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An Instructional Designer Looks at World of Warcraft. Katie Livingston Vale, Ed.D. MIT. What is World of Warcraft?. MMORPG published by Blizzard Most popular game (3.5 million users) Monthly usage charge in addition to game price Not intended to be an educational game. WoW Sample.

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what is world of warcraft
What is World of Warcraft?
  • MMORPG published by Blizzard
  • Most popular game (3.5 million users)
  • Monthly usage charge in addition to game price
  • Not intended to be an educational game
wow overview
WoW Overview
  • Variety of character choices
    • 2 factions (Alliance and Horde)
    • 4 races for each faction (M/F for each)
    • 9 classes (1 unique per faction)
    • Each class has multiple talent trees for further customization
wow overview1
WoW Overview
  • Players can adventure in solo content
  • Grouping encouraged
    • Instanced dungeons need groups
    • Instances designed for 5, 10, 15, 20 and 40 person groups
    • Better “rewards” for larger group instances
wow overview2
WoW Overview
  • Servers have different world rule sets
    • Player versus Environment (PvE)
    • Player versus Player (PvP)
    • Role Play (PvE/PvP)
  • PvP enables Alliance and Horde character to battle each other
  • Role Play tries to keep chat and behavior appropriate to the game world
wow overview3
WoW Overview
  • Groups are encouraged to have balance of classes
  • Players can join together as a Guild
    • Characters show guild name
    • Special chat channel
    • Typically set up external guild web site
  • Professions allow for gathering and creation of materials for a player
wow overview4
WoW Overview
  • Each server has its own economy
  • Players can sell dropped items, resources and crafted items
  • Game has built in money sinks to take money out of economy (repairs, regents, epic items/quests)
  • Players must save or earn money to continue to quest
overview of this research
Overview of this research
  • WoW is an immersive and engaging game; what lessons can it offer to education?
  • Qualitative survey of World of Warcraft players
  • Ethnographic observation of players in game
survey demographics
Survey Demographics
  • 35 individual respondents
  • 5 female (~15%), 30 male (~85%)
  • Age range 12 - 60 (average 34.4)
  • Occupations of respondents varied widely: software engineers, students, housewives, retired, doctors, biophysicists, graphic designers, foremen, marketing directors, college professors, retail managers
demographics cont
Demographics, cont.
  • At least 27 of the respondents had reached level 60 (max) with a character
  • Each player has an average of 4 characters played (range 1-12 characters)
why did players begin playing wow
Why did players begin playing WoW?
  • Sent invitations during closed (free) beta
  • Ability to solo or group (other games are group-only)
  • Knew Blizzard brand
  • Prior experience with gaming guilds, D&D, MMORPGs or MUDs
  • Ability to personalize characters
why did players begin playing wow1
Why did players begin playing WoW?
  • Friends or family brought them into game
  • Looking for games with cooperation as well as competition
how did players learn to play wow
How did players learn to play WoW?
  • Trial and error; hints
  • Through online or in person real-time instruction from other players
  • Online forums: thottbot, allakhazam, Blizzard
  • Online tutorials and beginner areas
  • Documentation
why do players like wow
Why do players like WoW?
  • Problem-solving
  • Interaction with others
  • Fantasy element
  • Creating own characters
  • Lifelike quality - there are rules and formulas that make sense
  • Advancing characters/levelling up
why do players like wow1
Why do players like WoW?
  • Sense of community; social networking
  • Can solo or group
  • Quest model of goal-based work, progress
  • Exploring a virtual world
  • Shared mutual goals with “tangible” rewards
what players dislike
What players dislike
  • Amount of time needed; “addictive” nature of game
  • “Unruly kids”
  • Rude players
  • After level 60, game can feel like job
  • “I dislike the way my wife looks at me when I want to play it.”
a quote
A quote:
  • “ I love the social aspect of the game. I like fighting evil and feeling like I'm accomplishing something tangible when my real-life goals and objectives are often more long term and not immediately reinforcing. I like kicking the heck out of evil. I like beating things up. I like smiting evil soundly about the head and shoulders. So benefits include release of tension, enjoyable community, and a sense of accomplishment. I dislike it when people take the game too seriously, or forget the the folks behind the characters are real people with real feelings. Sometimes people can be rude and pushy, and that's not my idea of a fun leisure activity.”
what do players think they learn from wow
What do players think they learn from WoW?
  • Communication and social interaction skills
  • Teamwork
  • Group decision-making
  • Strategy
  • A better sense of the real people behind the characters
  • Sacrifice and learning from mistakes
  • How to run a business/ basic economics
how does world of warcraft apply to real life
How does World of Warcraft apply to real life?
  • Helps in learning to deal with different kinds of people
  • Gives experience in working in teams and managing people via electronic communication
  • Requires mastery of basic economics to level up
  • Trains you how not to be annoying in electronic communication
  • Offers “the ability to research, strategize, and then execute a plan to overcome a game obstacle”
how might aspects of wow be used in formal education
How might aspects of WoW be used in formal education?
  • Concepts of questing, levelling up
  • Ability to try ideas that might fail - and then try again without serious consequence
  • Teamwork for a common goal; anonymity and or “special powers” of team members important; choosing team composition
how might aspects of wow be used in formal education1
How might aspects of WoW be used in formal education?
  • Economics and business management - learning how to manage your money
  • Making modifications via WoW macro language increases exposure to programming
  • Group problem-solving
  • Encouragement for reading and math skill development for younger children
how might aspects of wow be used in formal education2
How might aspects of WoW be used in formal education?
  • Ethics demonstrations (thieving, looting)
  • Gender communication studies
  • Learning about professions through characters (e.g. herbalism and biology)
  • Teaching patience and delayed gratification
a quote1
A quote:
  • “I've learned teamwork, tolerance, communication. As the leader of a large guild I've learned mediation, psychology, empathy, and patience. Managing 130 by simply typing to communicate is a challenge but also very rewarding.”
key points to consider
Key Points to Consider
  • Creating an environment similar to World of Warcraft would cost millions of dollars
  • Game players expect a high level of graphical and game design sophistication.
  • Probably best not to try to create your own “game” unless you have significant resources.
pedagogical themes
Pedagogical Themes
  • Social learning theory and phenomenography (communication, guilds) - Vygotsky, Bandura, Marton et al., Laurillard
  • Constructivism (characters) - Dewey, Whitehead
  • Group Problem-solving (raids) - Thelen
pedagogical themes1
Pedagogical Themes
  • Exploratory learning (PvE) - Papert
  • Inquiry learning (quests) - Bruner
  • Mastery learning (levelling up) - Carroll, Bloom
  • Situational learning/ role play (all) Lave, Brown et al., Shaftel
salient themes
Salient themes
  • Economics and personal finance
  • Teamwork and team formation
  • Problem-solving and patience
  • Time management
  • Fantasy/pretend element
for further research
For further research
  • How to use the same pedagogical methods outside of the fantasy/sci fi element (Second Life, Sims Online)?
  • Can real information be incorporated into game play without it being “dumbed down”? Will it be as compelling as a fictional environment?
  • How to get past the “partial anonymity” of games to encourage teamwork in real life?