Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is sweeping the world. What is it you ask? Haven’t heard of it? This interactive game for your smartphone engages players with a hunt for Pokemon in ‘real life’. It uses Google maps to take players on a journey through urban and rural landscapes on a large scale treasure hunt. There are incentives along the way to win more and collect extra Pokemon paraphenalia.

According to David Theriault the game draws on the knowledge that players use their phone for everything; to communicate with friends, blog, game, shop, view. This latest game makes the most of the smartphone as a learning tool.
Recent media reports have noted a new phenomenon and had to explain sudden mobs of people gathering around public spaces with their phones. Each one is finding Pokemon.
There is rumblings of large scale meets to walk together to find Pokemon and some say this has had responses in the thousands. So is it any good? My kids have enjoyed it with their big brother. And I can see the benefits of a game that gets players moving outside and perhaps interacting with peers. Have I got it? No. Not yet….


That Dragon Cancer

I have never liked video games. I am bad at them. So it was inevitable when my boy started playing video games (some years ago now), that I would sigh, shrug and my eyes would glaze over. 

The paradox is that as an English teacher I an intrigued by the game as text and how we can learn from this as a medium. So I have not entirely had my eyes shut when my boy has introduced me to another game, talked about the narrative, the character development, artwork, amazing animation and sound track. The video game is epic novel and film on one, with the added bonus of having full interactivity. You can choose your own adventure and to my surprise you have to have sound literacy and numeracy skills, the ability to problem solve and reason to play well.

My boy is good at gaming.

He sat me down, as he often does to show me a video. But this time it was different. This was a gaming review of a new production That Dragon Cancer. What comes to mind?

Honestly I did not expect what unfolded. The Good Game reviewers (see you tube review here) were pleasantly authentic in their response to this game that was born out of a couple’s experience with their own child’s cancer. Cancer is the dragon and in the life of the game you ‘experience’ the competing emotions, decisions and developments as cancer, the dragon devours  the child and impacts the family.

From a gaming point of view even I can tell that there is something stilted about the game, the on track progression and clumsy transitions. However,  this game game created by Ryan and Amy Green, Josh Larson, and a small team under the name Numinous Games use the real voice over recordings of the family that intersperse the play and the result is amazing. I was in tears watching the review.

Most remarkable of all is the game makers inclusion of their strong faith journey throughout their cancer journey. The Christian faith is the framework from which they celebrate small wins and cry out in pain and hopelessness. For me this was gaming at a whole new level.

Here is a real life family experience that has been expressed through the world of gaming, to help others and enlarge each players understanding of what is possible in life. I am more in awe of the gaming world and can appreciate a bit more of what my boy enjoys.