This is the second blog post.
Games have been around for centuries. They’ve been used collectively for enjoyment purposes, but there’s a lot of cases where games are used to primarily solve problems. There’s a case in history where a tribe of people were surviving a famine. Their crops would not grow, and things weren’t looking good. One day, the leader of this tribe decided that every single person would play dice games for the entire day. The next day, they would eat the little food they had. For years, they continued doing this. It solved the problem. It kept them alive.
Now, of course we aren’t playing games to fight for our survival. We just play them for fun! And that’s okay. Games are unique in the sense that there is no established end game. The game’s fate lies directly in the hands of the developers, who produce a unique end game or end result. I’m going to go more into detail about how games can facilitate social interactions.
During class, we played the game Hooplah! which, although I was against the idea slightly, was very enjoyable. Hooplah! has an interesting concept. Instead of having a group of people compete against each other to win, they are working together against a common enemy: Time. They have to work together to identify all of their cards before the time runs out. The only way that this can be completed is to work together with your group. Social interaction is almost required.
Other games use social interaction virtually. A game series I hold most dear to my heart, The Walking Dead, does an incredible job of integrating social interaction between characters. Now, if you’re even slightly familiar with The Walking Dead, you’ll know that it’s a single-player game. How can a single-player game have social interaction?
Simple. The social interaction people normally think about involves other humans. In retrospect, each character in a game is based off of some kind of person. Some kind of person that has the same traits or the same characteristics. Unknowingly, they are modeling a character off of somebody who probably exists and acts almost exactly the same. Virtual characters have the potential to be just as interactive as a human being. There is artificial intelligence that mimics human behavior.
The Walking Dead, throughout both “Seasons” (We’ll just call them campaigns) is directly based off of the player’s choice. Take a moment to think about every single thing that influences your choices. Your friends don’t think that is too cool… You’ll pass. Maybe you don’t think that’s too cool… you’ll pass. The game takes a lot of difficult situations and forces you to step out of your comfort zone. You’re forced to choose between people that you care about (Does this happen in the real world?). You’re forced to make decisions that can mean life or death for others. This is a little bit extreme when it comes to social interaction, but if we were in a zombie apocalypse that would totally happen.
Games like The Walking Dead are particularly good at teaching the player. Each choice the player chooses always matters. Everybody remembers what you say to them, just like in the real world. They have feelings and their idea of you is based on how you treat them and others… sort of like in the real world.
Other games, such as the ARMA series, are specifically simulation-based. About a year ago, I was part of a group in Arma that strictly focused on playing the game as realistically as possible. These groups were dubbed ‘realism units’. From my experiences in these groups, I learned very quickly how to take and give orders effectively. I learned how to lead groups of people (virtual avatars with real people behind the wheel) and I also learned how to strategize. I learned how to take out the enemies in a way that was quick and resulted in minimal casualties.
The point I’m trying to make is that gaming creates learning opportunities. It creates an environment begging to be learned about. Games can take a situation you’ll never come across in your lifetime and throw you right into the mix. Games are an immersive way to solve problems as well as a way to learn in a unique setting.