All entries for October 2009

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. 

Kendo

Virtual Kendo playing in action.


October 16, 2009

Less than 24–hour Vienna trip

15 Oct (Morning)

I am on my way to Vienna from Graz. As I plan to depart from Vienna to Graz Airport tomorrow, I said bye to Graz, the City of Design. I bought an one-way train ticket at 33.70 Euro. Taking a train instead of coach/bus was highly recommended by the host of the Workshop of 80 Days Consortium. He said the railway journey is a UNESCO World Heritage: the first railway on the mountain. This railway reminds me of the tour in Switzerland last year in April. I can still vividly remember the fascinating sceneries of Switzerland, and what I am seeing now is very much alike: mountains with snow, authentic countryside with fairly-tale like houses. Even the train ticket is very similar—with German that I cannot understand.

Going to Vienna is like a dream. Like the experience to Geneva last year, I never imagined that I would have the chance to visit Vienna before I landed on the UK in March 2008. In my old house in Malaysia, I kept a series of calendar-posters which depict European sceneries when I was a teenager. I always dreamt of visiting these places since then. And now I am realizing my dreams, one after another.

Due to the nature of this journey, which is meant for attending a conference and a workshop, I travel alone. Language was a barrier but English plus body language keep me at ease. The best thing about being alone is the maximum flexibility. I have to admit that I am tagged as a well-planned person, but not when I am having holidays. Like now, I don’t know where am I going and what will I do when I reach Vienna later. The good thing about flexible is that when I hungry I eat; when I feel like taking photo, I take photos; when I discover a museum that I feel like visiting, I visit, etc. To be frank, it is not easy to be flexible—I need at least a healthy body + sufficient financial capability to be flexible. And I am really grateful that I have both at this moment.

I am not a food-fancier but in Graz, I was fortunate to taste all kinds of authentic Styrian food: typical food of Austrian students in the FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Science; Mid-range/ splurge food at Hotel Daniel, Hotel Das Weitzer and SchloBBerg-Restaurant (at the Clock Tower). To balance the feeling of being a humble student, I had Doner Kebap when there is no arranged meal.

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16 Oct (Early morning)

I am on my way back to the UK. The train passed through Alps again, and I am trying to record my memory in Vienna.

Vienna is a beautiful city, no doubt though the weather didn’t seem to be very friendly.

There were combinations of snow, rain plus strong wind throughout my stay. Here I have problems to communicate, most of the people I asked for direction didn’t know English. What’s worse, I thought I understood German! Because of this, I was looking for the Wombat Hostel under rain with my luggage for one hour, and the actual walking distance should be 15 minutes.

As I knew I have only one day, the least I can do is to visit a museum and watch a concert or performance, therefore I made my visit relaxing. After analysing the transportation network in Vienna—interconnected tram, train and underground networks, I started my adventure by going to the Parliament Building. I met an Australian who lost her camera after she visited some of the famous tourism spots. She bought a new camera to re-take photos in Vienna. We felt good to meet people who can understand English, and helped each other to take photos in turns.

The rain got heavier, I ran to the National Library of Austria which was part of the Imperial Palace. I visited the museum inside the palace which holds three types of exhibits: musical instruments, weapons, and the ruins of Ephesos. Next, I visited the Natural History Museum. I was impressed by the magnificent collections of minerals in this museum. Also, I saw the Venus of Willendoft, the earliest known human sculpture.

In the evening, I watched a concert-like performance at 1, Beethovenplatz. The performance featured the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Johann Strauss. It was designed for tourists, thus it combined talk-show, concerto, opera, ballet and symphony orchestra. The acoustic was great and if I am not mistaken, this concert hall was used for performances dedicated to the imperial family.

So I did manage to accomplish what I wanted to do without proper planning and gained a happy and interesting experience.


October 2009

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