Monday, February 18, 2013

Avatars and birth order

Avatars allow us a portal to become something new, or express ourselves in a different way. In Little Woman, I believe many young woman reading can identify with at least one of the characters and in a way grow closer to them and become more attached to the book by living vicariously through their character. Looking at Little woman and the three sisters however I think it is interesting to look at their birth order and how that affects them, as well as other people in my life.

I am one of four, I have two older brothers and a younger sister. My eldest brother, Jacob is a lot like Meg. He liked to tell us how things were supposed to be done, much like Meg lecturing the younger girls, or advising them about what is right in life. Jacob also enjoys the nicer things about life and was the first one to marry. He went off to college and came back with a wife. He is very traditional and lives a nice life serving his country and being a family man.

Jonathan second in order was definitely the rebel of the family. He was always butting heads with my parents, as well as Jacob. Much how Jo refuses to be a girl at times, or conform to the traditions and old way of life. He also did not get along well with Jacob for a long time, much how sometimes with all her antics, Jo infuriates Meg or embarrasses her.

I am the third one, and I can identify with Beth and how is more on the outskirts of the family. All three of my siblings are English majors and I am the only science major. I can not relate to my siblings in that way at all. I also was a very complacent child growing up and didn't cause much trouble, much like Beth. I am the housekeeper of my family, often cooking and cleaning when I go home for my mom. Like the jobs that Beth completed and her wish to just stay with her mother and father.

My youngest, Sarah, is a lot like Amy. She is always getting into trouble, but means so well. She is an artist as well and loves a new way of thinking. She is often shocking my parents with her new ideas and way of embracing life, like Amy going off to Europe and wanting to move up in the world through society.

I think it is interesting to look at birth order as an Avatar as well, how people sometimes identify with how they are "the baby" or how the oldest and what that implies.

Video Games and Education

So playing a video game every week, has really been hard for me to set aside time, since I don't watch TV and feel to some extent that besides having fun I am not learning anything. Being a senior in college I sometimes get caught up in thinking of the Homework I need to do and the applications that I should be filling out while walking through the magical world of Harry Potter. It reminds me of the age old question of whether kids should be playing video games or not.

Playing Harry Potter on the Wii, I am not sure if it could be called practical or educational, but the more I played the more I could think of examples. In the game the player learns about a world that is governed by right and wrong. In Harry's world these objects are clear, there is an evil wizard and a good one and the good one ends up winning in the end. There are also clear missions that have to be completed, taking patience, and critical thinking. One could learn how to think the best way to solve a problem and apply it, as well as thinking on your feet. Sometimes things happen without explanation and I have to try and figure the best way out of it, which is important in real life situations as well.

This also got me thinking about other ways that video games are used. People that play video games have better hand eye coordination and reflexes. There have been studies published on the positive effects of playing video games, players also have better spatial reasoning skills, which may be helpful when teaching children or trying to find the best way to teach a child.

I have also used a Wii gaming system myself when I had very bad post concussion syndrome. Wii has balance games that you can play while standing on the balance board. My balance had been affected so badly that my center of gravity was off and my doctor recommended playing these games. It was very hard at first, but definitely worth it, it helped me a lot, and helped me work my brain so that I got healthier each day. Studies have also been published recording the positive effects of using these games with stroke patients.

I volunteered all last year at a nursing home and one of their favorite things to do was play Wii bowling. It was hard for them as well as got them thinking differently and created some friendly competition. It was a way to get them up and moving while still keeping them in a safe environment, it was so much fun.


So playing video games has never been a big part of my life, I have always preferred my own imaginary world or books to a video game world. I remember growing up however, sometimes playing with my brothers, or creating blanket forts in their room and watching them conquer some game. My sister and I loved being able to participate in that part of our older brothers lives, since most of the time we were too young to be able to play with them as well.

So playing Harry Potter has been quite the experience. I chose the game because I love the books, and I knew the story so I thought it may be more interesting and easier to play since I should know what is going on. I also chose a gaming system that I knew how to use. Once I started playing I love the aspect of it following the book so well. There is narrative, and the characters talk, and the story follows the way it should, with little missions in between.

Since it is a story I did not choose my avatar, I had to be Harry Potter, but what little kid wouldn't dream of being Harry? I remember wanting to get my letter from hogwarts, and playing wizards growing up, it was such an enticing world, that I wanted to be real. That part of playing the game is a lot of fun. I am terrible at playing, but I love being able to kill death eaters myself, and fighting off magical creatures, and finding potions, and getting rid of the evil Voldemort.

Playing is also very frustrating, the missions that I have to complete do not seem that hard, like killing off death eaters with spells, or trying to see if an area is safe. Yet, I keep failing time after time, and it repeats the mission and I keep trying and trying. Sometimes I have to stop, because I become to frustrated, but it always that much more rewarding when I do complete the mission fully. Then I go to a new part of the story and complete a new mission.

I think part of the draw is knowing what comes next, and it does make some of the game easier since I know what to expect and the goal overall. I know that death eaters are bad, and why they go certain places, and I recognize all the places in the story since I have already read about them and seen the movies.

Hopefully I get better with time and continue to learn new spells and find more potions!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Playing with my heart

Play is usually seen as something good, a way to have fun, learn, pass the time, but it can be taken in a negative way when someone is seen as "playing" with someone's emotions. Such as telling someone one thing and meaning another, or not telling the truth in order to get a rise out of them or lead them on. It can be fun, flirting can be seen as a game, or teasing when two people play off of each others emotions. It can also be hurtful when someone says something and means another and the other person is not able to read between the lines. People are hardly ever completely honest however, we are always sparing people's feelings, letting people guess how we really feel and participating in the complicated social game of life.

In little woman, this is seen through Meg and Laurie, when Laurie teases her with a note that is supposedly from Mr. Brooke. The letter declares Mr. Brooke's love for Meg, and when Meg writes back politely refusing, Laurie writes another note that tells of Mr. Brooke not being able to wait because he is passionately in love with her. While being a game for Laurie, to get some fire under Meg and see her reaction since he knows that Mr. Brooke actually does love Meg, Meg is mortified when she finds out is Laurie. The whole family is mad at Laurie and he even gets a talking to by Marmee, it is a moment where we see that playing and certain games can be very hurtful. Laurie was messing with Meg's emotions and trying to see if she liked Mr. Brooke, and he hurt her and ashamed her.

Another example is seen with Meg and Mr. Brooke. Mr. Brooke finally gets a moment alone with Meg and is telling her how he really feels, and suddenly Meg feels excited. She has never flirted before, and when she starts refusing him, the power shifts and she loves the feeling of being in control. Meg states, "Don't think of me at all. I'd rather you wouldn't," said Meg, taking a naughty satisfaction in try8ing her lover's patience and her own power" (229). Mr. Brooke wonders if she is playing a game as well, "....Don't play with me, Meg. I didn't think that of you" (229). Another instance where playing is seen as something bad, playing with emotions is not something one should partake in. Meg's character is questioned in this section, the words naughty is used to describe what she is doing and Mr. Brooke did not think her capable of such games.

It is interesting to look at both sides of everything, so often games are seen as something good but sometimes they are bad. Playing with ones emotions, or hurting someone through playing games is not good and will not turn out well. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Play is Children's Work

Growing up I always thought of play as something separate from school, learning or as educational. Play to me was something that I loved to do, alone, or with my siblings and friends. We would play games for hours, using our imaginations and going on all sorts of adventures. Looking back now I can see how important play is, and how much I learned, and how much can be learned through games.

My mother home schooled all four of us and one thing she taught me is that school and learning are everywhere. I didn't realize it at the time but we learned through playing many times. We built a castle, and dressed up and had a huge feast when learning about medieval culture. We made wooden guns, had my brothers dress up as soldiers and the girls sewed skirts and nursing bags, when we learned about the civil war. We got together in a big group, made a bonfire in our friends yard, and ran around in the woods reenacting our own civil war.

In Little woman Marmee often also uses play as a way to learn, she treats it as important aspect of her girls everyday lives. The girls put on a play at the beginning of the book, they had to do all the work, make the costumes, the set and write the play! That is a lot of work, and they had an amazing time doing it, and it also kept them occupied.

There is also a common theme throughout the book of playing Pilgrims Progress. The girls recreate having a burden and carrying their burdens, they go to the top of the house, which represents Heaven. Even though they play at this, the girls also recognize the burdens that they carry, such as Jo's temper, Meg's vanity, and so forth, and they try throughout the book to work through them.

Play in this book also gives the girls a safe place to express themselves, and learn about the world around them. Jo is frustrated by being a girl and having constraints and acting ladylike. Through play, and creating their play, Jo is able to act out all the male characters, and experience new situations that she wouldn't be able to otherwise. Marmee encourages each girl to play and experience what they are passionate about. Beth plays with her dolls, taking care of each one and loving them as if they were her own children. Jo is able to express herself through her writing. Amy is able to pursue her passion for art, playing with all sorts of mediums and landscapes. Meg is able to act like a girl and forget about how she worries about fitting in with society and being ladylike.

Play is an important part of every child's life it is their work in a way because it is how they learn to interact socially, learn about the environment around them, a safe place for them to experience new things and a way for them to use their imagination and be creative.