Kid’s skill and knowledge transfer in MMOs

Today, I gave in. Mr9 took command of Starcraft 2. He had no idea what it was, but has been playing World of Warcraft for a couple of years now – running Level 80 characters; and being as familiar with Azeroth as he is with the local park, his school or favourite surf-beach breaks.

I wondered what he’d make of it – given that is is nothing like Warcraft, and he’s never played Age of Empires etc., or other strategy game like it. I expected a rage-quit within about 30 minutes – as he headed back to Warcraft to beat up more non-playing characters to disrupt civil life in Booty Bay (his current favourite activity). Nothing. Silence from his lair as I sneeked around to spy on him.

An hour later, I braved the conversation; which I have to say was one sided, as he tried to explain the basic situation and his strategy. He’d already decided it was best to hook up with other players, watch some YouTube and take early risks to see what patterns and formations worked at his new n00bish level. He was focused on levelling; getting his reputation up etc., and had obviously transferred the socio-cultural tactics and strategies in Warcraft to a completely new genre of game.

Did he like it – yes. He found it more puzzling; more of a riddle to solve, and said he didn’t rage quit, as he knew that working harder would pay off. Then he took the dog for a walk, and spent some time bouncing off a matress he and his sister had put against the wall for fun.

I wonder just how his teachers, now or in the future can begin to understand how kids like him – and there are millions just like him – are learning to learn unless they first learn to play – and give away this stupid idea that being able to remember facts, and not seek them from literature and others when they need them (Socrates vs Plato, Does Google make you stupid etc) as being something worth looking into. Maybe he can take the computer skills test – oh no wait, they canned it as teachers cant do it. Snarky – you bet, worried – no way.