Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gamer Girl vs Girl Gamer is Fail or How Late to the Party Am I?

As I was washing some dishes this morning (read: avoiding working on report cards) and I started thinking about the gamer girl vs. girl gamer argument that has been going on a for while.  I know I am late to the party, and I may not be totally informed on all the current relevant points in the debate, but I do know this for sure: people who are arguing about this are missing the point.  The point being, that even suggesting that all women fit into either one of two gamer'categories' (one of which that has very little to do with actual gaming) is -to put it mildly- incredibly insulting.

I mean, think about it, would you ever hear a man refer to themselves as a boy gamer?  It would not even occur to them to think this way.  Why do -some- women allow others to label them that way, or willingly choose to label themselves as such?  Sure I have been guilty of having the conversation with my friend Louise and my sister about being a 'serious' female gamer as opposed to being 'gamer girl' but I felt so stupid using those terms, and at the time I wasn't sure why.  I guess know why now, and its all thanks to dishes and report cards.

I would love, LOVE it, if someone hung out outside of 401 Games (tabletop game store in Toronto) or any Gamestop or EB Games location and asked men as they are leaving if they are gamer boys, or boy gamers. (I checked YouTube and have found no such video, but I found pages of videos about gamer girls and girl gamers).  I bet the reactions would range from confused to amused about that ridiculous question.  Yet, apparently if 'the internet' is right, any female gamer who knows anything will respond with: "I'm a girl gamer".  Hmmmmm actually, I wounder if that's true.  Man I wish (for just a moment) I had the kind of presence on the internet where I could say: "Hey internet I want a video comparing men and women responding to the question: Are you a gamer girl/boy or a girl/.boy gamer?" and within days/hours there would be tonnes of videos posted.

I bet Wil Wheaton could make it happen.  That would be so cool.

What's my gamer identity you ask?  Okay you didn't ask, but I'm gonna tell you anyway.  I prefer computer games to consul, and RPG's to FPS's. I am a causal gamer that loves MMO's, and who really digs sandbox games (yeah I said that), and also enjoys variety of tabletop games like; Betrayal on Hill House, Chez Geek, and Descent.  That's the kind of gamer I am.

Anyways, these report cards aren't gonna write themselves.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Holiday Class Party 2012

As you may already know, I'm a teacher.  I teacher a grade 4/5/6 split of 23 (female) students.  It is unusual, but we make it work.  We are in an open concept area that has 4 classes; which has kinda spoiled us, since we are 25 (including teachers) in 4 rooms.  One room is ours, one is for French, one is our daily physical activity room, with a t.v. and wii, and the last is unused right now.

We have started the tradition of class parties being centred around gaming.  For our holiday party we had three gaming areas: the DPA room was for students wanting to play wii, the main classroom was for students wanting to game on -teacher approved- gaming websites, and the French room was reserved for Minecraft*.  We celebrated in the afternoon after we exchanged our library books -reading over the holidays is important after all   I felt very much like a kindergarten teacher, asking each student where they were planning to start their gaming.  Students were free to move between areas as they wanted, but since there was a cap on the amount of students who could play Minecraft, (I only have 9 accounts) I wanted to make sure we didn't have an issues straight off.

My principal stopped by in the middle of our gaming party and was pretty stunned to see how focused all the students were at there areas.  In the last hours of school, before a break, one seldom expects to see a class not bouncing off the walls.  From someone looking in it looked like a very relaxed, boring, class party, but my students loved it.  I wish I had taken pictures of how they organized themselves in each area because they were are slightly different.  In the wii area, the girls made a semi circle around the ones who's turn it was to handle the controller, and they all participated together; they even kept the volume down to a respectful level.  There was only one conflict and it was resolved amicably before I could even get there. The Minecraft group sat together around one of the French room tables to help each other, and random game players lounged on the carpet area of the main classroom in a group, where they could still talk to each other.  A couple of students choose to play apart from the large groups, but they would go in and out, maintaining some social interaction.  I occasionally wandered the different areas to check in, but the Minecraft area needed the most attention since they were all n00bs.

I found it really interesting to see and hear students at the different areas.  On a whole they didn't get very loud, even at the wii Just Dance area.  The girls were are very focused on what they were playing, and most of the talk was centred around the task they were doing.  Sure I had a couple of girls who got a bit silly, but on the whole, it was pretty amazing to see the focused determination that they had while playing.  And if you asked any one of the students, they would tell you they had a great time.  I wish I could see them that focused and engaged in everything we do.

The first gaming party we had was to celebrate Halloween, and I wasn't sure how it would go over, but I now see that this will probably be the pattern of every class party for the rest of the year.  I love it, not just because need for classroom management was very low, but also because whether they knew it or not, they were actually learning and practicing many skills too.  From communication and problem solving skills, to dance, to Mathematics skills, they were all doing something I could at least make an anecdotal comment on, and if I had thought about it, I might have been able to create a simple skills checklist to see if they apply skills taught in class while playing.  But it was a party, so I was more concerned about playing with my students than assessing them.  Maybe next time.

*At our first gaming party there was a board game centre as well but there was no interest in tabletop gaming this time.