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jamesste

jamesste has written 23 posts for ENG 380: New Media

Research Paper: Video Games in the Classroom

It is common knowledge that throughout history, new technologies have changed the lifestyles of so many people.  Thanks to some very important inventions, society has become the way it is today.  Inventions like the printing press and the computer have impacted how people not only communicate thoughts and ideas, but also how they learn.  This has also impacted the educational system throughout the world.  Thanks to new technologies, people are constantly able to learn new things in new ways at a much faster pace than the generations before.  There seems to currently be, however, a halt in the change of the face of education.  Recently, classrooms have not changed at the same pace as the world outside of them, and they have been stuck in the same place for quite some time now.

Since the 1970s, playing video games has been a growing pastime for all sorts of people.  Fast forward to the current date and video games are everywhere.  They can be found not only on consoles designed specifically for the use of playing, but also on our computers and phones.  Video games have been used as advertisements and parts of political campaigns.  It is true that they literally are everywhere we go.  That is everywhere except one place: the classroom.  The typical classroom has not changed with society simply because it has blocked out a very influential part of modern day life.  Without the video game, the classroom is a place separated and different than the outside world, so it is time to incorporate the outside world, meaning the one that includes video games, into the classroom.  Questions arise with this issue such as how this can be done, what benefits video games have on learning, and if students would actually benefit from a curriculum that allows video games to be played right in school.

The first issue that needs to be addressed when it comes to putting video games into a classroom is why it should be done in the first place.  After all, the current educational system has worked for years, so many would argue that there is no point in fixing something that is not broken.  However, something can always be improved even if it works already.  Kids these days are completely surrounded by technology.  It is no longer a luxury, but simply a part of life that is expected.  When this is taken away, for example in school, kids do not feel engaged or motivated (Leonard Annetta).  This really makes sense to anyone who simple takes a moment to think about it.  If someone is used to being able to interact with games and have them respond to the individual’s interactions, why would this person want to give that up in place for simply sitting at a desk?  Kids want to play games.  This has always been true but this can be proven in the modern day by simply looking at the fact that so many kids pay (or have their parents pay) large sums of money to buy a video game or even monthly fees to play popular online games such as World of Warcraft (Leonard Annetta).  Children and adolescents alike want to play video games, and there really is not much arguing against that.  Studies have also shown that females enjoy playing video games just as much.  The only slight difference that is sometimes found is the specific types of video games most commonly played by each gender (Angelone).  So if everyone wants to play these games, it only makes sense that they would want to play them in class.  A modern day movement is beginning to realize that if these games could be turned into an educational tool, then students would feel much more motivated to learn.  Many adults are beginning to realize that if the lines between education and entertainment can be blurred, much more can be learned (Tannahill).

Clearly kids want to play video games.  However, that reason alone is not enough to really push to get them put into schools.  A major benefit of video games that is enough to help with this push is the fact that they have potential to help with many cognitive processes.  Take, for example, Tetris.  This simple game requires the player to take simple shaped blocks and attempt to fit them together.  When a row is filled with these blocks, it will disappear, thus giving more room to continue playing.  Unsuccessfully fitting these shapes together as they fall results in using up more than the given space and then it’s game over for the player.  “The elemental shapes (or “Tetriminos”) found in Tetris stimulate our visual system to engage in low-level pattern recognition.  Players report not only seeing falling Tetriminos in their peripheral vision and while dreaming but even find themselves attempting to mentally interlock real world objects together” (Tannahill).  This means that playing a simple video game can help with puzzle solving skills that could be needed in many life activities.

Along with puzzle solving skills, video games allow failure to be a learning device, something that schools already try to succeed at but are not always successful at.  With video games, failure happens so often in the form of dying, not completing a mission in time, or many other possibilities.  Failure happens so often that it feels like such a temporary thing, and the next time failure could be turned into success (Tannahill).  This means that a student will continue to feel motivated, even after failure.  If this could be incorporated into the school system, a lot more learning would happen.  Currently, if a student fails an assignment, he will receive a failing grade and then move on with life.  If the material was not mastered then, it will definitely not be mastered after the assignment is done with.  Video games allow students to try again until they succeed, fully mastering whatever is required in that specific task.

Now it makes sense as to why video games should be put into classrooms, but an even larger question is how this is even possible.  The most obvious answer is to create video games that are meant to teach specific lessons normally taught in traditional ways in the classroom.  This would require the need for someone to not only understand the concepts but also have good knowledge on how to create fun and exciting video games.  Some of these games, conveniently called “serious games”, have already been created.  For example, there is a game developed by Brown University called Immune Attack that has a goal of teaching many concepts of biology.  In this game, the player drives around a nanobot inside a body that has lost immunity to everything.  The point is to fix the white blood cells so that they properly work again (Leonard Annetta).  Along the way, real life biological processes are taught and each level introduces a new infection with a new type of immune cell to train.  This sounds like a real video game that kids would buy on their own time.  The only difference is this is teaching real life processes of immunity using real diseases.  This would get a student engaged much more than sitting through lectures where the teacher simply lists the infections and which cells fight them off and how.  The game provides real goals that can be completed and rewards for completing them: saving the body from that infection.  With the simple lecture version of this same lesson, there are no goals or rewards, except maybe passing a test at the end, which is not nearly as exciting.

Science is not the only subject that has had games designed specifically for it.  Social studies is another subject that has great potential for video games to be included into the classroom.  This is largely due to history playing out in the form of a story.  Real life history has a sequence of events that develop a plot with causes and effects.  One game, titled Discover Babylon, has been designed by University of California students and faculty, in order to teach history lessons to eight to fourteen year olds.  This multiplayer game uses “historically and scientifically accurate information, 3D photorealistic simulations, as well as question and answer management tools intended to foster learning” (Leonard Annetta).  The only way to complete challenges in this game is by developing an understanding of the society, business practices, and trade of Mesopotamia.  This game, much like Immune Attack teaches the lessons that would normally be covered with lectures or possibly a video.  The video game, however, makes the lesson interactive.  Students learn as they complete challenges and use their own curiosity to dive deeper into the material, which is essentially the point of putting these video games into school to begin with.

Along with specific games designed to help teach specific lessons, it is also possible to go even deeper into putting video games in the classroom.  An extreme way to do so would be to turn the entire classroom into a video game world.  This has been done at North Carolina State University, where an entire class was taught online in the form of a video game (Len Annetta).  Here, students were able to roam around the online game world when, where, and how they pleased, while completing minigames such as “Phases of the Moon” and “Who Killed the Pharaoh?” all over the place that were used in place of teaching actual lessons.  Inside the game world was an easily accessible virtual classroom where the professor’s avatar would be around to answer questions at specific times of the day along with other times that he decided to log in (Len Annetta).  The point of teaching this entire course in the form of a video game is to allow interaction on all levels possible.  Not only are students able to interact with the lessons, in the form of games, but they are also able to interact with one another in the online world.  Each student creates an avatar, allowing for personalization and individuality as well.  There are other ways to do this besides creating it as an online college course (Len Annetta).  This could be taught in a high school room, where the students would get their lessons from the game during the class period, but then the teacher can also be available in the classroom to answer any personal questions.  This would allow for much more one on one personalized teaching from the instructor, as she does not have to use any time teaching an entire class all at once.

While these all seem like very interesting ways to teach, anyone with any a sense of reality would have to question the possibility of actually using these video games as teaching methods.  First there is the problem of finding someone to create these games simply because most educators do not have the skills to do so.  There would have to be a lot of interaction between both educators and game developers to make sure that all the proper material is included in the game.  Even with knowledgeable workers developing the game, there is also the problem that different states have different standards.  While some may focus on one thing, others may focus on others, making it very difficult to create a game that would be useful across the country.  Then there is also a matter of money.  “Though many universities and private companies have begun to make excellent video games that are specifically educational, these are often expensive or part of a specific study in which a school must be participating” (Angelone).  Most school districts currently do not have piles of extra money to pour into these video game programs.  Many school districts are already struggling to get basic textbooks with current funding, so video game technology is absolutely not going to happen.

There are, however, alternatives to creating a video game based on a lesson or a course.  After all, there are countless commercial video games already on the market that would be much cheaper to get into the classroom.  All that is needed is a little bit of creativity on the teacher’s part and a game could be tied into a lesson and seem just as appropriate as a game like Immune Attack.

Take, for example, the English classroom.  Especially in lower class school districts, a problem that many teachers face is simply teaching their students how to read.  A video game is the perfect way to combine education and entertainment.  All that is needed is a video game with a lot of text (Adams).  A good example is 2002’s Neverwinter Nights.  This particular game does include violence, which may not be seen as a positive thing, but in all reality, its battles are no more intense than anything read in Titus Andronicus or Beowulf, texts often read in high school.  More importantly, is this game would get students involved in reading.  Students could be put into groups, where they would have to read the text out loud.  In order to continue the game, students have to first read the dialogues and descriptions, with are essential to understanding how to win the battle.  This allows the students to play video games, an activity that they will surely enjoy doing, while improving their reading skills.  The game can even be a worthwhile activity for more experienced readers because of challenging and unfamiliar vocabulary due to the context and scenery of the game (Adams).  While this game is would be a great tool because of the amount of text, it is one of many that could be used.  The best part is any game can be used, especially role playing games, as they often have a lot of text to read.  A teacher could get to know the personalities of the students to find a game that would be enjoyable by each class.

ELA classes are not the only ones that can benefit from video games.  Biology classes can also benefit from commercial games as long as a teacher is willing to use many tying together skills taught when receiving certification (Angelone).  Take, for example, the game Spore.  In this game, players create an organism that they then have to adapt many times throughout the game in response to a changing environment.  This sounds just like evolution.  While the game is fun on its own and many kids play it outside of school, with teacher instruction, it can now become a learning tool.  Have the students play it for a few class periods, in which they will get to see how important it is for their organism to change in order for survival.  The most important part of this type of activity is tying it up at the end.  Students would benefit the most with activities that involve them connecting their game experience with concepts they learned about evolution (Angelone).  This will help lock the concepts into the brain as the students will now have not only visual ties to the theory, but also interactive ones.  Also, for deeper thinking, students could be asked about what could be changed about the game to be more realistic with the actual theory of evolution.  The possibilities are endless.  The key to including a video game into any subject matter is that the teacher has to be creative.  Also, the teacher has to keep a close monitoring of the gameplay to make sure that students are playing the game for the right reasons.

While it may seem like a challenge to incorporate video games into the core subjects, it may seem like even more of a challenge to incorporate video games into other classes, such as Physical Education.  This is largely due to the fact that up until now, video games and physical activity were seen as complete opposites on the spectrum.  Surprisingly enough, physical education classes are currently the ones that most often use video games to help complete goals (Christie).  Games such as Wii Fit and Dance, Dance Revolution have been used in gym classes to get kids moving.  While many students do not enjoy sports or physical activity, they do enjoy playing these games that get kids on their feet and using their body.  These games are a combination of the video games that people love with actual movements that promote physical health (Christie).  A great thing about exposing kids to these games is that some that normally live very sedentary lives playing video games all the time might purchase these games for their own homes.  These games will challenge all different fitness levels because of the various difficulty levels provided.  This way, even athletes can get a good workout from these games.

It seems like one of the best methods to getting commercial video games into the classroom is through the form of stations.  It is suggested that a teacher sets up multiple activities that can be done in groups, where the video game is simply one activity (Angelone).  This way, only one or two copies of the game have to be purchased as many newer games can cost around $60.  By having the games be part of a rotation, numerous copies would not have to be purchased so that each student has one.  This seems like the most cost efficient way to incorporate video games into the classroom when many schools face tight budgets.

Bringing video games into the classroom will allow the interactive and engaging world enter the learning environment.  The educational system would be caught up with modern technology and students will be happy.  Happy and engaged students will learn more material in a quicker amount of time.  Maybe this is the way to help us in the race to the top.  One thing is for sure, the current system is limited to what it always has been.  At one point, this was acceptable because the limits of education at the time were the same as the limits of technology.  However, it is time to help the classroom develop just as the outside world has.  Video games will allow the classroom to do just that.  This new interactive classroom is the key to promoting maximum potential out of students, a goal that has always been a major part of the education system.

 

Works Cited

Adams, Megan Glover. “Engaging 21st-Century Adolescents: Video Games in the Reading Classroom.” English Journal: n. pag. JSTOR. Web. 25 June 2013.

Angelone, Lauren. “Commercial Video Games in the Science Classroom.” Science Scope (2010): n. pag. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 June 2013.

Annetta, Len. “Serious Games: Incorporating Video Games in the Classroom.” Educause Review Online (2006): n. pag. Directory of Open Access Journals. Web. 25 June 2013.

Annetta, Leonard. “Video Games in Education: Why They Should Be Used and How They Are Being Used.” Theory Into Practice: n. pag. EBSCOhost. Web. 14 June 2013.

Christie, Brett. “Interactive Video Games in Physical Education: Rather than Contribute to a Sedentary Lifestyle, These Games Demand Activity from the Players.” The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance: n. pag. Academic OneFile. Web. 14 June 2013.

Tannahill, Nick. “Video Games and Higher Education: What Can “Call of Duty” Teach Our Students?” Frontiers in Psychology: n. pag. Print.

Research Blog #10: Reflections

With the completion of my research and me wrapping on the ending of my final paper, I think it is important to reflect on the process.  What began as very challenging research to find became easy once I played around with my search terms.  After I did that, it seemed as though I was able to find a lot of useful information very quickly.

What I got out of the information is that in order to incorporate video games into the classroom, a lot of creativity is required out of the teacher.  The teacher must be able to tie in a game that was not meant to teach that particular lesson and make it relevant.  This should be done with activities at the end.  Asking questions such as “How does this game relate to what we have been learning?” or “How could this game be changed to make it more accurate based on what we have learned?” are both extremely important.  Allowing students to make their own connections is the key to successfully incorporating video games into the classroom.

Research Blog #9: Introduction

Now that I have completed most of the research that I believe will be necessary for me to write my paper, I have started to write out the intro and my thesis.  However, I am not quite sure what my actual thesis is.  I know that I want to discuss how video games can be included in the classroom, but also why they should be included in the first place.  Here is my first draft of my introduction to my paper:

It is common knowledge that throughout history, new technologies have changed the lifestyles of so many people.  Thanks to some very important inventions, society has become the way it is today.  Inventions like the printing press and the computer have impacted how people not only communicate thoughts and ideas, but also how they learn.  This has also impacted the educational system throughout the world.  Thanks to new technologies, people are constantly able to learn new things in new ways at a much faster pace than the generations before.  There seems to currently be, however, a halt in the change of the face of education.  Recently, classrooms have not changed at the same pace as the world outside of them, and they have been stuck in the same place for quite some time now.

Since the 1970s, playing video games has been a growing pastime for all sorts of people.  Fast forward to the current date and video games are everywhere.  They can be found not only on consoles designed specifically for the use of playing, but also on our computers and phones.  Video games have been used as advertisements and parts of political campaigns.  It is true that they literally are everywhere we go.  That is everywhere except one place: the classroom.  The typical classroom has not changed with society simply because it has blocked out a very influential part of modern day life.  Without the video game, the classroom is a place separated and different than the outside world, so it is time to incorporate the outside world, meaning the one that includes video games, into the classroom.  Questions arise with this issue such as how this can be done, what benefits video games have on learning, and if students would actually benefit from a curriculum that allows video games to be played right in school.

Research Blog #8: Video Games in the Reading Classroom

What I found most interesting with all of my research is how video games can be incorporated into the typical reading or ELA classroom.  I figured the only way to do this was to simply read things about video games, much like we are doing now.  According to my article, in reality, students can play video games in the classroom to help their reading skills.  All that is really needed is a video game that has a lot of text.  Students could be put into pairs, one of them being an advanced reader and the other being one that needs a little practice.  From there, the students would be required to read the text aloud as the game is actually played, in order to ensure that the activity is being properly utilized.  Role playing games are great for the classroom simply because many require a lot of dialogue and many of the words can be challenging and unfamiliar due to the context and scenery of the game.  The article suggests the use of the game Neverwinter Nights, a 2002 game that not only has a lot of reading, but also includes challenges that require problem and puzzle solving skills.  This particular game does include violence, which may not be seen as a positive thing, but in all reality, its battles are no more intense than anything read in Titus Andronicus or Beowulf, texts often read in high school.  I like this article because I think it points out a great tool for learning to read, and it is one that is already used outside the classroom.  The difference of putting it inside the classroom is that the reading will be monitored and vocabulary can be made, as opposed to in the free time, where passages may be skipped or overlooked.

Adams, Megan Glover. “Engaging 21st-Century Adolescents: Video Games in the Reading Classroom.” English Journal: n. pag. JSTOR. Web. 25 June 2013.

Research Blog #7: Serious Games

This article gives a good look into what universities are doing to help break the technology barrier in a majority of grade school settings.  The idea is to create educational video games specifically designed for the classroom.  The goal of these games is to expand the learning environment to outside a room with four and into many different worlds with different qualities that can help the learning process.  Research suggests that these games need to have a chat based model, meaning a way for students to interact with others in the particular game world, allowing for learning based on communication and relationships.  The article gives an example of an entire course that was taught through a personally created video game.  Each student created an avatar which then could roam the video game world, which included a virtual classroom.  Along with virtual lectures, many minigames were deigned into the game to help with various science topics such as the phases of the moon. This seems like a fascinating idea to me, because this does not just incorporate video games into the classroom, but it turns the entire class into a video game, which would be greatly enjoyed by students.  I definitely feel as though I will incorporate this into my final paper.  One problem I do find with this, however, is how costly this would be to implement, which would make many people skeptical about the possibility of this actually happening.

Annetta, Len. “Serious Games: Incorporating Video Games in the Classroom.” Educause Review Online (2006): n. pag. Directory of Open Access Journals. Web. 25 June 2013.

Research Blog #6: Commercial Video Games in the Science Classroom

I just came across an article that talks about how video games can be used in science classrooms.  As a general rule, the article explains that the right video game can promote exploration, discovery, gathering of data, and the repeated formulation of a hypothesis based on mistakes and new data collected.  To me, these skills all sound like ones taught in science labs.  A benefit of the games is that they turn off any disgust that a student may have with the school because commercial video games are just that, video games that can and are bought outside the classroom for home use.  This means that bringing them into the classroom will make a student feel as though he is not necessarily participating in a school activity.  The article specifically states, “I recommend teachers develop units that allow students to play in small groups, create their own identities, explore as much as possible, debrief with teachers and peers, and then, as an assessment, produce a final product that displays the new knowledge or skill they developed in the game.”  To me, this seems like the key, because a video game is simply a video game without teacher interaction.  Once the teach explains that playing it will be part of a project where a student has to correlate the game with the actual lesson material, then it becomes a learning tool.  The article also gives great ways to help put the game into the classroom as easy as possible.  This means that (since there most likely would only be one copy of the game for the classroom since they are relatively expensive) the game will be one of multiple stations that students must rotate through.  This way, only a small group of students would be using the video game at a time.  Along with how video games as a whole could be used in the classroom, the article also lists specific video games and how they could be used.  I will definitely use this article in my final paper because it seems to give so much useful information about the actual use of the game in the classroom, something that I have really yet to find.  I feel as though this information would be very beneficial to any parent or teacher.  It goes against the media’s perceptions of video games and gives light as to how they can actually be beneficial.

Angelone, Lauren. “Commercial Video Games in the Science Classroom.” Science Scope (2010): n. pag. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 June 2013.

Research Blog #5: Overcoming Topic Challenges

When I picked the topic of video games and education, the specific goal I had in mind was to find ways that video games can and have been incorporated into the education system.  I chose this because I have heard a lot about this in my education classes and also because I thought it could possibly benefit me in the future as I continue on my track towards becoming a certified teacher with a full time job in a school.  Based on how often this kind of topic came up in my classes, I figured it would be relatively simple to find the type of information I was looking for.  However, up until now I have not had such luck.  Most of the articles I found were about how video games promote brain functions, which in turn can help performance in school.  While this information is interesting, it is not specifically what I was looking for to write my paper on.  I was using the terms “video games and education” to help find my topics and struggled finding what I wanted.  However, I recently realized that instead of saying “education”, I should say “classroom” and this has helped me find exactly the types of topics I was looking for.  To me, the words “education” and “classroom” are very similar so I figured they would pull up the same type of results, but to my pleasant surprise, I was mistaken.  This makes me feel a lot more comfortable with my research because I am finding a lot on how video games can be used in specific areas, such as the middle school classroom, and also science and literature classrooms.  This goes to show that the exact words you use when looking for information are extremely important.

Research Blog #4: Video Games and Higher Education

This article I found gives a great overview on why video games work in the education system today.  The general answer is it is what kids in the net generation like.  Using games in the classroom blur the line between education and entertainment, something that students feel most productive with.  To help encourage the use of game play, the article explains that playing video games release many hormones that have to do with cognition and visual abilities.  Tetris is given as an example.  Fitting the blocks together on a regular basis causes people to try to fit things together mentally even when not playing the game.  This could be thought of as a basic tool to help promote problem solving skills.  The article also mentions many things that we have read during this course, such as how video games stimulate reward senses and help to motivate the brain.  Also, video games ensure that failure is used as a motivation device as one is able and encouraged to keep trying.

I think this article is helpful because it explains that video games provide a lot of benefits to cognition.  Many things read in the course are proven here and that helps with believability.  One downfall in this article for my use is it does not really mention anything about how to incorporate this in the classroom.  It specifically talks about how the use of video games in free time and promote thinking while in school.  While this is helpful, it is not specifically what I am looking for.

Tannahill, Nick. “Video Games and Higher Education: What Can “Call of Duty” Teach Our Students?” Frontiers in Psychology: n. pag. Print.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf Review

Moving can be tough.  There are new people, a new town, and new places to get used to.  All this has to be done alone, with no friends or family to guide your way.  This is your new welcome to your new life in a new town.  This is the scary, but exciting beginning to Animal Crossing: New Leaf.  This beginning is very similar to the previous titles of the series, but this one for The Nintendo 3DS is different.  This time, you are the mayor, and not just a normal citizen in the town.

Everyone knew that Animal Crossing: New Leaf would bring the same type of gameplay that its previous titles did.  Hours can be spent fishing, catching insects, talking to neighbors, and selling various items obtained throughout the day in order to pay off the house are just a few of the familiar activities that can be done on a daily basis in the game.  The question, however, is would this new title finally feel like a new and different game?  After all, Wild World and City Folk were almost the exact same as the original title with only a few minor changes.  Have no fear, however, because this time around, game developers have made enough major changes to the game in order for it to feel new and fresh just like the original title did when it came out over ten years ago.

From the very beginning, the player realizes that this time around things are different.  Much like the story we are familiar with, we enter the town, are greeted by a few residents, and are shown how things work.  Then, the game takes a different path.  We then attend a tree planting ceremony that celebrates the arrival of the new mayor, meaning us as the player.  From here on out, we get a lot more control of the game.  We get to have a say in the entire town by raising funds for public works projects.  We can have a bench placed here or a bridge there.  Whatever you choose, it is entirely up to you.  No more sitting back in a village that is the same every day and is destined to never change.

This is the first game of the series that really rewards you for your hard work.  In previous titles, you could expand the size of your house, but other than that, there were no other rewards for your actions besides the minor golden fishing rod or silver shovel.  You see a direct impact that you have on your town.  Once you complete a major project, your townspeople flock your mailbox with letters of approval and thanks.  Also, the more improve, the more options you get for even better things to improve.  Even the landmarks we are all so familiar with such as the town store and the museum can be improved once you develop a growing area.

One major addition to this new title in the series is the nearby island getaway that you can travel to twenty-four hours of the day.  Here, opportunities to find new things (and make some serious money) are all over the place.  The island is surrounded by rare fish and covered with exotic insects just waiting for you to attempt to catch.  These are a great find for any collection or can be sold for a hefty price back on the mainland.  On top of that, the island currency is in the form of medals, which you can obtain by playing various minigames on the island, something that has never been an option in the previous games.  Then, you can use your medals to buy items only available in the daily changing stock of the island itself.

Of course, New Leaf still requires the same creativity that the other titles did to really enjoy the game.  With the clock of the town traveling at the same speed as the real world clock, hours of the day go at a normal rate, along with the changing of the seasons that allow for new fish, insects, and events.  One still has plenty of options to fill the time.  With the greater selection of clothing items to choose from, anyone can play around with wearing whatever ridiculous outfit he wants.  Want to wear a balloon hat with a full armor suit?  Who cares?  It’s not like the other townspeople don’t look as ridiculous.  Complain that your next door neighbor is rude, sent love letters to everyone in town, or try desperately to get that obnoxious duck to change her ugly shirt.  It really does not matter, as there are no rules, and no matter what you do, the townspeople will more or less like you no matter what you say.

A major downfall of the game (that hasn’t improved at all since its first title) is the repetitive dialogue that you will hear on a daily basis.  Animal Crossing is a game that requires almost daily play to really be successful, and it is fun enough to make you want to play that often.  However, you will learn really quickly what each character in your town is going to say to you when you approach him.  The citizens in your town all have a set selection of conversations they will have with you depending on their given personality type.  What is worse than that is that the people that work in your town, such as Blathers at the museum, is going to give you the same spiel about finding fossils every time you speak to him.  That part gets repetitive really fast.

Even yet, the game is still enjoyable.  Enough changes have been made to make the old Animal Crossing fan feel as though the game is new enough that once again hours can be played collecting, selling, and decorating.  Not only that, but the 3DS software makes it easier than ever to connect with friends and have them pay a visit or even visit their towns to see what they have been up to.  Animal Crossing: New Leaf doesn’t stray too far from the previous titles, but maybe that is a good thing.  After all, that’s why those games were so fun to begin with.  The fact that nothing has been taken away, but many things have been added, make it feel as though you are playing an extended version of the game you love.  This time around, the happiness you see in your citizens as you make your own changes to the landscape is enough to keep you happy and wanting to play the game every single day.

Interactivity in Skyrim

Sometimes the real world is a little lacking with interactivity between human and the world surrounding the individual.  There are so many times when we enter a building, only to really be allowed to walk in one direction to a certain spot.  However, this rule of interactivity, or rather no interactivity, does not apply to the video game world.  This is especially true with role playing games like Skyrim.  Skyrim gives the player complete access to the world, and this opens a lot of doors to the person holding the controller.

It seems as though Skyrim’s world map was created for purely for the use of the ability of the player to interact with his or her surroundings.  When traveling across the map, say from Riften to Solitude, one is going to pass through many things.  These include, but are by no way limited to, other major towns such as Whiterun, crazy networks of tunnels and caves like Labrinthian, and many other little details in between.  The player is meant to stop, maybe not at every single landmark found, but at least a couple times on the way to the destination.  There one can find monsters, people, and treasure left behind.  This is something that clearly is not going to happen in the real world.  If one was to travel on foot from Amherst, New York to the city of Buffalo, not nearly as much excitement would happen.  Sure, the person would pass through Kenmore, but there would be no treasure and it is likely that not a single person will stop to talk on the way.  The land of Skyrim was made to be a place that can be explored and the player will be rewarded for taking the time to pay attention to every single place found.

On top of the specific locations of the map, the entire ground and sky can be interacted with.  There are constant ingredients that can be picked up along the way in the form of herbs, plants, and fungi.  Along with that, butterflies can be caught, birds can be shot out of the sky, and deer can be easily hunted down for other potion ingredients along the way.  This is simply not possible in reality.  Even if one was able to use everything found to cook with or have use of, there still would not be much.  I cannot say that I have ever randomly came across even one fruit, vegetable, or any sort of plant that bare some sort of object on it that can be picked, simply by casually walking around.  There is simply not nearly as much detail that I could interact with in my own personal life.  Even if I was to walk in a forest, I would find mostly grass, trees, or bushes that do not even have any flowers or anything worth picking.  This does not even include the fact that I simply would not be able to fit thousands of herbs in my pockets without them filling like one can easily do in Skyrim.  The land that the game takes place on is meant to be paid attention to.  It is meant to be looked at, analyzed, and interacted with, unlike each individual thing found taking a stroll on planet Earth.

Even when going into a town, there is still more to interact with in the game world.  This is because there are much less social rules going on in the land of Skyrim.  When walking the streets of the real world, it is simply not socially acceptable to stop and talk to every stranger one sees, and if anyone was to try this, they would be seen as bothersome and would anger people very quickly.  In Skyrim, the player can stop and talk to every single person and almost every single one will stop what they are doing to have a conversation.  Some may have pointless small talk, others will tell gossip about neighbors, while others will give tasks to do that the player knows will be followed by some reward that can be very valuable depending on the difficulty of completion.  The game promotes attention to detail of people through a system of rewards.  Some of the most interesting and exciting items can be found by completing quests given by random NPCs on the street, so the player is encouraged to speak to everyone.  This type of behavior is considered crazy by real world standards.

Once out of the street and into any form of building structure, the same rule of interactivity still applies.  Every item sitting on the floor, hanging from the wall, sitting on a table, or inside a chest or cabinet can be interacted with in some way even if only in the matter of taking it and putting it into your own personal inventory.  This makes it worthwhile to take a look inside the houses around you.  You never know who may have some iron ore that you can use to smelt into a sword or possibly some potions to take that will heal you in battle.  The player can just walk in and the world is still theirs to interact with.  Many of the NPCs that own the house will not even object to you walking in their house as long as you did not pick the lock to get there.  This is something that obviously cannot be done in reality.  A person cannot just walk into a random house and expect nothing bad to happen.  We walk by or drive by a new neighborhood and all the houses lined up on the side of the road are not there for us to interact with and explore.  To the stranger, they are only there for scenery, and that is all they will ever be.

It seems to be that one of the points of Skyrim is to allow the player to roam free in an entirely different world.  There are very few places that are completely off limits and the player is allowed to interact with as little or as much of the world as he wants to.  They key, however, is that the player has the option.  Our own real world is full of limits.  We can only interact with what belongs to us or what others allow us to.  Everything else is for the eyes only.  Skyrim lets us explore the curiosity in us that reality does not.  This seems to be a major point of the game.  The player is allowed to learn and grow in a world that is limitless, and because of this, knowledge of that world also becomes limitless.