Obviously when you work with gaming issues, you will run into a game that is addictive and just plain fun…but is there an “educational use”? Let me introduce you to Plants vs. Zombies.
a game in which you defend your piece of suburban paradise against evil zombies with a variety of deadly plant life.
We’ve been exploring the application of games to learning in the Educational Gaming Commons, but one institution that has been using games in their training is the military (hence the term “war games”). There’s a lot that can be said there, but I think a common (but somewhat true stereotype) is that few civilian women will experience this.
Although a lot of MMOG (e.g. World of Warcraft) and shooter games can teach similar skills, they are still primarily the domain of the males. But this game is actually appealing to both men and women. The zombies are wonderfully creepy, but I confess that I also adore that darling plant weapons which have the cutest cartoon expressions.
The pea shooters shoot happily away, the energy providing sunflowers smile, and even the frowny squash face is awfully lovable. And you can’t ignore the fact that the night weapons (mostly mushrooms) glow in the dark just like in Avatar.
What’s interesting though is that the military strategy is still there, because the zombies do mean business. You do have to select weapons carefully and place them wisely. Thanks to my mother I’ve been watching war movies all my life, but I haven’t really appreciated the quick thinking you need when a new wave of zombies are coming nor the difference between a weapon that shoots or one that lies around and blows up.
We even see sea and air action in later levels, not to mention nightfall and foggy conditions. It’s critical to choose the plants that will work in those conditions and discard the irrelevant ones. And yes I feel a rush of adrenaline when a huge wave is coming, the relief thrill of surviving another level and the anticipation of continuing to the next level.
I don’t feel qualified to fight the next war or anything, but I do feel like I understand some military tactics better, and since the need for a military is still a part of our life, it isn’t a bad idea for educated women to gain a partial understanding of what combat is like, especially if they are in Congress and sitting on intelligence or defense committees (as they already do of course). It’s just too bad we can’t all fight with cute purple mushrooms.