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The student's guide to balancing real life, good grades, and video games

The student's guide to balancing real life, good grades, and video games
If academic success for fans of video games were as simple as "Do your homework and limit your time online," we'd all be LFG amongst a population of Rhodes Scholars. But maintaining your sanity (and your grades) when your most beloved hobby is designed to be an endless maze of virtual delights involves more than vague notions of buckling down during key pressure points. Achieving balance requires effective tactics to help you keep your life in balance -- and that's what we'll be covering here.

Playing an MMO like World of Warcraft as a student drops you into a minefield of inflexible teachers and schedules, disapproving parents, unaccommodating raid schedules, and blithely tempting guildmates. Trip on any one of these drama bombs, and you're in for what we sometimes ironically refer to as "good times." Whether you're an independent college student or still working out your schedule with Mom and Dad, we'll show you how to set and stay on course while heading off the most common school/life/play issues before they strike.

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Filed under: Drama Mamas

15 Minutes of Fame: WoW goes to English class

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

Remember when we interviewed the two teachers who were injecting motivation, teamwork, and pride into at-risk students via an after-school World of Warcraft program? Educators Lucas Gillispie and Peggy Sheehy are still at it -- and this time, they've scooted the gaming back squarely into school hours with an elective language arts enrichment class for 15 middle school students.

"Our kids are embarking on a Hero's Journey as they compare their own experiences in World of Warcraft to those of Bilbo Baggins in Tolkien's The Hobbit," explains Gillispie. "They're engaging in creative projects as well, such as live tweeting the events leading to Cataclysm from NPC's points-of-view (see #wowinschool hashtag). They're creating digital propaganda posters related to in-world events, writing riddles to share with players on their server, and learning leadership through their student guild."

Sounds great in theory -- but we wondered what the kids themselves thought about the program. So we asked three of them, all new to the World of Warcraft, what they think about the game itself, what they feel they're getting out of the class, and whether or not the experience has given them any new perspectives on gaming.

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Filed under: Druid, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

We Have a Tabard: Ring the bell, school's back in


Looking for a guild? Well, you can join ours! We have a tabard and everything! Check back for Amanda Dean talking about guilds and guild leadership in We Have a Tabard.

Drama is not the only issue to cause hardship among raiding guilds. We've seen guilds crumble and fall over new raid content. It seems we've come across another time-sensitive factor: the beginning of the school year. Guilds that have been blissfully progressing throughout the summer may be seeing their attendance plummet.

Remember folks, some things are more important than WoW. Education tops the list. It would be poor form to badger your scholastic members into raiding when they've got homework to do. Students also need a good night's sleep in order to perform successfully. This goes for college students as well as high schoolers, but they may have more flexibility in scheduling. In the end, WoW is just a video game and school affects the present and the future.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Features, Raiding, (Guild Leadership) We Have a Tabard

Using WoW for learning in schools

We've heard about WoW in schools before, but usually it's at schools of higher learning, where they're studying social networks or how society evolves. But a group in North Carolina is planning to put WoW in schools in a different way: by using situations in World of Warcraft to develop literacy, mathematics, and other competencies. WoWinSchools has math lessons and other tests based around WoW terms and knowledge: one example question asks "Which types of heals produce a greater number of recovered hit points during an encounter?" Another wants to know "Which buff (a spell that enhances a character's abilities) is more effective for your character, Blessing of Kings or Blessing of Might?" The idea is to use situations that the kids are familiar with in World of Warcraft (raiding, for example), and apply higher level thinking to those situations.

There are even creative writing suggestions dedicated to the game, from writing an RP story about a character in Azeroth, to writing a song parody (that one should be taught by Professor Turpster) or designing a quest chain. And lest you think they're just joking around, there's a whole slew of research behind the idea, too, and it definitely makes sense: kids who play World of Warcraft are much more likely to be interested in problems about DPS and Healing rather than Susie and Bobby's apples that we added and subtracted back when we were kids in school.

It seems like the only place this is implemented is in one afterschool program -- while there are lots of good ideas here, it's not necessarily being used in many classrooms yet (and my guess is that not every student in schools would vibe with a World of Warcraft-based curriculum, either). But it is a plan in development, and anything that better helps teachers understand what their students are interested in is probably worthwhile.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Talents, Buffs

Blizzard helps host art show at Laguna College of Art and Design


The Laguna College of Art and Design has worked pretty closely with Blizzard in the past -- some of Blizzard's employees are on faculty there, and they've sent artists over to work with students before. They've also put on art shows there, and this week, they're putting on another one. The exhibit will open on October 1st and last through the rest of the month, and they're having a reception event on October 23rd (it's open to the public, and you can bet that there will be more than a few Blizzard artists there to say hi to).

Sounds like fun. Here's a slideshow of student art scheduled to be in the show -- none of it looks to be strictly Warcraft-related, but there is a little Blizzard flavor in a few of them (especially this one, I think). It all looks well done -- maybe we'll see some of this stuff exhibited at BlizzCon as well. If you're in the area and you do go see it, make sure to tell us what you think.

Filed under: Events, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Fan art

Student newspaper raises concerns about WoW addiction

A boy skipped his senior prom because he was busy playing WoW. A woman divorced her husband because he was more interested in WoW than in her. We've heard these kinds of stories many times before; the media runs them all the time. And while it's frustrating that the games we play are often seen only in that light by the public at large, there's no denying that some people have a problem with unhealthy addiction to WoW and games like it.

The student newspaper of Northeastern University ran yet another piece lamenting the negative effects of World of Warcraft on some people. At this point, all these addiction articles are becoming white noise to me, but this one had a couple notable contributions to the discussion.

An expert was quoted within, saying that video game addiction is mostly a problem for young males of high school or college age. Imagine that! Also, the article featured a not-new quote from Liz Woolley (founder of On-Line Gamers Anonymous and the mother of that boy who committed suicide while playing EverQuest way back when); she said that MMO developers know that players can become addicted, and that those devs are therefore "no better than drug pushers." I think that's a bit harsh, but it's understandable that she'd come to that, given what she's gone through.

You can still achieve many of your in-game goals on limited playtime. Our weekly WoW, Casually column has the hints, tips and tricks for those with 2 hours or less to play.

Filed under: News items

How Schools Want You to Spend Your Summer

In response to our summer vacation topic the other day, the Collegiate Times has posted a list of summer vacation 'do's & don'ts' (how quaint), and coming in at number five on that list:

5.) DON'T lock yourself in your room all day playing video games. It's only acceptable to spend eight consecutive hours in a virtual fairy-land if you are doing so with another human. Instead of closing your door and giving everyone the sneaking suspicion that you have formed an irrefutable bond with your right hand, knock on the next room down and make friends with dudeface so you can combine your warrior fighting noob powers. Don't worry, Zelda's Twilight Princess will be out in November, and you will have plenty of time to hide away in the darkest corner of your room to ride Chocobos and raise your HP to "Level 9 - Congratulations! You've graduated to the shameless rank of social outcast!" - insert retainer slurping noises here.

So, does that mean that as long as you're playing games with other people, then it's ok? Is it just the Zelda games they want you to stay away from? And if so, why do they want you to wait until the school year to start playing? Something's fishy here...

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items

More on WoW Addiction in Students

From today's issue of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, the school paper of Colorado State University, comes another article concerning the addictive properties of WoW and the effects it can have on one's schoolastic life. The article talks with several students who detail the reasons that they just can't break themselves away from the game screen, and touches on numerous other points that we've all heard before, but shouldn't expect to hear the last of any time soon.

One student does have a good quote illustrating why he no longer plays the game, however: "I like to live, breathe and eat, so I don't play that game anymore."

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items

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