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Posts Tagged ‘clive thompson

When I drafted this blog entry about two weeks ago, I had read (or reread):

What jumped out of the digital pages at me was Thompson’s declaration that

The most brilliant entities on the planet… are neither high-end machines nor high-end humans. They’re average-brained people who are really good at blending their smarts with machine smarts.

We shape tools and the tools are increasingly shaping us, e.g., consider how mobile devices are changing our behaviours. As lonely as being on a computer might seem, we are part of a collective as we move in and out of hive minds, e.g., the blogosphere, the Twittersphere, the Facebook realm.

We are cyborgs in that sense. Not the scary type that movies portray, but the more insidious sort that co-evolves with technology.

Clive Thompson began his article on gaming by noting how one game designer pleaded with his audience not to rely on walkthroughs. Walkthroughs are detailed guides on how to overcome the problems that a game puts in the way of a player’s progress.

As I read that, I immediately thought about two things. The first was how I had relied on one such guide when I was playing a game several months ago. The second thing was what  Thompson wrote about next. The game designer bemoaned the fact that gamers might be missing out on the challenges of the game. However, he was missing the gamers’ perspective and the larger picture.

What is the gamers perspective? Most gamers want to play the game and will try but fail over and over again. Some call this productive failure because it eventually leads to solutions. But players often just get stuck and the failure is frustrating instead of productive. They then turn to help wherever they can find it. These days the help is in places like game forums and YouTube. My game guru was a boy whose voice had not even broken yet! But he created and shared a YouTube video that helped me solve my problem.

What is the bigger picture? Gamers are working together to solve problems. They often do so for free (a few charge for “cheat” books) and they do so to help others. In this gaming support world, reputation outweighs riches.

Like Thompson, I’d point out that some gaming problems are often too complex for just one person to solve. But put several players together and they will figure things out. It is collaborative learning at its best!

To teachers and parents who don’t see it that way, I’ll point out that the learners want to do the task, they will strategise and think of alternatives when they fail, and they won’t give up. They will seek out solutions by consulting others. They will openly and willingly share what they know. As a result, initial solutions are negotiated and fine-tuned and only the best ones float to the top. It’s an educational solution that is screaming at the top of its voice, but teachers cannot look past their curricula, their report cards or their PowerPoint slides.

Why aren’t teachers taking advantage of games or a game-based approach? Most are not gamers and they know no better. Many are told by self-serving media giants that games are addictive, violent or antisocial. I hope that my teacher trainees see otherwise as they experience serious gaming over the next few weeks.

Clive Thompson wrote about the future of reading in a Wired article. I agree fully with him that book publishers need to wake up, listen, adopt, adapt and offer something relevant to readers.


  • Book publishers are already getting left behind. They should look at what is currenty happening with the newspaper and magazine industries.
  • The future of reading is tightly linked to the future of learning. It is far more participative and collaborative!


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