Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Everything new is old . . . again

So what is a next generation console game? According to this BBC article, and the fine folk helming Halo 3, it's this:
We're expanding our ability to empower our fans to really take the game and make it their own.

Halo 3 will include tools to let gamers edit their own game movies and share them among friends, swap photographs from games, as well as re-build many of the maps the makers have provided, through a feature called Forge.
This sounds really cool, really innovative. Ground-breaking. Sort of a Web 2.0 vision of console gaming, that nobody has ever even conceptualized before, much less put on store shelves . . . Oh wait tic, maybe this has been done before. In fact, this is really just about game mod tools--which have been around at least since 1991 - with the Bard's Tale Construction Set. I personally didn't use the BCS, but I did play the Bard's Tale series a *cough* few times. And if I hop in my way back machine I can remember the Adventure Construction Set, also on my C-64 but back in 1985. I had this really cool Star Trek adventure where you had to repel a bunch of Klingon boarders and then storm their ship. But I digress. Granted, this is a bit different since it's difficult to build much of a developer community when the majority of people transfered files on a 5 1/4" diskette. But here's the thing:


Not that that's a bad thing--the market clearly is ready to support it, and would like to see it again.

Here's my takeaway on a professional level. Chances are excellent that whatever you're working on, it's been done before too. PBL for instance. You could say that it started with Howard Barrows in the late 60s and you'd be right, but whether or not he created it with a blind eye to educational theory it has clear conceptual ties to Dewey and the broader educational reform movement, and that's just taking one step back in time.

We are really good at putting our conceptual blinders on and forging ahead, perhaps covering territory that's already been done--which isn't a bad thing in and of itself, I'm a big fan of replication research, but when you replicate inadvertently, that's a very bad thing. In general, you want to tweak the design a bit--explore an outcome that the initial study didn't, or modify the intervention slightly. And the best way to move forward is to read what's already been done to help inform your replication work. Lit review, lit review, lit review. Probably the most glossed-over practicum experience in any doctoral program--which is bad since doc students produce such a huge amount of the primary research.

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