I introduced some students to the game flOw today. As an “art game,” I knew that it would be unlike anything most of these students had ever seen before.
So, without any introduction, I told them to open the game and give it a try. If you’ve never played this game before, I would encourage you to try the game for yourself to recreate the students’ experience before you read the rest of this post. It’s free and only requires a browser with Flash to play.
There were mixed results initially. One student assumed the game was loading and patiently stared at the screen. Even after I pointed out that he could begin, he had trouble figuring out what kind of control he had within the game. Other students began exploring and deducing the rules of the game.
A couple of students began to observe each other and to ask each other questions. One even got up to walk around the room. I asked them to share the rules that they had learned, which helped the others. I also asked them what flOw was and whether it was a game. They had several different interpretations of what was being represented within the game — from space to microorganisms — and most decided it was more of a simulation than a game.
Although some students were a bit frustrated by my lack of guidance, they quickly turned to each other to share and collaborate (in English!) on making sense of what they were experiencing, which was my goal.
Overall, this was a brief, but interesting conversation starter for these students. Although some initially reported that they didn’t like the game very much, the had a hard time leaving it alone. But, because the game does not contain any English (and my goal was to have them practice their English) I made sure to keep the discussion and interaction going within the class.