How Much do you Hate Fun? A Reflection on Games and Learning

A little over a month ago, I wrote the post, I Hate Games: An Introduction to History of Play. Since then, I’ve been reading, writing, and thinking about games everyday. Some days I’m heads down trying to make sense of academic papers. Other days I’m reading tweets, commenting on peer blog posts or playing in my new affinity space, Photoblog. Today, I still have no desire to play certain games but, one thing is certain: I’m now always thinking about games.

This became clear to me last weekend when I was hiking Green Mountain and skipping rocks and thinking:

“go as fast as you can without losing your footing.”

It may sound silly but that was so much fun! The simple act of skipping stones has been the main driver of my reflection this week in my Games and Learning class. Of all the things on that hike, skipping stones was the most memorable. Why?

I think it’s what all those academic papers are trying to say: play fosters learning. When we’re engaged in the activity of game play (regardless of content), we’re exercising part of our brain that enables deep learning; often without us even realizing it. Having fun is the worst said no one ever. Okay… you’re right, I’m sure there is someone out there who hates fun.

For anyone who has taken an online course you know it can sometimes feel isolating and confusing. Sure, the LMS has a purpose but shouldn’t limit ways in which we learn online. This is one thing I appreciate about Remi’s courses. The opportunity to push and pull learning from one another via different online networks creates a real robust way of learning online. Here is a rundown of how these networks have enriched my games and learning experience:

Hypothes.is

Hypothes.is has helped me make more sense of academic papers. I often struggle with reading comprehension and this tool has really brought the dreaded thread discussion to life. It feels much more natural to interact with my peers in this manner and I’m constantly gaining new perspectives. There seems to be a bit of gamification with this tool too– at least within our private course group. I have found this to cause a bit of anxiety as well (am I contributing enough?!). Opening up hypothes.is for the first time and seeing 40+ comments can feel overwhelming.

Maybe that’s all part of the game? 🤔

I’ve dabbled a bit with public hypothes.is too– leveraging it to comment on peer blogs. This is better than leaving comments and it feels more chill in terms of amount of annotations.

I had never even considered online annotating prior to this course. I appreciate it’s ability to bring collaboration and a sense of community around specific topics and themes.

Social Media

My love / hate relationship with Twitter continues in this course. As someone who has worked very intensely with social media for the last three and a half years, I’m constantly on the fence about the value of Twitter. However, our Games and Learning Twitter list, has helped me maintain on-going communication outside of hypothes.is, share blogs, and stay up to date on course information / peer activities.

I also participated in two Twitter chats and took away two very different thoughts and perspectives. You can read more about them here and here.

Photoblog

This week I started playing in my affinity space, Photoblog. I chose Photoblog as my space to play this semester because I’ve been talking about getting a photography blog going and this seemed like a great opportunity to really dive in and immerse myself in the practice of sharing my work and learning from like-minded people.

So far, I’ve posted a few blogs, engaged with other bloggers via commenting and Twitter, and started my own photography Pinterest board and Twitter list. I’ve enjoyed the community so far but, really just started diving into it. I look forward to see where this takes me!

I’ll leave this reflection with some closing thoughts…

I’m warming up to the idea that games and play aren’t bound to devices and rules. However, I’m still wondering why games and learning seem so complicated. How is it that we haven’t figured out how to sufficiently measure it to prove it’s worth in education? Hoping this becomes more clear as the semester continues.

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