Saturday, October 15, 2011

Swampy Needs a Shower? The Perfect Game to Pass the Time.

So I am currently blogging to you from the great state of Florida, just outside of Orlando in Kissamee after a very long day of Shamu and his dolphin friends drenching us poor fools in the front row of their shows (my kids insisted on getting wet and it seemed like a good idea at the time). This comes on the heels of multiple day visits to the Disney resorts so my gaming time has been limited to what I can find for my iPad. I was able to locate a great little game called Where’s My Water? (Video overview of Where's My Water) In this game you simply have to dig a tunnel to get the water from the pipes to Swampy he can take a shower. You have to avoid polluted water, ricochet the water from one side to the other, and water down the ducks you find. All the while trying to get the water to Swampy as quickly as possible, he is very impatient.

So as I'm playing along for the required hour, which turned into 3 1/2 which I could relate directly to my submersion into the "Creative Flow" that I had recently read about on Mark McGuinness Blog, Wishful Thinking: Creative Coaching and Training. In his post he discusses the idea of "Flow" as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, in which a person becomes completely absorbed in what they are doing to the point of finding peak performance, and true satisfaction. Outlined in the idea are nine characteristics to identify whether or not your are in the "Flow" of what you are doing. So as I reflected on my immersion into Swampy's world I tried to see if I had met any of those characteristics as listed below and to see if I was truly in the "Flow" of things:
  1. There are clear goals every step of the way
    I knew exactly what I needed to do, what I needed to avoid, and how to play along to achieve the goals set forth.
  2. There is immediate feedback to your actions.
    Swampy let's you know if you are not doing well or if you get the "bad" water into his tub. Very immediate and obvious feedback.
  3. There is a balance between challenges and skills
    It was easy at first but as you progress more and more obstacles get in your way. The puzzles get a little harder and you have to be a little creative in your water directing solutions.
  4. Action and awareness are merged
    I don't know on this one. I may not have been as fully vested as this characteristic implies but I was certainly involved in the game play.
  5. Distractions are excluded from consciousness
    No on this one, maybe moments of no distractions but I don't focus 100% on games. I have learned to stay at least a little aware of my surrounding in case the sudden questions comes my way from others.
  6. There is no worry of failure
    This I think I was down for, I wasn't worried about failing really. I could redo any level along the way and play them out until the problem was resolved. 
  7. Self-consciousness disappears
    No worries on this one. I did not at one time feel self-conscious while helping Swampy.
  8. The sense of time becomes distorted
    See above line (1 hr turned into 3 1/2)
  9. The activity becomes ‘autotelic’ – meaning it is an end in itself
    I am not sure on this one, how about maybe?
So there it is, 7 out of a possible 9. Was i in the "Flow"? Maybe. Was it an enjoyable learning experience? Definitely. I play a few games here and there and for the most part when I find one I like I become pretty focused. Trying to figure out the ins and outs. Learning how to do the things needed and then perfecting upon them (or at least try to perfect them) along the way. This is a similar pattern to how I approach many of the teaching and learning experiences that I find myself in. So does this mean gaming has helped in my learning and teaching, or does it mean that learning and teaching has helped in my gaming? Maybe a little of both.

So as you read this and other postings thinks about how gaming could effect your learning abilities? Do you see some similar traits while gaming that you can also associate with learning/teaching? Have you eer been in the "Flow"?


  1. I like your comments about relating "Flow" to our teaching. I had never thought about it from that prospective! We all need to develop some sort of flow in everything we do, but it is so important for when we are standing in front of students. You were spot on! Also, I understand what you meant about loosing track of time! :)

  2. You did a good job of analyzing this experience in the realm of flow. 7 out of 9 elements mean that you are probably in the flow process.

    Maybe this gaming was part of your learning process.