Game Genres

Alternative realty game is a story that allows users to participate and interact with things in the real environment.  I reviewed the game Escape from Eden Park.  Bits of the story are given through a series of Youtube videos on the creator’s website. Viewers learn that the objective is to find out what happened to Ben, the brother of Riley, who is the main character of the story.  Although it is a fictional story, viewers can interact with the character through Twitter and attend Q&A sessions using a web conferencing program.  Viewers can download sound files (evidence) to further analyze for clues.  Some stories even take advantage of collaboration and players who are in different geographic regions to acquire information. The participation to solve problems allows for experiential learning but slightly different from the traditional supplemental activities teachers might use to get students more involved with the learning.  Examples of these might be watching or reenacting a performance of classic literature or finding varying interpretations of a story’s meaning.  In ARG, the game is designed so that players participate in pursuing the same end goal as the story’s characters.

Simulation games recreate and imitates something that occurs in real life. These include building and managing projects related to construction.  Others allow players to create life or operate a vehicle.  The topics that can be covered is wide. Players need to understand and experiment with numerous variables to achieve a winning a outcome. Games include Plague, Inc.and Simcity.

Massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG) allow many players from different parts of the world to play together in this adventure genre game.  But the games can also be played alone.  These games have a lot of action.  The story background often takes place in a fantasy land where players take on the role of a knight and fight monsters to save a kingdom. There are a variety of characters players can choose from to develop skills, weapons, armor, and potions.  An example would be Dungeon Hunter 4.

Action-adventure games focus on gathering items, solving puzzles and fighting as players go on a quest.  Previously these included games like Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers. Today these are more like role playing games without the massive online multiple players.  It would be good to compare a current action-adventure game to better understand the distinguishing features between the two genres.  Text-based adventure games such as Zork was interesting but too slow to play. The original action games were exciting but too repetitive making them boring after a while.  The combination of the two is what makes these games attractive.

Adventure games are a sub-category of narrative games.  These are role playing games where the player assumes the role of the protagonist and goes on  a quest to complete missions.  An example would be Peasant’s Quest where the big mission is to collect items and gather information which can be used to save the kingdom from a dragon.  The genre is similar to a action-adventure and RPG except that it has less action and character development.  The interactivity is text-based where commands are used to gather information and using the arrow keys to move.  The game allows players to solve problems by interacting with the environment. They can talk to people, enter buildings, and search the land. Text commands must be very specific or they will not work.  I found this be to tiresome after an extended period of time.

Narrative games focus on a story with a mission to solve a puzzle. Interaction is done by entering text to move the character and perform actions such as collecting items and fighting.  A good example is a game called Zork, which was created in the late 1970s,  The mission is to navigate a subterranean world to find treasures and kill monsters and come back alive.  The game is similar to an adventure game but lacks graphics,which means users must imagine and visualize the setting, characters, and positioning.  From an educational perspective, a course on map making or graphic design would be well suited.  It would also work with well with second language learners because the story has very limited text to digest.  Students could use basic commands to  have conversations.  A more modern game would probably be appropriate for higher level students.

Other types of games such as poker, Chinese checker, and Yahtzee may provide a means for education. After playing poker the educational value that came to my mind was a reading comprehension lesson related to the game such as tips and tricks, the history of playing cards, or probability.  A lesson on probability would probably be most beneficial. First reading about how probability works and then using the cards to test the numbers. Chinese checkers brought back memories of game nights with the family in summer.  I think a game like this could be used in combination with another game as a way for students to analyze the similarities and differences between the two games. They could express their thoughts through discussion or reflection. Another lesson could be to compare a game’s instruction and experience.  Students would read the directions and then play the game.  The purpose would be to differentiate the learning that’s acquired from reading textual information and learning acquired through experience. It would interesting to see if students had a different understanding and perception as result of playing the game.

Actions games involves reacting to particular situations with incoming enemies.  Players often destroy or fight enemies.  Good example are Galaga and Pac Man.  Games are usually fast pace and exciting.

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