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Posts Tagged ‘pogo

I still play Pokémon Go.

Perhaps play is the wrong word. I persist with it when others have stopped because it represents how I like to learn.

While some teachers talk about ways to enhance teaching with PoGo, I consider how it enables powerful learning. I have shared some perspectives before. Today I suggest more learning opportunities.

The new PoGo raid battles remind me about learning just-in-time (JIT) instead of learning just-in-case (JIC).

The recently implemented raids present boss Pokémon at gyms. This typically requires people to work in groups to defeat each boss, i.e., many small monsters need to simultaneously attack a Gozilla-sized one to reap rewards.

Normal gameplay, like catching Pokémon, spinning stops, and occupying team gyms, is 24×7. However, raids have limited play each day. Players have to refer to a raid alert in the game app which lets them know when raids will happen, where they will take place, and what level boss monster (one star to four star) they will face. Only when a raid battle starts do players know for sure exactly which boss monster they face.

Players in Singapore might also rely on a web app that provides raid alerts like an islandwide radar. A player can target higher level raids with others in the hope of getting better rewards.

What does this have to do with JIT over JIC learning?

The PoGo raid system is like learning JIT because you have to wait for a signal (raid alerts) before responding by seeking more information (the where and when of raids). There is not much you can do by way of textbook-style preparation because the exact opponent is not revealed until the battle starts.

Connected players consult one another in Facebook and Telegram groups. Groups of uncles and aunties exchange strategies socially while waiting for battle or in the aftermath of one (the how of raids).

There are very few instructions and tips provided by Niantic, the company behind PoGo. Most of the strategies emerge from the collective efforts of experimentation, sharing in community, data mining, etc.

Players consult gurus like Nick of Trainer Tips on YouTube for which Pokémon to have and prepare as standard battlers. Players might benefit from the research and recommendations of math nerds who have calculated battlers with the best DPS (damage per second).

PoGo raids are like life: They can be anticipated, but they are fluid. We develop JIT learning naturally in life because of emerging issues or opportunities. PoGo raids encourage JIT learning because they mirror life.

The beauty of PoGo is that while players think they learn content like Pokémon names and battle strategies, they actually learn how to think quickly, critically, and socially. This is an insidious but desirable game-based learning outcome and something that gamification does not easily address.

Although I am no longer an academic, I see research opportunities everywhere. One set of untapped research is in Pokémon Go (PoGo).

I am not talking about the already done-to-death exercise studies or about the motivations to play and keep playing.

I am thinking about how sociologists might add to PoGo’s trend analysis. Number crunchers have already collected data on its meteoric rise and now its declining use. While these provide useful information to various stakeholders, I wonder if anyone has considered the impact of PoGo uncles and aunties.

I am not the first to observe how much older players have started playing PoGo. I tweeted this a while ago and someone just started a thread in the PoGoSG Facebook group about uncles and aunties at play.

A quick search on Twitter with keywords like “pokemon go” and “auntie” or “uncle” might surprise you.

The PoGo aunties and uncles are quite obvious here. So far I have noticed three main types: Solo aunties, uncles in pairs or small groups, and auntie-uncle couples. There are more types, of course, but these three are common enough to blip frequently on social radar.

But I would not be content with just describing the phenomenon. I would ask if they contribute to the “death” of PoGo just like how the older set adopted Facebook and how teens then migrated to Snapchat.

We should not underestimate the impact of uncles and aunties. After all, there must be a reason for this saying: Old age and treachery will always overcome youthfulness and skill.

My reflection today is about the value of game-based learning over gamification. I use a personal accomplishment in Pokémon Go to illustrate both.

A few days ago, I joined Pokémon Go’s “Club 141” by registering 141 Pokémon in my Pokédex.

PoGo Club 141.

This is not an official club. It is an informal achievement that players here use to denote how they have collected all readily accessible Generation 1 Pokémon.

There are 151 Pokémon in Generation 1. Four are regional exclusives and you have to be in Australia, Europe, the USA, or in “Asia” (specifically Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan) to collect these. The other six have not been released by gaming company Niantic. So if you want to “catch ’em all” in Singapore, you are limited to 141 Pokémon.

I am not the first to join Club 141. Many in the Singapore PoGo Facebook group share this accomplishment when they hit this mark.

I managed to do this three months after the game’s release here by consistent and strategic work. I figured out what the most efficient and effective strategies were for me.

  • I focused on completing my collection and keeping the best instead of  battling or hoarding.
  • I optimised my resources for collecting by favouring Poké balls over potions.
  • I collected what I could where I could to transform lower forms to higher forms instead of hoping for the latter to appear in the wild.
  • I used crowdsourced information [example] of where possible spawning nests of a particular type was to catch many of one type I lacked.
  • When SGPokéMap was up, I used it to track and collect Pokémon I did not have.

The game also tells me that I am currently as Level 27 and I have walked 445km while playing.

PoGo level 27.

Most gamers who take PoGo seriously will agree that the game gets difficult after Level 20 because you need disproportionately more experience points (XP) to level up.

PoGo jogger.

The distance I covered is an underestimate as PoGo is not precise in measuring location or distance covered. It tends to favour motion in straight lines and life does not afford that. All that said, basic math tells me that I walked an average of 5km a day over 90 days.

Trying to join Club 141, levelling up, and getting a badge for how far I have walked are principles of gamification. While these are drawn from games, they rely largely on extrinsic factors to keep people playing (or studying in the case of schooling): Complete quests for rewards, get promoted, collect tokens.

These are not wrong, but they can only take a gamer or learner so far. The game company, learning designer, LMS manager, or teacher has to keep offering rewards if the motivation is purely intrinsic. Pokémon Go has already faced a drop off in gamers when interest waned or when gamers filled up their Pokédex.

What does game-based learning (GBL) offer over gamification?

Beyond external rewards, good GBL makes the motivation intrinsic. I will keep playing the game because I set my own goals and not because the game bribes or goads me.

For example, newly implemented daily rewards system is a bonus, but I have challenged myself to get better versions (higher individual values or IVs) of the Pokémon I already have. I also plan on hatching unhatched eggs I have collected and battling in gyms to collect free coins which I will exchange for egg incubators. This is like a learner who strives for mastery or seeks self-directed goals in game-based learning.

Mastery and self-directed learning are not unique to GBL, but they are more enjoyable within a gaming context. Enjoyable does not mean easy; it means difficult fun.

I can make links between gaming and pedagogy because I play games and I am an educator. This is why I encourage teachers and educators who wish to harness the power of off-the-shelf or mobile games NOT designed for the classroom to play games and then reflect deeply to make their own connections.


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