> One of my lab members is interested in math education, not videogames, and so she asked via email:
> "I wonder what the meaning of games like Heroes of Storms is to you....
Your described conversation reminds me of a question that one programmer in a course in systems programming asked to me in college. He happened to be coincidentally sitting to my left one day in a computer laboratory on the same floor as the "Zoo" computer science laboratory at my college when I was taking a break from programming, by playing a D&D-style game entitled "Forgotten Realms: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: Curse of the Azure Bonds."
He asked me some question substantially equivalent to the following: "Why don't you try writing a computer game instead of just playing it?"
I gave a response substantially equivalent to the following:
"Writing a computer game and playing one are two completely different experiences. When I play a computer game, as opposed to writing one, I tend to be interested in the emotional satisfaction achieved from the experience of a virtual adventure in an imaginary party of adventurers journeying through a fantasy realm. Writing a computer game, unlike playing one, tends to provide intellectual satisfaction only, not emotional satisfaction.
"Look at my computer screen. This character is me, and the other characters standing next to that character are the other members of my party. We are adventuring through the Forgotten Realms, and...."
He interjected, "Who's 'we?'"
I responded, "The members of my party. This is a role-playing game, and the point is to pretend to be someone else. Therefore, in this game, this character here on the screen represents me, and these other characters represent the other members of my party. We are adventuring together...."
He interjected again, "But who's 'we?'"
I responded, "I just told you: 'We' refers to the members of my party. The point is to role-play; that is, to pretend to be someone else. In this game, I am pretending to be this character on the screen, and these are the other characters in my party. We are adventuring together...."
Again, he interjected, "But who's 'we'?'"
At this point, I gave up in trying to educate his understanding. Apparently, he lacked the imagination to understand the concept of "role-play."
Personally, I think that a difficulty that many students in computer science and mathematics have in understanding the concept of "fun" in a game is that at least some seem to have a very different appreciation of the concept.
Essentially, this difference seems to boil down to a discrepancy in their Myers-Briggs personality types. Specifically, one of the four axes in the Myers-Briggs personality-type classification system is related to whether a person ultimately makes decisions based on rational thought or on emotion. Those who ultimately decide upon matters based on the former are classified as "Thinkers" (T), whereas those who ultimately decide upon them based on the latter are classified as "Feelers" (F).
Whereas most people combine both rational thought and emotion in making a final decision, according to the Myers-Briggs personality-type classification system, in most cases, a given individual's final decision generally tends to be based on one or the other.
I was an oddball among students in my computer science department because I was much gifted at haiku
composition than either mathematics or programming, and, generally speaking, tended to think much more like a poet than either a programmer or a mathematician.
For example, I would get bored if I debugged a buggy program on the computer screen for more than 15 minutes, and would occasionally write haiku
poetry just for fun whenever inspiration (my "Muse") struck upon encountering a beautiful scene in nature or a piece of artwork.
Whereas I did find both programming and mathematics to be intellectually interesting, both topics, at least to me, lacked any story element, which I considered essential for emotional appeal. Exceptions to this rule usually had a story element: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Flatland
, and the like.
To me, prolonged abstinence from at least some emotionally fulfilling story generally caused a gradually increasing level of emotional dissatisfaction, resulting in a correspondingly increasing level of stress. While simply reading a story could provide partial alleviation of this stress, such a passive activity tended to cause boredom without some form of active participation.
Therefore, I sought active participation in a detailed story. This experience was best satisfied by role-play; specifically, by playing a role-playing game (provided that the specific setting and plot were sufficiently interesting).
Unfortunately, this need for emotional fulfillment seems to be absent from most students in mathematics and computer science. The few exceptions seem to be those students who simultaneously have a significant appreciation of some form of art.