Games4Ed twitter chat reflection from 3/30/17

*I will participating in and writing reflections about Twitter chats with the games4ed hashtag this semester. Here is one of those reflections.


Late week I participated in my first ever Twitter chat. In these chats participants use a common hashtag to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences about prompts shared by the chat moderator. In the chat I participated we used #games4ed and has a theme of gamify your classroom, moderated by Melissa Pilakowski (@mpilakow) and hosted by  Dr. Matt Farber (@MatthewFarber)

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I enjoyed the format of the twitter chat. The host shared questions one at a time and participants replied back. Initially the answers to questions came very fast and it was overwhelming to process all the information and ideas that was shared. By the time I had composed my answers and responded to some of the other participants, the next question what up and that is also when the side conversations started up. I would respond to something interesting  another participant shared or someone would comment on my ideas and we would lunch on a tangent. Needless to say I was quickly out of step with the main body of the Twitter chat. Playing catch up I stopped focusing on the questions themselves and looked to the responses and my ongoing side conversations to stay engaged but not feel overwhelmed.

The first question from the chat caught me off balance, it asked:

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I had not thought of games as being ways to “leave” the classroom my focus had been on engagement and how games could be used to increase motivation. But I did remember one game that I play in class that does transport students to a different vertula place and gets their bodies moving.  

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In the end I found that the side conversation that were sparked by this Twitter chat had the most profound impact on me. Through my discussions of GoNoodle I was able to connect with GoNoodle and have been receiving update about new games and activities on their platform. I also started chatting with a kindred educator spirit who is developing a fantasy football math curriculum for the fall. I think this was a very successful chat and I look forward to participating in another, this time with knowledge of the ways for to participate that best fit my learning style.

Games4Ed twitter chat reflection from 3/30/17

A Street Fight Against Intolerance – An Article Critique

*In my pursuit of further education I am enrolled in a course on games and learning. Part of the expectations for this course is to take ownership of my learning and explore the connections between games and learning for myself, this blog post is a continuation of the documentation of my learning.


I have been been trying to find balance in my roles as a teacher and a learner during my self exploration of Games and Learning. My teacher side wants to identify best practices that I can use with my students. I feel that I have let this piece of my identity drive most of my exploration of games and learning texts and because through this exploration I have found some interesting insights to guide my teaching practice going forward.  As a learner I want to take a step away from my teaching practice and look at how games are being played in areas outside of elementary education. This week I was committed to take off the teacher hat and let the another aspect of my life guide me when finding a game article to critique.

One aspect of my life that has recently become a larger factor is political activism. American values, as I see them, are under attack in an effort to shift away from acceptance or empathy in society. More than ever before I find myself sharing my views and trying to raise awareness in both physical and digital spaces. This week I decided to look at both my activism and games, inspired in part from a tweet from my professor sharing games to play at political rallies and marches.

I found a Huffington Post article, by author James Michael Nichols, showcasing a new video game released, by an independent developer Aquma. This game blew my mind. Released as a response to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and International Organization for the Family’s (IOF) “Free Speech” Bus. In a nutshell the “Free Speech” Bus uses the sides of a bus to share messages of binary gender assignments at birth. The new game, Intolerance Fighter II Tour Bus, gives the player a chance to respond to the intolerance of this moving billboard by simulating the destruction of this object hate – it lets you beat the snot out of the intolerance mobile, Street Fighter style!


Intolerance fighter is a remix of the car crunching mini game from Street Fighter II with the “Free Speech” Bus replacing the original car. I loved the car crunching mini game because it gave players an opportunity to practice button combinations to create specialized attacks that could be used against game opponents. The remix gives users the chance to vent frustrations about intolerance in a simulated environment, without the repercussions of physical property damage.

The bus in the physical world takes the constitutionally protected freedom of speech to attack the realities of Americans that don’t fit into the concepts of binary gender assignment, held by ignorant or intolerant groups like NOM or IOF. Giving those people the chance to vent frustrations in a simulation is awesome. The digital destruction of the bus protects users from legal repercussions and gives the opportunity to focus on the intolerance being spread by the bus and not shifting focus on the damage done by vandalism.  

The question could be asked if this type of video game activism vandalism will lead to increased vandalism in the physical world. Now it is true that the “Free Speech” Bus had been met with protests and vandalism in its stops across the country. The New York Times recently ran a piece that pointed out that violent media, like video games, are one factor in many that lead to physical world violence, but not the major factor. The Huffington Post article gives the game creator a platform to remind readers that this game, like other games and novels, is a work of fiction and that the violence prorated is merely a metaphor for releasing the anger that stems from intolerance towards specific cultures, communities and humans in general.

A Street Fight Against Intolerance – An Article Critique

Pew Pew Pew Research Center Study – A Scholarly Critique

*In my pursuit of further education I am enrolled in a course on games and learning. Part of the expectations for this course is to take ownership of my learning and explore the connections between games and learning for myself, this blog post is a continuation of the documentation of my learning.


This week I found a large study from the Pew Research Center called Teens, Technology and Friendships: Video games, social media and mobile phones play an integral role in how teens meet and interact with friends. I was interested in this study because it provides an interesting statistical snapshot of how teens are using digital communication to make and maintain friendships. The digital communication was facilitated through text messaging, social media, and multiplayer online games.  I feel that the presence of more friendships that exist through digital means could provide some interesting opportunities to apply theories about in-room communication and learning that were proposed in Stevens, Satwicz, and McCarthy’s article In-Game, In-Room, In-World: Reconnecting Video Game Play to the Rest of Kids’ Lives.

The statistics shared in the Pew article were surprising to me. I felt that teens were going to be active using digital communication but I assumed that it would be to stay in touch with the people they had met in the physical world. Similar to how I use my digital communication. I did not expect for teens to be making and developing friendships completely in the digital world. I learned that, 57% of the teens from the study had made at least one friend online and of the friends that had been made digitally, one in five pairs eventually meet in person. Video games played over the internet hold an important place in the communication between teen friends in digital spaces, with 46% of teens playing online games with friends at least once a week, with 67% of male teens playing online games at least once a week.

The communication between teen friends online could benefit them in ways that Stevens, Satwicz, and McCarthy showed in-room communication helped young people learn when playing games together. Digital communication through online games enables players support one another in learning and mastering a in-game skills by enabling users to be mentors for new players, be a just-in-time expert recourse, or problem solve cooperatively through coordinated talk.

Knowing that a large number of teens are already using online games as ways to make and maintain friendships I would be interested in taking a theme camp experience and building up its online presence, as a way to get kids socially involved outside of the physical camp. I am particularly thinking of the Young American’s Bank program Young Ameritowne, which gives elementary students the chance to participate in a simulated economy. Participants apply for jobs, trade labor for paychecks, set-up/manage bank accounts, and get to be consumers.

I think that bringing some of their offerings into the digital world, Young American’s Bank, could make a bigger impact on participants than they currently do. Digital jobs could mirror computer skills needed for each of the professions offered in the simulated economy and give the children a more rounded idea of what is required for each job before applying and interviewing. Online communication should be encouraged for participants to discuss experiences and problem solving strategies. Finally participants could open their Ameritowne bank accounts online, and benefit form an online banking simulation. 

Pew Pew Pew Research Center Study – A Scholarly Critique

The Family the Feuds Together . . . Play Journal Entry

*This is a continuation of a series of blog posts for my Games and Learning course. In this journaling exercise I am going to play social games and analyze the game mechanics, design, and play experience, to identify how the game can be applied to learning in formal or informal setting

This weekend I was at a small gathering of friends, when we decided we needed a shake up our entertainment and used an appleTV device to cast a mobile app game to the television. We often gather on Friday nights and have identified a collection of mobile apps for classic game shows, such as Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right. We cooperatively play, with the whole group calling out answers and playing as one team. This week we channeled our inner Richard Dawson to play the crowd favorite Family Feud.


This is a newer version of Family Feud then we are use to playing so there was a lot for this group to master in the game. One of the new features is a tournament mode. In this mode eight players are trying to find answers to the same question. In Family Feud 100 people are surveyed and their answers are hidden on the game-board. The players try to guess all the responses and are awarded points based off of how popular the answer was. In the tournament the two players with the lowest score after each round do not move on to the next round.  So the first round has eight players, the next has six, then four, and for the final round only two players are left. This is a departure from the classic game play where only two players compete at a time, over four rounds.

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The knockout nature of the tournament forced us to adjust our game play. In the past our goal was to guess all the answer on the game-board, with the less popular responses seen as unique and therefore the most prized responses to guess. In the knockout games earning the large point responses first, the popular choices, was key because we discovered that ties went to the team who scored fastest.  This made the group slow answers down and focus on what the popular answers could be not just quickly calling out answers and reaching for the obscure responses.

family feud game playTo play in the knockout tournaments players have to collect coins that can be slowly earned in the standard mode or can be obtained quickly in though in-app purchases. There is also a large reward for winning a tournament and second place prize that is enough to pay for another entry to the tournament. In the previous version of this game coins could be collected by watching advertisements. This is a feature we used a lot, it would have been nice if it had been included in the new version. Companies may have not seen that as effective advertising but could have tried trading in-game currency for responses to marketing surveys, there by collecting valuable information and users the opportunity to collect more coins.  

family feud championI believe that the knockout tournament featured was included in this new version of Family Feud because players of the old version were “gaming the system”, defined by Deterding as a situation when players “find a way to exploit any rule loophole” (2014, p.310). We knew how to game the old version’s advertising model to get more in-game currency and how to guess low probability answers early when there is more leeway in time and chances then give high probability answer when the round is almost over.  Removing the payments for watching advertisements and including a time dependent knockout tournament effectively stopped our what we thought were sneaky game play strategies, forcing us to discover new ways to game the Family Feud app.

The Family the Feuds Together . . . Play Journal Entry

Why do haters gotta hate? – Membership in an Fantasy Football Affinity Space

*To learn more about participation in a interest based community, also known as a6171514511.pngn affinity space, for my Games and Learning masters class, I have joined the FFToday discussion community and am blogging about the experience.  

On of my goals for joining the FFToday affinity space was to play around with the idea for using fantasy football as a learning activity in my small group math interventions. I don’t know where this ideas is going to go and I am changing jobs next year, so I am not certain I will even have an opportunity to employ it, but I have been thinking about fantasy football in math for a while. I might as well dive right into the affinity space and start seeing what the members thought. I started a discussion thread called: Fantasy Football used for teaching math in school. I made the assumption that the members of a fantasy football affinity space would see this a great idea and share testimonials about how they use math in game/in world, or about how motivating the game has been to look and and analyze data to be more successful. My opening post was an attempt to elicit those stories.


I also wondered if there was an inherent problem with fantasy football in a math class.  I have seen, in the readings from and interactions with classmates in my Games and Learning class, that gamification is not always the answer to motivating students. Would competition and point totals make the game an electronic whip? Would students to feel forced to “play” and see their scores as negative commentary for their performance? So I decided to request reasons not to use fantasy football from the community. I thought that reasons not to play would be thoughtful and come from a place of understanding – because these are not only players of fantasy football but such die hard fanatics they are interacting in an affinity space in the off-season. What I did not expect was what I got, a troll.

It didn’t happen right away, at first weepaws was just a poster that seem concerned about fantasy football being gambling but his post quickly became an attack on “lazy” teachers.

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I was not in a mental place to handle this internet attack on either my profession or myself. I have been feeling constant pressure political related interactions on social media that have ranged from discussions to arguments to attacks. I know that I am not alone in this feeling but there was no way I was going to handle the situation with weepaws well, this was a fantasy football discussion forum that people go to for fun, that I had joined for a class. I envisioned myself striking back at weepaws and letting the poster know what is lazy teaching really is – probably starting a feud with a long time community member, or blowing a gasket and then have to walk away from this affinity space. So I did the only thing that I could think of to that did not end in banishment from the group; I ignored him. I responded to most of the other posts, I got some great feedback, and I thanked other members who stuck up of me in shooting down weepaws repeated claims of gambling or lazy teaching. But I did not interact with weepaws.

I was ready to use this blog post as a way to go after weepaws, to vent, because I was furious. Then he made a post that struck a cord.

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I had asked for opinions on both sides of the fantasy in math controversy. Weapaws shared his opinions and I needed to address this, I gave a lengthy response, but the gist was that I wanted positive testimonials to share to support the project, to think about negative responses to decide if I was going to do develop the fantasy football project at all, and that repeated attacks of lazy teachers was not convincing me of that it was bad idea. I concluded that the attacks gave me more motivation me to show my students I care about their engagement, so they don’t hate teachers when they grow up. I thought that conclusion would push weepaws over the edge and that my math discussion thread would devolve into attacks and insults. And again I assumed wrong.

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I think I learned that viewing weepaws as a troll stopped me from validating the poster’s opinion. Posters in a affinity space are looking for validation. I am not going to see eye to eye with weepaws, but we have shared a civil exchange. I am interested to see if and how weepaws continues to post on the thread.





Why do haters gotta hate? – Membership in an Fantasy Football Affinity Space

First Reflection on Learning for Games and Learning ILT5320

Reflection is an important element of learning. It is a chance to look back at activities and thinking and fit them in with a big picture of what is being learned. For my learning and games class I will be reflecting on my learning every few weeks in a series of blog posts, this being the first of the series. For these reflections I have a bank of questions to guide my thinking.

How did your participation in course activities this month contribute to your understanding of games (generally) and the relationship between games and learning?

One activity that has put me out of my comfort zone but has helped me understand some theories from our readings in practice was playing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game or MMORPG.  The game I chose, Champions Online, is a style of game I have not ever played seriously. I ran into many obstacles that I did not know how to overcome. In the past when I learned new video game my problem solving methods have been to use trial and error followed by reviewing the manuals or tutorials, and finally searching the internet for a walk-through. Playing this new style of game, however, inspired me to try a new approach to problem solving by turning to the Champions Online online community, also referred to as an affinity space. Gee and Hayes wrote, in the article Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game Based Learning, that members of an affinity space “rely on personal contact, through forums and messaging, to pass on their own craft knowledge and tricks of the trade” (2012, p.19). In the online forums I was able to find the information I needed when I was stuck in the game and was given unsolicited advice to not only pass obstacles but ways to do so the earned greater rewards. This was my first look into what can be learned from interactions in a interest based community and how that information can be more useful and expansive than what is in a game manual.

What preconceptions about games, play, and learning have you changed because of your course activities so far?

I truly believed that this course would be about teaching content through games. Looking at what is available and analyzing games effectiveness, then possibly finding or creating our own games to use in practice.  I have had this idea turned on it’s head. Even in this first segment of class I have seen that it is much more important to think about how game are designed to be engaging and find meaningful learning moment in the interactions, cooperative and competitive, that arise because users are motivated to master game play.  

How have you relied upon networks – with peers, via social media – to advance your learning in our course?

I have leaned on twitter as a way to stay informed with content my classmates have produced and to share when my blogs are posted. Twitter also give a nice opportunity to share short public comments to classmates that I hope are lighthearted and encouraging of their thinking and sharing. Finally I like using twitter to attempt to communicate with the authors of the articles and publications that I am looking at and open my content to a larger audience pool.

Ask yourself a question about games, play, and learning – and provide a meaningful answer.

I has a revelation during this semester about fantasy football as a game with potential to support math instruction. A few years back I purposed an after school fantasy sports program to support math practice, it was approved but I moved on to a new school before the program launched. After I have thought about how fantasy sports could be a good motivator for students who have low intrinsic motivation for math. This class is giving me the opportunity to find if others have looked into a connection between math instruction and if so to see how programs have be designed. My initial research has been promising I found a fantasy football lesson plan on the New York Time education blog and a teaching with fantasy sports website. The website has resources and video about fantasy sports math programs. One video, of a California school, was particularly interesting because of the firsthand testimonials from the motivated students.

What are your ongoing curiosities about games and learning, and how might you pursue these interests?
I read an awesome study about how playing video games helps increase affection and prosocial interactions in siblings for in cycle two, and in cycle three a popular press article that provides a brief real world example of how interactions around video games can help students develop empathy. These articles have started me on a path to find more about a connections between prosocial interactions and playing video games. I have found a chapter Pew Research Center study called, Video Games Are Key Elements in Friendships for Many Boys, which seems to have potential to discuss the connections between playing video games and developing social skills.

First Reflection on Learning for Games and Learning ILT5320

Are You Ready for Some Fantasy Football Affinity Space!?!

football header.pngI have been a participant in fantasy football for 12 years and throughout that time the game has meant many different things to me. I love to watch football and have been a lifelong Broncos fanatic so in some ways fantasy football was a logical extension of my passions. Fantasy football, however, is more than just an extension of loving football, it is a community experience that is shared with the other members of a league. I have played in leagues that are social and made new friends, such as a league that I joined in at a new school I taught at. I have also been involved with a league of friends that use our shared love of football and the competition of fantasy to stay close even if we are far away, which I was for two years while teaching in Ecuador.  For me playing fantasy football is a four month extension of social media in which all discussion revolves around the athletes and the game of football. My friends and league members, new and old, became my fantasy affinity space.

But there are more people in the fantasy football niche culture and joining them in an
online affinity space seems to be my next step to being a member of the participatory culture that is evolving around fantasy football. It is the off-season for fantasy football but that does not mean that the players of the game are resting. This is the time that league champions are starting to do their homework about off-season moves for the biggest names in the NFL and the newcomers, who will have high value on teams come September, because these players will be overlooked by novices but score big points for team managers who are willing to take a chance. An affinity space for  fantasy football is a great place to tap into members’ knowledge and strategies.parkscallions-champion

I looked at a few fantasy football affinity spaces before choosing to join FF Today’s Fantasy Football Community. What I liked about FF Today was that not only did membership connect the user with discussion forums and tailored news from FF Today staff, but even early in the off season there was active contributions from the community about player contract news, injuries, drafting/keeping strategies, and and most exciting individuals sharing news items from local papers that were not being picked up by national sports media.

I have started my contributions as a newcomer to the group, looking for guidance with my fantasy roster. The way my long time friend’s league works is that we can keep three players each season and so I have reached out the the FF Today community for a fresh perspective on which players form my roster are gems and which are busts. The replies have been few but thought provoking, and similar to the responses that others have received to similar posts about their teams. I hope that as the NFL off-season moves into free agency there will be more interest from community members  to discuss and analyze keeper rosters as they get ready for the season.

Are You Ready for Some Fantasy Football Affinity Space!?!