By Guest Moderator Jennifer Borgioli Binis
I once spent three hours running through a sewer, clad only in underwear, darting from hiding place to hiding place. On every dart, I would be spotted by a guard and before I could take more than five steps, I was dead. Were I clothed, each death would result in damage and repairs cost money, so.. naked. I died a dozen times, give or take a few. Each death required running back from the cemetery to my body, waiting for the guards to pass, and then resurrecting myself. Following my last death and run back, I resurrected at the feet of a powerful Sorceress (I don’t remember who she was - just some Horde lady). After quickly opening the a chest at her feet, I grabbed the thing inside and put it in my backpack. I took one step and was killed by that not so nice lady. Again. This time, I rezzed (resurrected) at the cemetery, and proceeded to hoot and holler, yelling to my husband, “I got it!” Not because I got the thing but because that thing got me an achievement and points. Those achievement points got me closer to a DIFFERENT achievement that I’ve been working on for years. Yes, years. This bigger achievement will get me nothing besides a title that will float above my head. So don’t tell me that grit isn’t a real thing.
So yeah… I play World of Warcraft. More precisely, I play as a Human Shadow Priest (Level 100), which means I play for the Alliance (as opposed to the previously mentioned Horde.) I’m a bit of an anomaly in that I play one character (aka toon). Some players I’ve met in the game play multiple characters (called alts.) I play PVE (player versus environment) and only kill mobs (non-player controlled characters). I’ve only once killed another player in PVP (player versus player) because I had no other choice. That player was the only thing standing between me and an achievement. As is pretty clear in this paragraph, playing WoW or any massive on-line game involves learning a whole new vocabulary and way of interacting with the on-line world.* Odds are good that there are teachers in your building who play WoW, Eve, or something similar. Maybe you’re a gamer in your free time. Although it may sound like a foreign language, there are many connections to the world of education. Tonight’s WeirdEdChat is about exploring those connections and trying on a new vocabulary for size.
*If you’re interested in getting a better sense of what it’s like to play WoW a different way - doing raiding, being in an active guild - check out You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day. It’s a seriously good read.
Tonight’s questions are framed around both the world of WoW and its mechanics.
Q1 Background: If one were to draw an analogy to education, those in the Alliance are the students who loved school so much, they made a career of it. They saw the power and beauty in formal, public education and wanted to be a part of it. They celebrate positive change and seek to ever evolve the system, while maintaining the heart of a free, liberal arts education for all. The Horde, meanwhile, are the students who hated school so much they joined the system to change it from within. School didn’t work for them and now they want to ensure that no student feels the way they felt. They seek to change the system through ways that are sometimes dramatic and subversive.
#WeirdEdC Q1: What type of educator are you? Alliance or Horde? Defend your position.
Q2-Q5 Background: Part of the appeal of games like WoW, Eve, Everquest, or the like is working with players from around the world. In WoW, players queue for dungeons (smaller, enclosed spaces, usually run with 4 other players) or raids (larger, more involved spaces that can range from 10 to 30 players). Once in the raid, there are set roles with set responsibilities.
Q2 Background: The tank. The tank is the player who pulls (pokes the bear, as it were) the mobs in the dungeon or raid. They go first and take the hits. They are up in the mob’s business and when they die, it’s game over. Once the tank goes down, other players willingly step into the fire to die, knowing they’ll never finish without their tank.
#WeirdEdC Q2: How do tanks manifest themselves in education? Who are our tanks?
Q3 Background: The healers. Doc. Heals. Players who choose to play as healers are so popular, they get extra perks for running dungeons and raids. We need them. They are found on the edge of a fight, conjuring healing rain, hovering over wounded players, and remaining light on their feet to ensure they don’t die and leave their charges unprotected. They are the nurturers but aren’t afraid to yell at tanks if they get too far out of the heal’s reach.
#WeirdEdC Q3: When have you had to play the healer in the last week?
Q4 Background: Melee damage. They are the fighters who are right there with the tank, though more bumblebee than sledgehammer. They dance back and forth, moving with the fight, covering and protecting the tank, attacking the mobs weak points. They are consistent, consistent, consistent. Nothing flashy, nothing special but dependable and steady.
Ranged damage. Ahh.. sweet ranged damage. Look to the left of the heals. See that toon that is casting spells directly at the mob? See how the player follows the healer and stays waaaay back from the tank and the mob? That’s us ranged players. We can cast spells that inflict damage on the main mob plus all the mobs around it. We can cast one spell that kills slow, and then three or four others that kill them kick. We can conjure pets that do some of work for us.
#WeirdEdC Q4: Now you know all the classes. Choose your class.
Q5 Background: It’s not uncommon for players to kill one mob multiple times, hoping for it to drop one particular item. That item may complete a set, be an ultra rare mount, a once-in-a-game pet, or a piece desperately needed for an achievement and WHY WON’T IT DROP, ALREADY??
#WeirdEdC Q5: What loot are you waiting for? What’s the idea or thing you keep trying you think would solve some ed issues?
Q6 Background: Once players reaches the top level, currently 100, they are pretty much forced to work with other players in order to get better weapons and armor. At the top levels, these opportunities are presented in raids. Some players belong to guilds and will raid together. Others, however, have to sign up to do a raid with strangers. Although WoW’s construct has ways to ensure all of the players who sign up are about equal in armor and item level, it can’t ensure all players know the mechanics of a particular mob or raid. As a result, players go into the LFR (looking for raid) queue knowing they’re like to wipe, or die, a lot. Occasionally, though, you arrive in a raid and it’s like clockwork. No one stands in the fire, the tanks direct the mob away from the group, everyone stays within the heals reach, and all damage players remember to focus on the adds, not the boss. (last one, I promise. Bosses are the main mobs inside a raid. There’s usually 2 to 3 per raid and all come with friends. These friends are known as “adds” and a guaranteed way to wipe the raid is for the damage players to focus on the mob instead of the adds.)
#WeirdEdC Q6 Did you get to choose your school team? What have been your experiences joining a team you did/didn’t build?