Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Hard fun is not always fun

"It's fun, hard fun"

Seymour Papert tells the story of a young person emerging from a logo workshop uttering the above words. Programming is hard, but the bottom line, it's fun.

I think it's too glib. Hard fun is not always fun, sometimes it's just hard, frustrating, tear your hair out, why am I so stupid, why the hell did I ever start doing this, etc.

The challenge to transfer from Game Playing to Game Making in a school setting does make sense - there is a connection - but it is also problematic, there is also disconnection.

Yes, it's fun choosing sprites and playing games.

Friends in the class? Maybe yes, maybe no.
Good enough at programming to achieve the game I really want to build? Probably not.

Write a detailed design document before building my game? Not much fun here!

I've been talking to my students about this. Some say it's worth it because they are building a game they want to build and no one has ever offered them the chance to do that before in school. Others express some frustration. The programming can be hard and frustrating, the design requirements arduous and not anticipated.

I think it's time to trash my Game Making course slogan as false advertising: "Have fun while you learn!?" Maybe not. But what slogan should I use?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

g'day bill

hmm ... hard fun.

i remember reading the science show's robin william's biography, and he was saying how much he hated being part of the school cadets. later in life, he realised how much other kids loved the order and regimine and for them, school cadets were very important.

so it is with gamemaker. it deals with higher order thinking skills, and for those kids, who are often sadly missed out with a one size fits all education delivery, where teaching bandwidth is stolen by those whose whose damaged personalities demand the major part of teacher's attention at the detriment of the rest of the class.

gamemaker allows for that group of kids who reach a sort of takeoff point to just go. once the framework is set up, they can discover the rest for themselves.

reading through the enthousiastic email on the pigmi.org list, i an really encouraged.

now we can wax lyrically about teams and planning and nsasi-schiederman diagrams, but i think that once you have captured the kid's enthousiasm and attention, they sometimes choose to make a lifetime career out of this and the planning follows

i am reminded of one of my favourite quotes, brought out i think around the time inxs were making $1M a day. he said something loke this.

"the australian rock industry is worth just under 1% of gdp. it survives without any subsidies or tarrifs, and one of the major reasons given for it's success is it is not taught in schools"

gamemaker does this.

and to get there, there needs to be some hard fun.

but that is part of the journey.

5:42 PM  

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