Why am I Afraid to Sound Dumb in my Nurturing Affinity Space?

I have been playing Code Combat for about a month now and still haven’t broken out of lurker mode in the affinity space. How is this happening?


  • I’m experiencing adult onset shyness syndrome (AOSS is a real thing)
  • I secretly fear middles schoolers (we ALL should)
  • I don’t understand the game well enough yet (coding is SO easy)
  • I don’t want to ask a dumb question (they really DO exist)

As much as I joke about not diving into questions on my affinity space, I am excited about one of the discourse discussions. There is a challenge called the Flower Grove and I’m not sure what level contains it. However, it is fueling my progression because I really want to participate in the flower design discussion. Here are some of the designs:

Photo Credit: discourse.codecombat.com
Photo Credit: discourse.codecombat.com
Photo Credit: discourse.codecombat.com
Photo Credit: discourse.codecombat.com
Photo Credit: discourse.codecombat.com
Photo Credit: discourse.codecombat.com

As I was snapping images of the designs I actually made a baby step towards participation.

I started liking people’s images – Success!

As a general overview of my progress, I am plugging along in the second world. If you look below that means I’m in the Backwoods Forest. There are six more worlds after that. 

Photo Credit: Code Combat
Photo Credit: Code Combat

I am trying to make coding a practice in my daily life. When I’m tired of working on school work, I take a break and play Code Combat. One a planning note, if I were to complete Cloudrip Mountain by the April 24th (before final project is due), I would have to complete approximately five challenges a day. This seems like a really tall order given that the coding is getting harder and it takes a great deal of concentration on my part.

But I’m up for the challenge.

Cultivating an Online Tribe is Hard!

Photo Credit: Dendrite Park
Photo Credit: Dendrite Park

Okay, so my Soul Stories community is thriving as an in-person tribe, but engaging participation for our new networked learning space is a completely different ball game. The challenges I anticipate include the following:

  • People attend purely for the in-person connection and don’t want to participate online
  • Key players need to buy-in to the online conversation
  • It needs to be accessible by all member, some are not tech savvy

Soul Stories as a Modern Day Tribe

I’m a member of a Denver-based community called Soul Stories. We gather every other week to share genuine experiences and support each other on such topics as habits, vulnerability, and transformation. The group has more than doubled since it began in 2015.

I am creating a Soul Stories networked learning space (NLS) in the hope of extending our in-person discussions to a Google+ community. Expert Jeff Goin (2014) suggests: 

When you make your platform about other people, they’ll make it about you.

To heed Jeff’s advice, I decided to incorporate members’ input for designing the Soul Stories NLS. I created a poll and posted it to our Facebook community page. 

Photo Credit: Poll-Maker.com
Photo Credit: Poll-Maker.com

So far, five people have participated in the poll and I’m hoping more will contribute within the week. The more I can engage members in the creation of our NLS, the more buy-in we will have for on-going group participation in the long run. 



Goins, J. (2014). Three Important Steps to Building a Killer Tribe. Retrieved March 16, 2016, from http://goinswriter.com/how-to-build-a-killer-tribe/ 

Games Taken Seriously = Serious Players Learning

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Alhambra Palace
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Alhambra Palace

Building Upon Past Critiques

In my last scholarly critique of Taking Serious Games Seriously in EducationI leaned that such a thing a research-based learning progressions existed. My professor, Remi Holden, asked if the learning progression was spelled out in detail. It was not. He then suggested that I look into other serious game research and read an article that his mentor, Jeff Kupperman, coauthored.

It Matters Because It’s a Game: Serious Games and Serious Players was a collaboration of Jeff Kupperman, Michael Fahy, Fred Goodman, Susanna Hapgood, Jeff Stanzler, and Gary Weisserman. This serious research pulled from such academic institutions as University of Michigan-Flint, University of Michigan Interactive Communications and Simulations, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Toledo. The researchers concluded that serious games can miss the mark by focusing on end results rather than creating an opportunity for learners to completely immerse themselves in play that is taken seriously.

The Stage

Players Out Of Time (POOT) is a prime example of developing serious players and for this reason was used as the game of study for Kupperman and team. POOT is an online simulation of a diplomatic trial set in Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain.

This hallowed space sets the stage for students to play the roles of a wide variety of historic characters such as Martin Luther King, Jr, Edgar Allen Poe, King Henry VIII, or Madame Curie. Students asynchronously communicate with other characters through guided discussions that occur in the “Great Hall” or “Courtroom”. They may also write a speech in the “Foyer”, offer  “presentations of evidence,” or blog individually. Most importantly, students are challenged to fully embody their character’s mindset and tone voice in all their interactions.

Photo Credit: Place Out of Time
Photo Credit: Place Out of Time

The Power of Anonymity

With students getting to play a character, they are free to say things that might otherwise be critically judged if said outside of character. For example, when a discussion question asked if violence is necessary, Ptolemy I Sofer responded,


Of course violence is necessary! What should I do? Sit there like a duck and fall through the hierarchy like a knife through papyrus? No! I claimed king ship like a alpha wolf claims his title: he has to fight for it, and as a reward, he is feared, respected, noticed for being strong, for having the strength to be a leader, the leader of the pack. And as a reward he is first in line for food, first in line for hunting. So I have to be like a wolf: I have to fight for the right to be king,” (Kupperman et. al, 2011, p. 25).


The student playing Ptolemy was able to take huge risks in acting out his character’s historical stance. He took his role seriously and this is where the real learning took place.


Emerging Leadership

Heated debates provoked impassioned students to go above and beyond the assignment. The host and mentors introduced benign intrusions of authority. In one instance, the character, Edgar Allan Poe worked to form a watchdog committee by the name of Alhambra Security Committee (ASC) in order to uphold order in the trial. Though Edgar’s character did not have the top dog mentality of Ptolemy, the student playing Edgar realized his ability to lead through organizing and fighting for justice in the serious game.



In the majority of today’s schools, many students do what is asked of their teachers in order to reach the end goal and earn their grades. Their work is not impacting anyone outside the classroom. Kupperman and team studied how to shift this dynamic to a position where students voluntarily attempt overcoming obstacles, and in fact, impact change beyond their classroom.  POOT harnesses this learning magic: students become serious players and embody the role of serious learner.




Kupperman, J., Fahy, M., Goodman, F., Hapgood, S., Stanzler, J., & Weisserman, G. (2010). It Matters Because It’s a Game: Serious Games and Serious Players. International Journal of Learning and Media, 2(4), 21-30. Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://www.jkupp.com/ijlm_serious_games.pdf




What Kind of Jedi are You?

Photo Credit: Potentium Album in Imgur
Photo Credit: Potentium Album in Imgur


Rather than enjoying dinner and a movie out this past weekend, I coerced my boyfriend, Ben, to dinner and a board game at home. Our low key night entailed a quick walk down to Ben’s sister’s house to select a game. One thing was certain, with Isabella being an avid Star Wars fan, the game would have an epic theme. We narrowed it down to either Star Wars Battleship or Star Wars Life. The Game of Life: A Jedi’s Path won.


Although the game mechanics are very similar to the original Life version, I found the storyline to be much more imaginative and thought provoking. Players do not strive for marriage, children, or the accrual of wealth, but to develop the force within themselves. Will the young Padawan (Jedi in-training) choose to walk on the light or the dark side? Whether one becomes a Jedi Knight or Sith Lord the goal is to be the last man standing.


Rob Daviau and Reuben Klamer, the game designers, built many options and opportunities for choice into the game. Choice as a learning principle is best when offered from the start, (Gee 2004). I enjoyed getting to choose the following options throughout the game:

  • Padawan Pawn

  • Clan

  • Life Skills: Intuition, Fighting, Energy, & Logic

  • Dark Path Shortcuts vs Consistent Light Path


I chose to be Choobakka of the Kaadu Clan and Ben was Luke of the Bantha Clan. Both Ben and I took short cuts on the dark side because the rewards were enticing. However, I took too many short cuts leading to my demise as a Sith Lord. Ben went on to become Luke the Jedi Knight who defeated me. Even though I know it was only a game, I felt bad that I chose the dark side. The games ability to stir such a deep moral question surprised me.


“Is the moral dilemma to choose light over dark an innate quest?”


Star Wars is the classic coming-of-age story. The protagonist faces a series of challenges, which force psychological and moral growth between youth to adulthood. This story resonates with all of humanity because we all have to make choices and decide what type of people we want to be(come). The Game of Life: The Jedi Path provoked far more thought about my life choices than I could have fathomed.  


“Am I making choices that lead me toward the light?”


Players get to decide which life skills to gather throughout the game. The rule book briefly touches on different types of Jedis, but isn’t prescriptive. I would like to have seen more reasoning as to why I might choose one skill over another. For example I leaned more towards the skill of intuition, while Ben tended to chose logic. However, at the end of the game it didn’t matter what kind of skills we had, it only mattered how many total skills we gathered. I think it would be more meaningful to chose skills in order to become a specific type of Jedi over simply accumulating skills.

Photo Credit: Dorkly
Photo Credit: Dorkly


I did not mean to think so deeply about a board game, but I must say the game design got me thinking. In one hour, Life: A Jedi Path made the choice between light and dark very clear. It was a good reminder that our character in life is a summation of all our choices: large and small.



Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. New York: Routledge.