As I continue to play the Hamster Run, I am starting to realize that the students that play this game can choose a different path that they can make for the hamster to run through. This will provide students with a variety of thinking or problem-solving skills that they can apply to other educational games they use. For example, after I completed one level of the hamster reaching the carrot, the next level presented me with the same obstacle of shapes with the carrot in the same spot. Ruff Ruffman then asked, “what other shapes can you use this time?” This helps the student grasp the concept that problem solving can have numerous solutions to it. Just like this level could have a variety of ways you can put the shapes or lines in the path the hamster takes.
There are multiple affordances that come along with this game. An affordance in general is an action a person perceives as possible. Adding a handle to a desk drawer generates an affordance to open it. Without the handle it just looks like a panel and someone would not get the idea that opening is even an option. As soon as you click on this game, Ruff Ruffman provides you with a big arrow to begin the game. This is an affordance in itself. It invites students to press that button to progress in the game. It is in a prominent location, large, visible and it looks like a button. All young children would be appealed to pressing it.
As you can see above, there is another food option, a cheery. This has a glowing light around it, that is an affordance. This could be called a powerup in this game, it provides the hamster with more energy, or a “super snack.” As soon below:
Affordances are an essential aspect to consider when choosing video games for your students to play as a teacher. I remember as a child I would always be the first to have the game pulled up on my computer and I would press buttons to start it. I would press all the pretty colored buttons, which may have been defeating the purpose of the game. As a teacher, you want to make sure the game you choose is not too distracting by the colors or design to what you are trying to assess or practice with your students. This game, the Hamster Run, does an excellent job of presenting students with a challenge and a series of obstacles they must go through in learning how to engineer their own path for the hamster while keeping it colorful and appealing.
Throughout the readings, we have discussed multiple threats and advantages one can gain from a video game used in the classroom and at home. I have learned a lot about how video games are much more than a screen and the buttons you click. As a teacher, you must be familiar with the games you present to your students and you must be knowledgably about the affordances and drawbacks from the game. The games you assign to your students should be used to motivate their learning and help them understand certain topics in a different manner compared to doing a worksheet or filling in notes. Squire states in our reading titled, From Content to Context, “games are interesting in that they are sites of naturally occurring, intrinsically motivated and learning” (Squire 22). The game my learning circle decided to study and interpret highlights all of the quality aspects of a good video game such as cycles of expertise, sandboxes, fish tanks and pleasantly frustrating, that Gee brought up in his reading he wrote.
This game, The Hamster Run, is quite frustrating when you are not able to figure out the correct placement of the shapes in order for the hamster to run to the carrot. I believe the most frustrating part of it is that there is not one correct answer. Growing up, I have always struggled with doing work where there is not a correct answer, or when teachers ask you a question where you can answer however you would like. I enjoy being told exactly what to do and knowing if my answer is right or wrong immediately after I finish it. Therefore, this game would have made me very frustrated when I was younger. Throughout this game’s qualities, I am able to reflect on our readings by Gee and Squire where they present that games should enhance the learning environment they are given by myself, as their teacher.