feedback in learning environments: earth defense force

In my quest for giving better feedback as a teacher, I'm taking a closer look at how I gather and use feedback in my own learning experiences.  In my last post, @kirabug's google search suggestion was an interesting bit of feedback in my own learning process.  Someone from a field outside my own gave me a tip I didn't exactly understand, and it helped me stretch and see what I was looking for a bit better.

My most common learning environment where I'm getting constant and immediate feedback is in video games.  I didn't really notice feedback systems in games until I tried Earth Defense Force.  The meager feedback I received as I stumbled around the game made me realize how rich the feedback is in games like Assassins Creed and Left 4 Dead.

To give some examples, I've chosen 3 criteria: How does the game let you know where to go?  How does it let you know your avatar's health status?  How does it let you know if your avatar is successful?  I found Earth Defense Force to be incredibly frustrating in all three areas.

assassins creedleft 4 deadearth defense force
where to go map in lower right shows your icon moving past nearby landmarks and distance to selected objectivewell, no.  part of the game is the struggle to find your way, but if you’re not sure where to go, I suggest you go in the direction of “more zombies”map in upper right shows too big of an area with few landmarks. in mutiplayer I found it really difficult to tell which little green dot was mine when I wandered off.  
avatar healthstatus bar in upper left.  screen flashes when hit and avatar stumbles.  status bar at bottom of screen.  red flashes when hit, along with arrows to show direction of attack. status bar on the left of screen.  avatar shows no reaction when hit with what I assume is formic acid, until he finally drops dead.  
avatar successhealth symbols appear above opponents head, and decrease with successful hits.zombie staggers or falls.  bug explodes after a certain number of shots.  maybe it was the gun I was using, but I couldn’t tell if it takes a lot to kill an ant, or my aim was just lousy.  
(ha, lousy. lice.  ha)
In the feedback bereft environment of EDF, I just didn't have a lot of fun, and very little motivation to keep learning new skills.  Even when L4D or AC get really hard, I can figure out what I need to do.  With EDF, I can't even figure out if I'm in the right ballpark.  Imagine what a difference rich feedback could mean for students in classrooms:  the guidance and nudges that let you know where you're going and that yes, you will get there eventually.  I'm not saying teachers should spoon feed or do so much scaffolding there's nothing left for the student to do, but DO give reassurance that there is a way to get through the zombies.

Game play vids may be NSFW and not recommended for children.  

1 comment:

  1. When you finish Portal 2, I suggest you play the developer commentaries through. They spend a fair amount of time discussing mistakes they made in creating a good learning experience, and how they corrected those mistakes.