I love to play games: card games, board games, sports games, any games. But, I have never played video games, ever! Over twenty-five years ago I was an undergraduate in an instructional media course. Although the paper is not in my possession anymore, I am most certain the assignment was something like: How can we use Oregon Trail to create a sound and robust learning experience for students? Substitute the game Minecraftedu, and voila, we have this week’s #edgamify MOOC task.
In an attempt to fit gamification into my schema, my brain started an informal comparison of the two games, old and new. As with the Oregon Trail (MECC, 1988), “simulation application”, Minecraftedu (a sandbox game) has no advertisements, an unusual trait in today’s gaming world. Unlike Oregon Trail (OT), it is not possible to look on or in the Minecraftedu (MCedu) game box to find the instructions for game play. Actually, OT had a fair amount of rules, whereas MCedu basically has no rules. Neither of them have a “leaderboard”. OT, at that time, was a stand-alone game stored on a 5 ¼ inch floppy disk (maybe two disks?). Maybe a couple of kids in the same classroom could work together to survive (the details have faded from my memory). MCedu requires bandwidth which enables it to be played simultaneously with multiple players anywhere in the world. They both are problem solving games. They both challenge players to stay alive by overcoming obstacles to survival. Inevitably, in both games, failure results in death with do-overs to try again for improved performance. The goal in OT is to reach Oregon alive, because MCedu is an open-ended game, the goal varies with each scenario, but the object is to stay alive. Feedback in both games allows students immediate self-assessment by keeping track of an inventory of supplies and ….. I cannot remember what all else. This is about as deep as my mind delved into the compare/contrast of the old game and the new. Although, I do believe, because of informational technology of this day and age and because of social media, MCedu is experiencing a high degree of popularity that OT did not. OT was more or less just educational software, whereas MCedu is not by any means restricted just to the classroom. Actually, the use and play of MCedu has almost no restrictions for distribution around the world. Oh, I just realized, I think they both use the same antiquated text font!
Had a lot of fun composing this, but realized early on it had nothing to do with the assigned task, so tucked it away for another time. Thanks to my colleague Tiffany for inspiring me to actually post this stroll down memory lane.