Another dot in the blogosphere?

Walking dead? Talking dead!

Posted on: August 21, 2016

No, I am not referring to the hit TV series, The Walking Dead, or its companion talk show, Talking Dead. (Incidentally, I wrote about what teachers and instructional designers might learn from Talking Dead.)

I am referring to the dispassionate judgement by non-players of players of Pokémon Go. One of the latest in a series was an Italian Bishop who called players the “walking dead”. According to Bishop Stagliano, Pokémon Go was also “a totalitarian system close to Nazism” [source].

According to CNET, Niantic Labs, the company behind Pokémon Go, did not respond to a request for comment. Nor should they. If they did, they would be responding to the talking dead.

You cannot judge game play simply by observing players. This is like judging the contents of a novel and the quality of the storytelling by its cover. Such judgement is borne from an outside position of suspicion and fear.

The alternative is to experience and understand. This starts with questions like: Why is the learner so immersed? What are they thinking? How are they reacting? How and what do they learn? What have I learnt?

One of the main reasons I conduct game-based learning workshops for various types of educators is to let them experience what gaming is like. If their only takeaway is a deeper appreciation for why their students like to play games so much, that is time well spent. They will not see Pokémon Go players as the walking dead. They will also not make comments as if they are the talking dead.

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