Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Web 2 Assignment - Castle Wars

Web 2 Assignment 3


I went to this website to play an online game called Castle Wars.  People from around the world use this website to play each other, and I was hoping to find someone who spoke French.  After posting a few times in the community chat room and getting no response, however, I enlisted the help of a friend.  While waiting, I had played it through a few times, and now I had the hang of it, so I was able to direct her how to play.  Once she’d figured out the basics, we were able to chat a bit as well.

I used reading and writing skills in both English and French.  I navigated Internet chat rooms and Instant Messenger (so that I could invite my friend to the game).  I learned the game itself, it’s specific vocabulary, the significance of the different cards, and the rules. 

Learning to play the game was the hardest part of the exercise.  At first, I didn’t know what schools, soldiers, and magic did, but I learned a lot by diving in and making careful observations about when I could and couldn’t play, and what happened to my numbers when I played certain cards.  Since the object of the game is to build one’s castle, I did not immediately see the utility of the wall, for example.  After the first game I played, however, I realized that building a wall is cheaper than building onto the castle, and so if the opponent plays an attack card, it is better for the wall to get destroyed than the castle.  Talking with other players helped a bit, too, but mostly I learned by observing.  In comparison, using the community chat room and the in-game IM device was easy and very intuitive; it was like many other online communication devices I had used before.

            What struck me most about this game was that for a student who is learning a foreign language, whether it’s English or French, this would be a fairly good place to practice.  It’s not very judgmental, it’s fun, and it allows one to apply what’s learned in school to real life situations.  I think that appeals to kids.  I also felt a connection with the problem of Internet danger outlined in Leander’s “Wired Bodies.”  Even though there was (supposedly) a moderator, I found that many kids – and perhaps adults as well – seemed more interested in cybersex than in socializing or playing the game.  I realize this may be a result of logging on to play at 12:30 at night, but ultimately we don’t want danger to be present for our students at any time.  If it’s there at night, there’s the possibility of it being there during the day.  I wonder if we’re raising a more responsible group of teens who consciously have to weed out bad information, advertisements, and online characters from the good.  It’s impossible to protect them from all the dangers out there, so I guess it becomes necessary to make sure they can make informed decisions.  In some ways, we have to let them go and try their wings.  Within reason.  There is always that fine line, so hard to pin down.

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