Over the course of our recent holiday, my sons spent a large amount of time playing PSP games. This is not unusual in itself. What is unusual is that I was in earshot much of the time and got to experience their frustrations by proxy.
I have recently been thinking about the use of games and simulations in learning - trying to figure out what place they might hold, etc. - so I was alert to their observations. I'm still not sure how to reconcile learner-driven just-in-time learning with the serendipitous, learning-by-immerson world of simulations, but regardless of how these things fit together, it has become abundantly clear to me that simulations must observe some rules:
- If the player is leading a race by 10 seconds, and the second-placed, system-controlled competitor is not catching up according to the images on screen, then the player must win. He cannot be pipped at the post by a competitor that was clearly eating his dust.
- When the player is in second place, the leading car must not straddle the centre line when cornering - it must take the inside lane as would be the case in real life.
- If getting back onto your motorbike after a spill takes 2 seconds when you are in third place, it must not take 5 seconds when you are in first.
- Clipping your wing mirror must not cause your car to roll 5 times and end up on its roof off the track. Especially not if it only does this if you are in the lead.
1. They must be more or less realistic within their own set of paradigms (perhaps believable would be a better word)
2. They must be consistent
3. They must not cheat!
I would have given up faced with the frustrations they experienced, and elder son's temper was tried to extremes at times, but he is a stubborn and determined child, and he persevered.
Meanwhile, I muttered into my pen-and-paper sudoku...