Sunday, August 28, 2011

Children and Tech Series - Post #4

WORLD . OF . GOO !!!…and can you speak-ah the lingo?
Monday, January 31st, 2011

Oh my goo-d. I can’t believe how much fun World of Goo has been.

I have to limit myself folks – seriously. I could play on and on and on…I have to admit that I had so much fun that I went on to purchase the rest of the game, so that I could take a look at what the rest of the world looked like.

That is a big component of games for me – exploring the world. I was talking to a novelist friend yesterday who was telling me about how writing a novel can be like holding something very large and alive, something with a lot of surface tension and viscosity and solidity, and I started thinking about games in the same way. The way the creators make a whole world, and then release it to the masses. And this is some of the important discourse happening around games right now (and probably always) – the made worlds’ confines as opposed the the open-source, co-created worlds’ diffuseness. The container of the made world allows for only certain things to happen – like not being able to scale certain terrain, steer certain things but not others, or interacting in prescriptive ways (hello drop down menu!). However, on the other side we have the intimidatingly openness of co-creative projects that sometimes seem like they have no limits, and things just get lost in the Twisting Nether. I don’t have any answers about this by the way, just observations and wondering.

But it leads me to think about communication, and communication through technology. The fears society has eloquently and excitingly (and hilariously, gorily) expressed in Terminator films and Technozombie cults of Borg may be a bit overwrought. I have faith in the body, in the hand, and I think we may be experiencing the rush of excitement that ALWAYS happens when something novel enters society. Technology may not be replacing face-to-face. It may only be changing it for a bit.

Communication in the 21st century looks like it’s going to be about literacy, and a broadening of that term (and of the term language) to encompass a lot more than we may be able to express right now. What if novels become multi-sensory collages of written text, holographic adventure, audio-video clips and visual material? What if letters shift from written to a mix of written, recorded, transmitted and visual snapshots or vid clips?Are we on the cusp of something giant and new, or are we expanding with the surface of the bubble of novelty til it pops?

There is no question that technology has changed communication – I can now skype with my parents in Nova Scotia every day, for free if I want to. However, I love what the text said about illiteracy in the 21st century – being not about not being able to read and write, but about learning, unlearning and relearning (Toffler, as cited in Jonassen, Howland, Marra & Crismond, 2008).

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