits of trash talk, improved our techniques, and actually increased our social bonds by battling together.
So what can teachers do with people fun. In my experience the expectation of a silent and passive classroom is more of an exception than the rule and individual activities are not always bad. Collaborative activities are a way to increase People Fun but be aware that there will be some unfocused time. I would encourage some efforts to structure the collaboration in a way to encourage full participation (my district is in the middle of a Kagan movement, my school uses an AVID model). I would also suggest that some safe competition is appropriate. I am a regional coordinator for the National History Day competition. Every year I see students develop amazing research based projects because of the comparative element. What’s more, because students can work,I groups, I see students learn strategies to improve social skills to manage the long collaborative process. It is possible that students take too much advantage of the social elements. Lazzaro suggests increasing the amount of skill needed in the game. In classroom practice this would mean add some accountability to the collaboration. Have students share out, make a presentation, or have some other benchmark assessment.
One of my goals this year is to improve my ability to develop relationships with students. My first step was to remember tbose lessons I learnes with my gamer crew back in high school – I played games with them.