Anyone who has played GTA 5 over an extended period of time will be familiar with the joys of listening to the radio as they career through the streets of the world’s new favourite gaming sandbox. It’s not just the music that makes the experience an enjoyable one, but the random adverts, chatter, and talk shows that provide genuine laugh out loud moments of hilarity.
As you spend more time in the game, you become familiar with the streets and places to visit, you build up a working knowledge of the quickest and most efficient methods of getting around the map; you become accustomed to, and eventually explore ways to expand the possibilities and abilities available to your avatar. You may even, cheat.
In fact, the more time you spend in this world, the more you find that this is an interactive life experience unlike most others, in that the actions you and others take in the game, directly affect the game and others who play it. For example, certain actions on your part have a direct correlation to the in game stock exchange, making or losing millions depending on your share trading before you embark on your mission.
This is an immersive world that offers the player the opportunity to scratch the surface and see what they can find. Be warned however that no matter how deep you dig, there will be something else beneath, and that is the ultimate pull of the game.
You would be surprised at how many kids between the ages of 13 and 17 play this game. Taking into account the media hype, the playground kudos, and the excitement exhibited by older siblings, not to mention the attraction to acting and behaving like a very bad adult, it isn’t hard to understand why underage kids will find ways to play.
Setting aside all arguments as to the morality of the game, and its appropriateness for younger people, it may be worthwhile looking instead at the learning process on display here. Players know that if they look in specific places, they will be rewarded with something to justify the search. Information is hidden as a part of the unspoken covenant between designer and sleuth. If ye seek, so shall you find.
Unspoken, and yet deafening, in most modern video games there exists the concept of the “Easter Egg” an item or piece of information that has been written into the game specifically for people to search for. It is this process that most interests us, because it is the same process that has surrounded man’s desire to comprehend the world around him. We search for information, to aid us in our understanding, often with the assumption / hope that some unseen programmer knew we would ask the questions and embark on the journey for knowledge, and has PLACED THE ANSWER SOMEWHERE FOR US TO FIND!
Now I know that in the video game, the programmer, the writer, or designers have created this labyrinth full of treasures and pitfalls for me to negotiate, but when it comes to applying this strategy in life, who do you suppose has placed the info in this system we live in? Let us take for example the notion of electricity, or radiation. We were sure there was something there, which could possibly be of use to us, so we searched, and we found. Even as recently as the Higgs Bosun, man has been scratching the surface and finding that there was something of note to be had.
In education, and the pursuit of knowledge, we find that when we can inspire and motivate young people to engage in the search for learning, this results in students who are equipped to deal with experiences in a whole new way. They respond to challenges as though they are solvable, as though there is an answer that just needs to be teased out of its hiding place.
It is an optimistic outlook not merely to be applied in school, but one that can be of use in whatever field entered into. Problem solving, creative thinking, and the confidence to follow convictions all benefit the workplace as well as society in the long run. So how do we get young people involved and engaged in this process of thinking? Well, don’t shoot the messenger, but it appears that immersive video games with extended and interactive scenarios appear to be having a profound effect.
Now I’m not saying that we should be teaching kids to wield dangerous weapons and anaesthetize themselves to acts of random violence, I am saying however, that the desire to play these games and be part of a virtual world is an opportunity to reach young people and align their virtual avatars with their real lives, taking the best of one, and overlaying it on the rest of the other.
The principle is a simple enough idea. Take acetate and write on it in blue pen, then take another piece of acetate and write on it in red. If I place one over the other, I can see both red and blue writing as if it were on the same page.
Take one set of learning experiences, and overlay another specific set, and we have a new structure to process future experiences with. Of course the way that we manage to overlay the experiences is the real focus of our work – this entails the use of NLP principles, showmanship, and devastatingly incisive rapport building techniques. Once these are done, it is a short step to raising self esteem and confidence, and then streamlining thinking to maximise the potential of all participants.
Success comes from the correct use of information in a scenario that requires specific execution of procedure. In work as in life, young people need to believe that they can do what adults do with the same measure of success. Games such as GTA 5 allow them to engage in an experiment that closely mirrors the skill sets they will need in later life. Not so much the ability to hurtle off of a building on a motorbike to complete that stunt jump, but more the principle that new thinking relies on self belief and personal drive, and that if you look for the solutions to self constructed problems and persevere in that search, one will always have a shot at overcoming them.