​More Reasons to be a Gamer-Teacher

A student once asked me if Richard the Lionheart was ginger (we’d just finished a lesson on the Crusades). I stated that, yes, records show that King Richard I had red hair. The student gleefully announced that he had seen Richard in the city of Arsuf when playing Assassin’s Creed. Once again, a video game has provided a visual queue for a student’s studies. AC1_Altair_RichardOur hobbies and our professions are usually kept far apart. This is usually deliberate; a hobby allows you to take your mind off the work waiting for you. In other instances the career and the pastime are so different that they rarely cross paths. I usually put aside my enjoyment of video games when teaching… but every so often the two benefit each other. Continue reading “​More Reasons to be a Gamer-Teacher”

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How do we stop Nathan Drake?

There’s going to be another Uncharted game?! Quick, hide all the precious historic artefacts! Raise airport security! Alert the United Nations to the threat! Make sure… What? No, I don’t think I’m overreacting.

The recent announcement of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has by now generated a tonne of excitement. I’m sure that it will make for a fine addition to the franchise. However, our collective excitement for another instalment should be put on hold. We need to talk about Nathan Drake’s bad habits, and whether or not we can afford to let him run around on another adventure. screenshot_13large Continue reading “How do we stop Nathan Drake?”

What Video Game Can You Always Depend On?

Some of the greatest games only get one play through. Whether the adventure lasts for ten hours or one hundred, or occupies your gaming time for several months, there will come a point where the most entertaining game fulfils its purpose. The story is complete; all achievements are unlocked; each puzzle solved; every enemy slain. No matter how great, most games fail sooner or later.

But not every game. Amongst the shelves of past games or buried in a hard drive is that game you can always return to. Regardless of how long it’s been since your last visit, that game will always deliver. When it seems like you’ve played every game in your collection, a little voice reminds you that you could always play that game again, and you can’t think of any objections. I would very much like to talk about that game today.

Continue reading “What Video Game Can You Always Depend On?”

The Execution of Yoshi Cromwell

The stage is set. Mario’s desire for a male child is an ever-growing concern. His first wife, Pauline, has failed to produce the heir he craves. Age and stress have taken a toll on her body. Mario wants a new, younger wife that will secure his succession, and the vibrant Princess Peach has presented herself as an appealing alternative. A major barrier stands between Mario and his new wife: Bowser refuses to allow Mario and Peach to marry. How will Mario solve his Great Matter?

Last week I introduced a revision lesson that I use with Sixth Form students studying the reign of Henry VIII. The lesson uses the Mario games as an analogy for Henry VIII and the impact his actions had on the English Church. It’s a great lesson for everyone involved and the students recall a huge amount of information through the activity.

Continue reading “The Execution of Yoshi Cromwell”

Mario and Henry VIII

I try to be very careful when mixing gaming with education. These are two of my major interests but not every student will appreciate gaming references punctuating every lesson. Nevertheless, a comparison between video game and subject matter is sometimes too tempting to pass up. In the case of the infamous King Henry VIII, there is a clear and definable connection with the affable Super Mario.

I’ll admit, the two characters are quite different at first glance. Whilst the two men are portly in stature, one is a high-jumping plumber and visitor of a magical kingdom, whilst the other rules over a much more traditional kingdom, occupying his time with women and wars with France. If you dig a little deeper though, you’ll soon realise that these two people have a lot in common. Those similarities make for a great lesson.

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Returning to Pokémon: Better to Faint With Honour

In my mind, there are few competitions nobler and more respectable than a Pokémon Battle.Pokémon Blue demonstrated to me that even the wildest creature can conduct themselves with fairness and restraint in each encounter. No words are uttered between combatants, yet each knows there place and fights with the upmost honour.

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This is the third time I’ve written about my slightly awkward transition from Pokémon Blue toPokémon Y. Last week I grumbled about how in my day we got by with only five Poké Balls and didn’t need all these fancy versions. Since then I have become a little more open minded; after reading your comments and recommendations I went and bought a batch of “Quick Balls” and haven’t looked back. Thanks to your responses I’m slightly less of an old gamer when playing Pokémon.

Continue reading “Returning to Pokémon: Better to Faint With Honour”

Returning to Pokémon: confused by Poké Balls.

Last week, I touched on my reactions to Pokémon after skipping four generations. I’ve enjoyed the game so far but many of the new elements and changes have left me feeling old or confused. Last week I referred to the overwhelming sensation that Pokémon Y seemed to be in much more of a hurry than Pokémon Blue. Whilst I’ve enjoyed my time in Generation VI immensely, there are other aspects that have left me feeling out of touch with the Pokémon series.

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Firstly, the sheer amount of new items filling up the inventory in Pokémon Y is extraordinary. In my earlier adventures with Pokémon, there were five types of Poké Ball. The most important trio were “Poké”, “Great” and “Ultra” Balls, which were all an experienced monster catcher needed. Each variant was more expensive than the last, but had more chance of snapping shut. The Master Ball stayed in your backpack forever and Safari Balls were as radical and fancy as Pokémon capture became.

Continue reading “Returning to Pokémon: confused by Poké Balls.”