Starting Over

The other day, I was thinking about all the times I’ve listened to gamers complain about having to restart from a save point, or worse the beginning of a level, when they die. They don’t want to have to re-do all that work just to get back to the area they were struggling with. They do it because so many games are designed that way, and they have to do it if they want to continue on in the game, but they complain the entire time about how lame all of that repetition is.

But I don’t hear similar complaints from students who have to retake a course or a grade level, which seems odd to me because it’s really kind of the same concept.

Think about it. In a class/grade level, a student learns various skills to the best of her current ability/desire and does all of this work, only to get to the end of the course/grade level and learn that their mastery score just wasn’t high enough to let them move on to the next class. So the following school term (be it year, semester, or quarter), the student retakes the class/grade they failed. And they don’t take just the parts they failed; they retake everything. It’s the nature of how our education system is designed – you can’t just pick out specific topics to re-study.

And no one complains. Some kids actually fail out of a class so they can take it next term with a different teacher. It’s just part of the education game to them.

So, what’s different? Why will they tolerate all of that repetition in their schooling, but not in their games? It’s the same idea – gaining more practice with skills they were weak with until they can do those skills well enough to be less likely to fail at the next level. What’s the shift in perception?

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