In A Theory Of Fun, Raph Koster talks about how most video games teach simple principles of reflex and repetition. Games like CounterStrike and Double Dash get to teamwork, but that’s mostly where the learning of soft, social skills top out. Raph postulates that there must be a way to teach complex, social problem solving skills in a video game environment – and in a way that isn’t awful and unfun and didn’t we all learn a lesson today, children?
I think I might postulate really explicit idea, actually: a simple social networking site with an anonymous login, but persistent IDs for each User. Each User can post problems and solutions to other people’s problems – kind of like a distributed agony aunt. Users are then *ranked* according to the quality of their solution, by the person who posted the problem. So, for example, User 1 is ranked high at Workplace Ethics, but lousy at Sexual Ethics. User 2 is great at Family Issues, but awful at Workplace Ethics. All Users are then ranked globally, and so on.
Has this been done? It seems like something the peak Web 2.0 folks would have got to a long time ago. You could even call it Problm.com (beta).
Moving on. If anyone ever asks you for a 3-D notation system for music, do not think about it, because you will miss the obvious answer: depth is time, and notes move towards you. Pitch is left to right, volume is up and down, and note colour / shape is articulation. There. Wasn’t that easy?
Finally: Is there any teaching value in games like Guitar Hero / Rock Band? That is to say, could the dead-easy notation used by Harmonix be sl-o-o-o-wly tweaked to approach real (much harder to read) music notation? And, as a related question, is there a way to teach music (or math, etc) in a way that isn’t very very hard? If so, is it related to the Montessori theory of “learn at your own pace”? And will it produce better musicians, or will it only (only!) produce more musicians who don’t hate their teachers and themselves?