Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Directions to their world

How recently have you looked at the directions of a video game?

I mean really looked at them. Break them down. What is taught, demonstrated, mentored. Where is the step by step process I am used to from childhood?

Very little game instruction is in the booklet. I find myself still reaching for the booklet and then dealing with my confusion because the booklets are useless.

They don't tell you how to play the game. They show you all of the possibilities that could happen if you tap-tap the controller correctly. But have you seen the spread of buttons on a controller?

Who has fingers for all of this?

And I'm still working on my Rubik's Cube, by the way.

Growing up, I was taught to read the instructions because they told you the process of playing a game. All games had them. Everything had them.

Today, however, kids don't need to read the booklet that comes with the game.

Games engage kids immediately. Playing the game is how they learn how it is played. Some games set up tutorials, or practice runs. You get a chance to run the character around the game world and the game will pause and instructions with appear, glowing, with tips and arrows pointing out what to do next.

It is an efficient way to teach. It breaks a complex task down into parts. I learned to coach that way: part, part, whole.

Think out how complex a handheld controller is. We used to talk about hand-eye coordination back in the 80s, but the coordination happening today is on another level. Kids are learning a complex set of directions on top of having to manipulate a complex series of buttons. Imagine the processing happening inside their heads. Just look at kids when they play the games. None are dropping the controller, shaking their heads exasperated, looking back at the adults for help.

The kids never exclaim, "Who the hell created this game? I can't figure it out!"

It is the adults who say that.

And back in school, we have discussions about how kids can't or won't read directions. It blows my mind that this is true. Kids struggle reading the directions on our assignments or tests--they miss major components all the time. They even miss it when I say it and point it out in the text on the printed page. They even miss them when the directions/expectations are the same over and over again. That is crazy. As adults, we can't figure out a video game controller or stay with the ongoing saga of the directions of a video game (while our kids can manage those things) yet, at the same time, kids struggle with a couple of lines of directions on a printed page.

But maybe they aren't struggling.

Maybe they aren't even looking at the directions. Or if they look, maybe something in their brains (that we don't understand) is filtering them out.


maybe we are no longer writing directions that make sense in their world.

1 comment:

  1. Brian,
    You raise interesting questions here. I know often when I purchase something new the directions are no longer found in the box. However, I still often go the internet to find directions, but honestly only after checking YouTube for video support. I'm not as familiar with game playing as I once was. I'm wondering about "cheats." It seems kids are often searching for "cheats" in magazines or online. Are these direction-like in format?