I switched games. Well, I actually explored many games, but I chose a Mission-US game to investigate more of Gee’s learning principles. I chose Mission 5 “Up From the Dust” because I had just explored a multimodal unit on this topic last semester from Mr. Mastrobuono. I’m sure I will miss a few principles because I’m not a video game analyzer, nor avid player. The game begins with information about the times of the great depression and the dust bowl, a location background, and family information for character references. I had a virtual farm tour to learn where these 2 characters, that I played as, lived and how they lived. It was a typical farm but back in 1929. The player plays as the characters of twins, brother, Frank, and sister, Ginny. There is an identity investment because the player becomes the characters dealing with life in this time period. The player is able to make choices about what direction the conversation goes, but no choice about which character you are at any given time. The game walks you through life back then to essentially tell the history of life, but includes the player in typical choices the people would have to make. I like the history lessons.
There is a prologue scene, and 5 scaffolded scenarios that you must do in order to unlock the next one to get to the epilogue, which is the well-ordered problem principle. Each scenario was the next phase in this time period so you couldn’t skip any until the end, and then you could return to any one. I thought it was very interesting to see the choices they had to make and the way of life. I think you have a bit of customization because you are allowed to have a conversation by making choices of what to say and that reflects the characters attitude which earns reward badges. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to always offer my time and energy to get stars on one of the badges.
As I continue to reflect, I see the information “on demand” & “just in time” principle because as you go through their life problems you get tidbits of information on subjects such as the “New Deal” and the great depression, and the hard choices people had to make back then. Oh my gosh, my character had to kill his pet cow, Daisy. I couldn’t believe it. The game also had 2 more principles, I think, the system thinking and meaning as action image. I could see how you would have to know the big picture to get positive results and earn the badges to live through the times, which is the game. I tried to jump on a train and got hurt 4 times so I knew I may not make it to my destination for my thought out future. I also think I drew on my previous knowledge of the dust bowl and the great depression to know why the families made the choices that they did. It was hard to not say to the game, “You’re going to end up poor! Good Luck!” But I did have some success in my characters futures and I felt very invested in getting to the end so I could see how they turned out as grown adults. Happy Ending!