Achievements

If anybody reading this is an online educator, or any educator for that matter, you need to stop reading this, go to Wal-Mart, buy World of Warcraft, and play it for 2 months. It’s homework.

I can not believe how engaging this game is. There has to be some way to figure out how a game can take boring, meaningless tasks, and make them fun, engaging, and dare I say, educational.

Blizzard, the company that makes World of Warcraft, just came out with a patch. They updated the game, and now there is something called ‘achievements’. Basically when you do something (usually something boring), you get a virtual ‘star’ for it. Usually you get 10 points (you can’t turn those points in for anything), and a message goes out to your guild saying, ‘Herman just did X’. And that’s it. That is all there is to the achievements. It’s nothing more than a way to record what you did.

The crazy thing is that everybody is doing them. Like mad. One achievement is to discover every area in the game. I think there are close to a thousand areas. So you hop on your little mount, and ride around the country. You just run around, trying to find all of the zones. It’s mind-numbingly boring, and takes hours, but it seems like everybody in my guild is doing it. Every 10 minutes I get a message that says something like, “Magicatak just discovered Western Plaguelands!”

Many of these achievements will take weeks, if not months to do.

Maybe this whole ‘student confidentiality’ thing is wrong. Maybe instead of giving grades, we should give students levels, and make it public. You’re at level 7 math, level 9 reading, and level 15 writing. You could have achievements like knowing your 7 times table in 8 seconds or less. We’d keep track of it on some social network, and you could proudly display all of your achievements to your guild…er, class.

Sound like a crazy idea? That is because you’re still reading this, and not playing World of Warcraft, like I told you to. Go. Go and see if you can figure out how Blizzard seemed to pull off the impossible. They have got me baffled.

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One Response to Achievements

  1. Sean says:

    It is funny how we are wired. Microsoft and Playstation do the exact same thing. Both of their networks award achievments for playing their games. The thing is that the only reward for getting achievments and going up levels is bragging rights, you don’t even get anything for doing that. What this accomplishes is that, people will buy some of the stupidest games and play through them until they get every last achievment. This can take several playthroughs. It even effects how I play a game. On the rare occasions I get to play, it leaves me with the choice of giving a guy a headshot, or sneaking up behind him and snapping his neck :). It just depends on what achievment I am going for.
    As for WOW, I promised my wife no more mmorpg’s EVER.
    And as for education, by all means do whatever it takes to stir up a little competition. Its how the real world works and kids love it. My kids compete the moment they get out of the car and race each other to the door. If you snuck in some reading and math competition, I can’t help but to think it would be a hit.

    Sean

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