Learning from Video Games: Impatience

I just came across an article entitled, “I Want It Now! The Fierce Urgency of Videogaming’s Future.” The article identified a key characteristic of today’s video game consumer: impatience.  Ever heard of Farmville?  The insanely popular Facebook game’s chief game designer recently pinpointed that many gamers lose interest in a game because the game takes too long to load.  Take a guess about how long Farmville takes to load…. Six seconds. That’s it. Here’s a quote from the article by Stephen Wadsworth, Disney’s President of Interactive Media Group: “The 20th-century notion of waiting around to watch shows when they air on television, or saving up to buy CDs, is quickly becoming antiquated as technology makes it easy to consume movies, TV and music on demand. As game development and distribution methods evolve, the same trends are changing the way the videogame industry works.” Hang around a kid with Internet access and try explaining an old movie to them.  See how long it takes for them to tune you out and look up the movie on YouTube.  They want everything right now. Here are a couple other highlights from the article: Close to half of children’s television is either time-shifted (through the use of a DVR) or done on a mobile device. While kids are happy to come to (Disneyland) and spend hours in line for Space Mountain, they’ve got a very short threshold when it comes to interactive media. So kids are impatient, is this really a digital characteristic?  When they start getting impatient after waiting six seconds because they can find something (or anything) in three seconds online, then...

Informed by Gaming

Several years ago I stood in front of a group of children’s ministry volunteers and leaders at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin.  For the very first time, I shared my thoughts on how digital kids learned and the challenges ahead for the field of children’s and family ministry.  One of the big questions from that presentation that has stayed with me over the past six years has been: What if children’s ministry became more like a video game than a book? Steven Johnson wrote in his must-read work, Everything Bad is Good for You: Video games are 3D landscapes and soundscapes.  They require complex muscular movements and the answers are almost never provided and there are multiple threads to constantly consider.  Games are often played in community, a global network of like-minded, diverse gamers.  The instruction manuals to many of these games are useless because the gamer is required to test the limits of the system.  Gamers are always asking, “What’s happening right now? What if children’s ministry became like a video game?  Not cheap fluff entertainment, but a visually and mentally stimulating immersion into Biblical community and fellowship with Christ? Because I am still wrestling with this question, this month I am going to highlight a few resources I have come across that relate children’s and family ministry to the practice of video games. I’ll point you first to Gaming in the Classroom. Lee Sheldon, a professor at Indiana University, created a course that was modeled after a video game.  According to the blog, “Every student has an avatar name, creates group project in their guilds, and earns...

What are kids searching for?

First off, a tip of the hat to http://churchrelevance.com/ for presenting the research link. As a children’s pastor interested in technology, media, and the Internet I am always looking for resources related to the way kids interact in the digital world.  Recently OnlineFamily.Norton, a background computer program that shows that your children are doing online, released a fascinating report on the most popular search terms for kids 13-18, 8-12, and 7 & under. Here are the top four search terms for ages 8-12: 1) Youtube 2) Google 3) Facebook 4) Sex Here are the top four search terms for ages 7&under: 1) Youtube 2) Google 3) Facebook 4) Porn Highlights from the research (quoted from the report): •    Kids under the age of seven spend most of their search time online on games (23%).* •    Kids under the age of seven are conducting searches for P2P sites like Limewire and Mininova. •    Boys’ top 25 search terms were mainly comprised of social networking sites, various websites, shopping sites, inappropriate terms, and games. •    Girls’ top 25 search terms were main comprised of social networking sites, as well as music and entertainment/celebrity terms. •    Top celebs on kids’ list of searches include Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Lil Wayne, Megan Fox, Eminem, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Black Eyed Peas, Jonas Brothers, Rihanna, and Chris...