October 31, 2009

Simulation vs Simulation game

This morning when I played Sword Play (Kendo) on Nintendo Wii, I told my housemate Steve that I am doing exercise. Steve who is a multi-martial artist said, ‘Nah, let’s go to the gym or join Jeet-kune do training later.’

Instead of responding to him, I started to demonstrate that I fought the opponent seriously, as if I was fighting a real person. I did that by holding the Wii Remote Control like holding a shinai (bamboo sword), I entred the state of zanshin (the state of total awareness) by focusing on the action and reaction of my virtual opponent, hence a simulated Kendo competition. I won this first round. In the second round, I hold the controller using one hand, sit on the couch, fighting by merely twisting my wrist in a relaxing posture. I lose the second round. After that, I started to explain to Steve the different between simulation and simulation games, a finding of my second pilot study of PhD research.

‘I can join you to learn Jeet-kune do but do not take it seriously and learn nothing from it; however, if I practice Kendo seriously using Wii, I can actually learn something. So, to learn martial art effectively, it depends on the degree of seriousness I hold when I practice,’ I explained. ‘Even when you practice martial art in probably training place, putting on proper attire, armors or guards, if you do not take the training seriously, you could be playing a simulation game, just like what I did in second round. But if you see the training as a simulation of a real combat scenario, in which you need to fight to survive or to win, then you are practicing martial art, regardless of the nature of your opponent--a real human being or a virtual character. In other words, you could learn nothing in Jeet-june do training session if you are not serious in the training; while I can learn the same martial art in virtual training environment if I take the virtual training seriously. Therefore, it is the mindset of a player or learner that matters, when comes to practicing martial art effectively,’ I elaborated.

In conclusion, it is the mindset of learners that determines whether a game is a simulation or a simulation game. Hence, arguing whether we should delineate between serious games and leisure game is rather meaningless. The focus of game-based learning should be nurturing game learners to be able to take or see games seriously—the key is the learner and not the media. 


Virtual Kendo playing in action.

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