Leading play: Why adults don’t game like kids.

Within multi-player games, like Massively Minecraft, there has to be a design that set’s out to create situational leadership. If there’s one ingredient we poured into the game it’s that. We believe that kids are great leaders, especially when we give them the space and tools to do it.

At the same time, there has to be a higher level of dispersed leaderhip. This is about power, knowledge and context. Power allows the gameplay to be enabled or constrained by rules, knowledge of the game-environment and superstructures and having a grasp of the educational context in which you are trying to operate. If you like, this is the leadership of the game-master – or in Massively Minecraft the kids call it call it Jo.

Situational leadership has to be designed for – to allow the players to lead though; personal values (personal ethics, positive belief in others and vision for the game-world). The need to recruit others to the team or activity, the develop and promote people in the game and have a shared sense o community. The game-master is acutely away that their primary leadership role is to create and maintain a structure that creates individual automony to do this.

The actions that player take are enabled though several freedoms in the game: Link with personal belief; link with the aims of the community; consistent committment to play; have demanding standards of play; are pre-occupied with stubstance rather than shifting tides.

What makes a game-world like Minecraft work for us is that the game-play promotes not just learning (how do do, make, use, show, explain, idenify etc), but that it creates a sense of morality and ethics. Let’s take the most obvious in Minecraft – Griefing. The practice of going about trashing other people’s things (power related). We have low-levels of this, because situated withing communities that allow situation leadership are structures of moral reasoning and practice. This is culture, not behaviour. It is simply not in Massively Minecraft culture to do it, and if it happens, the players know how to deal with it, as invariably each of the players has enough autonomy and sense of leadership that they deel they can step in.

In a world where adults often lament the decay of morality and ethics in young people, I’d argue that kids, at their age of development, exposed to positive game-environment’s and not ‘rules’ are less likely to spend time trying to bend or subvert them out a resitance to having behvaiour controlled simply because someone is an ‘authority’. This type of management wained 20 years after the second world war, but it often seems the most ardent demand of educators when we mention playing games. I would suggest if you cannot lead game-play, then you cannot lead or manage. In that regard kids who are growing up inside game-worlds that do this, in social networks that demand it are either unmanageable or learning to lead depending on your own beliefs and values. I think you know where I am on that.

No lessons, no teaching – plenty of learning and leading. There’s no reason to assume that Minecraft is somehow magical, but for adults and teachers, it’s a fantastic way to see what I’m talking about – and then think how you could take this to any medium in which you can find similar properties – the classroom, blogs, wikis, video …

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