From: Jess Thyne
Submit: Post Field Note
Date: 04 Dec 1996
Remote Name: octal-lab-mac16.ucsc.edu
Ivan: 3rd grade Ayal: student at UCSC
When I got to BU today, there were no kids around, so I decided to play Carmen Sandiego, a game I have not yet played, and have only seen played once, and then it was briefly. After I had gotten into the game a little, Ivan came in and wanted to see what I was playing. I had previously posed the question about how the role of modeling in teaching both game skills, and motivation. I decided to continue playing my game while Ivan watched. I talked out loud about my diecsions of where to go, and what the criminal must look like, and after a while, Ivan began to ask some questions about what I was doing, and I gave him some brief overviews of what the game was about, and how to play it as I saw it.
After my detective case was finished (I nabbed the wrong criminal), I asked Ivan if he wanted to play. He seemed excited, so I moved over and let him take control. He had a lot of questions about what to do in the beginning because he did not watch the beginning of my game. I sugessted where he should click, and explained to him some strategies that I had figured out for figuring out who to talk to and how to figure out what the criminal looked like, and where the criminal had traveled to.
As this was going on, Ayal came over with an interest in what we were doing. He started watching Ivan and I play, and then he began to give suggestions of his own. He sort of took over the role of guider for a while, so I went and played with another kid, but I saw that Ivan was really engaged with the game for the whole time, and did not want to leave at 5:00 until he had finished his case (his third case by this time).
I later (on 12/2/96) watched Ivan come at the beginning of class and right away request a CDrom maching to play Carmen on. He unfortunately did not gain access to one, but the motivation to play was cleary there!
I really wanted to see if I could motivate a kid to play and understand a difficult game through modeling, and I feel that I succedced. The Carmen games are not at all popular at BU, and I feel that this is only because there is nobody there who can show the kids how to play. Ivan would have never been able to play the game alone, and if he had started by himself, he would probably have quickly turned it off in frustration.
How can we better help these kids to learn the more difficult games? It seems to me that the only games we have had success teaching are the games that are very easy and do not take much more guiding from the students than some encouragement that the games are within the kid's skill level. The "harder" games are better made, more interesting, and I think more fun. Is there a good and also informal way of teaching these games?