Friday, June 24, 2011

Comment on Bird Hurling, by S. Lefton

I'd add the previous post that:

1) the comment "just make a Jewish Angry Birds" is akin to "just make a Jewish Google" - Angry Birds is a blockbuster for many reasons.   The Angry Birds mechanic is incredibly catchy and fun, the sound design is inspired and evocative, the art and characterization are so good that there are now Angry Birds plushy toys in the airport.  There is excellent use of scaffolded learning as the puzzle complexity increases, and there are regular releases of new puzzles.  It's important for the Jewish world to realize what it takes to make a good game - collaborative teams of highly trained professionals working very hard for many long hours, days, weeks, months.  Skill sets include game and puzzle design, software engineering, sound design, graphic design, plenty of playtesting, usability testing, music composition, animation, and more. 

That said, if the Jewish community helps support game designers to work in our small market, we can build some very cool, modest yet engaging games that teach.  Part of moving the Jewish world into the effective use of interactive digital media is increasing literacy - those interested in supporting and advocating for Games for Learning (digital and non-digital) should consider developing some basic game literacy by 1) playing some games (digital and board/paper) and 2) experimenting for a few hours with making a paper prototype, playtesting, and iterating a little game or puzzle for a friend or family member. You will learn an incredible amount about the process very quickly, the kinds of skills and critical thinking, problem solving, and design work it takes.  You will have a much better understanding of the whole burgeoning discussion of Games and be able to be a much better advocate for the cause.  

2) Angry Birds and its mechanic teach players how to get really good at flinging birds.  In contrast, Games for Learning need to match mechanic to the desired learning.  My task when I am designing Jewish Games for Learning or teaching Game Design for Jewish Learning is to build core game mechanics that teach Jewish skills and literacy.  It's something I delight in working on and I believe, a key way that we will train thoughtful and culturally literate Jewish minds in the digital century to come.

Rabbi Owen Gottlieb
PhD Candidate in Education and Jewish Studies
www.converjent.org
www.mysticalcreative.com

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