Author Topic: Starcraft, Warcraft & Second Life  (Read 4031 times)

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Starcraft, Warcraft & Second Life
« on: February 24, 2008, 11:57:22 PM »
I LOVE online virtual and multi-player games. Starcraft was the first MMOG that brought me into the world of multi-players games. It is an online game in which you build your own empire and army in order to survive in a virtual world with other players as foes trying to destroy you. You could choose from three species, protoss (highly intelligent aliens), terran (human beings), and zerg (guts-exploding creatures). You, as the commander of your entire species, have full control over everything. You need your people to search and collect resources to thrive. You build your own army to protect others from attacking you and to destroy others for survival as well. Warcraft is a similar game in which you choose from four species (orcs, elves, undead, and humans). Both games are developed by Blizzard Entertainment and are currently two of the MOST popular online games, although Warcraft has taken over Starcraft because of an additional feature of developing a hero figure as you play. The hero acts as your second commander and learns special skills during battles.

Although these two games have taken away, from me and many students, a huge amount of time for studying, I still see the potentials for langauge learning in the two online games. For example, the games allow host players to design their own battle fields in which all players compete against each others. Moreover, the games have online text-chat function by which all players could communicate with each other. A language teacher could add a twist to this design by first designing a battle field in which learners are given tasks to complete. Second, the teacher could provide student with information-gap activities to generate two-way communication in the target langauge. Here is a real-life example that I used with my previous EFL students. I designed a battle field in which there were two facilities to be destroyed by the students. I utilized the idea of information gap such that student A, B, C and D were to work together and burned down my facilities; however, each of the student was only given part of the information as to where the facilities were located in the battle field. Students needed to work together using the text-chat function to share the information and complete their mission. Of course, I put in the field some vicious creatures that would attack my students' troops in order to make the mission harder to complete because all players must stay alive at the end. The game turned out to be a great success at least from my perspective because the students were VERY eager to burn down my facilities through intensive communication, and also help each other to survive. However, at the end my design got me into a BIG trouble because the principal and the parents were very upset about the fact that my students bacame obsessed with the game afterwards not for langauge learning purposes, but for persoanl pleasure.  :-\

Although the games could be used in langauge learning, they are not without pedagogical limitations. First, the text-based communication was usually done in a rush because of the urgent situations that arose during the game, resulting in a low accuracy of language production. Second, the nature of the game and the theme of mission were very preference-specific such that students who were more fascinated by virtual battles were more willing to participate while others who had a more peaceful mind were not as motivated. This was the major flaw of my design since the game applied to only a specific group of students, mostly male students. In light of this, Second Life would be a more neutral game in which various participants could engage in task-based langauge learning. I would love to try Seocnd Life for the same idea of information-gap for langauge learning purposes.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2008, 01:12:50 AM by Cary »

Offline Randall Sadler

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Re: Starcraft, Warcraft & Second Life
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2008, 08:58:43 AM »

Good post!  Actually there were several presentations at the CALICO (Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium) 2007 conference in Texas on this topic.  I'm sure there will be more again at the 2008 conference in San Francisco.
Randall Sadler, Administrator, The CMCforum
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Re: Starcraft, Warcraft & Second Life
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2008, 03:11:29 AM »
Actually, I forgot to point out another drawback of using Warcraft for language learning. I found that some of the students were very familiar with the game already, resulting in a lack of communication between peers because the skillful ones could finish the tasks themselves without collaboration; that is, they went by their guts and were skillful enough to explore every corner of the battle field independently.

As an alternative, I thought of setting rules that paired players must burn down one facility each so that the skillful one would need to help his/her partner find the location through communication.

Offline Ryan Boyd

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Re: Starcraft, Warcraft & Second Life
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2011, 01:38:59 PM »
Wow, interesting idea. Text chat is definitely a problem for fast paced games though.  Another option is to have some sort of voice chat program running in the background if the game you are playing doesn't have one built so you could just hold down some key while you speak.  I think this is a good way to get learners interested in learning language and keep their motivation up, but a lot of time would be spent on teaching some students how to navigate withing whatever game is being used. 

Offline Eujene11

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Re: Starcraft, Warcraft & Second Life
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2011, 12:02:55 PM »
I've taught boys from their age and was amazed how much they know about military language. I just checked the web and realized google shows thousands of pages related with starcraft dictionay. One of them are:

Offline sjhan

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Re: Starcraft, Warcraft & Second Life
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2011, 01:54:51 PM »

this is an interesting idea! My younger brother is so into these kind of games, and I saw him playing the game many times. He usually does voice chatting while doing a task ( killing a monster, etc) since he cannot really focus on typing while doing other stuff.
 Too bad that Korea itself has a separate server and he did not have an opportunity to chat in English, it would've been an interesting data for language learning!
Although they use limited language that is needed for doing the task in the game, I think playing these games is somewhat similar to group task: there should be a leader, and everybody has assigned roles.