Sunday, October 28, 2007

MUDs: Tech Review 3

As early gaming environments, MUDs have been studied by media researchers and social psychologists since the 1980s. However, as the dungeons and forests of the MUDs were translated from words into 3-D images, such text-based fantasy games were rarely mentioned with their value in education.

The following is my review of this game using three criteria: Teacher Preparation, Class Size, Learner Engagement, and Infrastructure.

1. Teacher Preparation: MUDs were originally designed as a kind of "adult narrative pleasure that involves the sustained collaborative writing of stories that are mixtures of the narrated and the dramatized and that are not meant to be watched or listened to but shared by the players as an alternate reality they all live in together." It's not hard for teachers themselves to get used to such games. However, they may need to figure out how to convert this "adult narrative pleasure" into "kids' narrative pleasure." MUDs used to be considered as intensely "evocative" environments for fantasy play that allow people to create and sustain elaborate fictional personas over long periods of time. But does this remain the same as of today? If not, how can teachers be prepared to engage their students in such "old" environments?

2. Class Size: There should be no class size limits since MUDs support multi-user domains. The only possible constraint might be students' access to computers with Internet connection.

3. Learner Engagement: As text-based fantasy games, playing MUDs requires a comparatively high level of reading and writing skills. So this game genre would be more suitable for high school English class.

4. Infrastructure: MUDs are highly expandable.

No comments: