Would you mind taking a photo of my beaver?

Nicola Whitton

I had a wonderful day out down in Birmingham on Saturday for the Grand Finale of Emergent Game, the brainchild of Nikki Pugh. The emergent game is kind of hard to explain… part online, part real-world, it involves selecting a cuddly toy avatar, undertaking a whole range of missions, and doing loads of creative things with technology.

I was really amazed at the way that this game became so engaging so quickly, how easy it was to slip into ‘avitari talk’ and how motivated I was to learn how to use lots of web applications simply to achive missions (and the kudos of my fellow ludens). When we finally met face-to-face over a cheeky beer it was like I had known these people for ages.

I think the emergent game structure has loads of potential in educational contexts. In particular:

  • the way that it is designed with players (ludens) and people who watch (sapiens) so that watching is seen as a legitimate way to participate;
  • the design of missions so that they are scored in five qualities – character, creativity, collaboration, community and cabaret – and so that working together is both essential and rewarded;
  • the way that the missions list could be expanded and, in fact, there were missions that involved designing additional missions;
  • the creative way in which the players embraced a whole range of web 2.0 technologies to achieve missions, and supported each other when technical difficulties arose;
  • how much the game made me laugh out loud – it was just so silly. I suspect that sharing a sense of humour is very important to making something like this work.

Of course, I really should have spent more time at the beginning of the game when selecting my avatar, thinking through the consequences of choosing a beaver…

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