Yesterday, Principal Edie Skipper took her first steps into a virtual reality. Around her, 13 – 15 year-olds were eagerly exploring new areas, taking new quests, and discovering the wonderful world of slash commands (like /dance). Edie’s initial foray into Azeroth, however, was much more calculating and intentional. Observing the differences in the way our students and their principal approached their first taste of WoW was incredible. When it came to race selection, our students seemed more influenced by what their peers thought was popular rather than considering the story elements that contribute to each race. No surprise there, really. As for choosing a name, well, let’s just say the Sisters of Elune player community (a roleplay community), will be glad that we were “guiding the process.” Edie’s actions were considerably more intentional than the students. She spent a considerble amount of time perfecting the look of her Dranei mage and choosing a name she felt suited her new blue-skinned self.
The differences in approach, here, are fascinating to watch. I’m no student of psychology, but there’s no wonder the field is focusing considerable energy studying the way we interact with and project ourselves into virtual environments. If you haven’t explored it yet, Nick Yee’s Daedalus Project details some of his work doing just that.
The unfolding of this process and how a student approaches it compared to how their principal approaches it will be exciting to see. Eventually, I believe the game will begin to put greater and greater pressure on the students to tighten up their game, their cooperation, and focus. On the other hand, watching an adult educator’s approach, and how they support their own learning will make for an interesting comparison.