This post is a narration of a short ten minute screencast from this week’s session, by way of a demonstration of how my in-game participation plays out during the club when I am present at my keyboard. My screen was recorded, alongside audio from the group present in the room.
I begin this session with an in-game explore of the children’s creations. Almost immediately I fall and get stuck in a hole. Looking down I find I am standing on the head of a zombie that also appears to be trapped.
After a few failed attempts to jump out I cheat and enable creative mode for myself, allowing me to fly to safety. I fly above land for a short while, before disabling creative mode. Looking back on the screencast, I wonder why I did this – why not allow myself to continue in this mode that allows freedom of movement? I walk past pigs and other avatars, pausing in game someone address me, in the room, with a technical problem:
Freya: ‘Mr Bailey, it’s gone dodgy!’ I take it as given that ‘it’ refers to the computer, or the game and dish out my usual rubbish advice (‘Log out and log back in again’) and continue.
I enter and soon exit a grey structure, created by the children, which seems half finished and uninhabited, changing direction to look for other points of interest. There are signs outside this building that I have seen before, detailing who can and can’t enter the building. The signs list the boys’ avatar names as those who are permitted. The girls’ real-life names are displayed on the sign indicating who is not allowed to enter. I soon re-enable creative mode to allow me to float above the landscape, instead of having to climb up a hill block-by-block, looking from above for evidence of the players’ creations in the blocky landscape. Spotting a grey staircase in the side of the hillside I descend and enter through a doorway. Inside I find myself in a corridor, with a choice of two directions (a liminal space?) I turn left, then right and follow the corridor to find that both directions would have led to the same place. I see a sign I recognise ‘YoloFaces room of doom’.
I enter and find a closed chest and a crafting table in front of me. I try to jump over them but there isn’t space. There’s some purple sparkle moving about in the room that I recognise as some sort of eminence from a nether portal located beyond the obstacles. I turn and leave the room. This leads to a grey chamber with another crafting table at its centre, and a grand staircase – decorated with pumpkin heads – leading out to the outside world. I make my way down the stairs, across the courtyard and into another hole in the side of the hill. It’s a dead end so I head back the way I came. Again Freya addresses me: ‘Mr Bailey, what should I do?’ I dispense more rubbish advice (‘Shut the computer down and try again… or go and grab a different computer’).
I continue exploring, entering a dimly lit cave, past a skeleton with an arrow, and exit the other side. I turn to see a horse jumping on the hillside and again not wanting to climb I float up instead of climbing and move across the landscape, from above. I notice a tall, multi-storey structure I haven’t seen before but have heard the children discussing on a number of occasions. Again, I find it’s deserted as I climb to the top on a long ladder, past identical, undecorated rooms. From the top, I look down and then set off again, flying across the landscape. I spot the fenced pens of multicoloured sheep being tended to my Lisa at the periphery of the village and my feet meet with land again on top of a mountain where I find <Famalamlad> and <CBTekkersOP>.
After five minutes in the game, the first fieldnote I made today comes as I observe <CBTekkersOP> standing next to me, throwing meat from the top of a mountain. I see an apple meet the same fate. I’m surprised enough by this act to question his motive.
Ben: ‘Yeah, we’re just lobbing our inventories out’.
He explains that his inventory is full and he is trying to clear space for more useful items – this being his rather dramatic method of redistribution.
On my way down the mountain I’m approached – in the room – by Joe, asking me to gift him a horse. I go to the menu in the game and attempt to give each player a horse spawner. (At this point I miss the message that says ‘item not found’). I make my way back down the hill to the bottom and watch as <Milliemoo> searches for the pile of items that <CBTekkersOP> has dumped. I think I may have accidentally collected some but don’t mention this. I try to drop them from my inventory but can’t find them and give up.
Joe returns to tell me that my horse donation didn’t work. I try again and this time notice the ‘item not found’ message. I pause in the game to instruct one child to leave another child’s keyboard alone – he has accidentally given up some items that he didn’t mean to and is trying to commandeer the girl’s avatar to get them back. All in good humour, but I don’t want to risk any accidents involving technology. I suggest that the girl lets the boy have the iron blocks back as it was a mistake and she complies.
Back in the game I suggest that I meet Joe’s avatar and present him with the horse spawner in (virtual) person. I drop the egg-like horse spawning block on the floor and the foot of the stairs and am soon joined by <BBQBOY> who collects the items and spawns a horse in front of me.
Alerted by dramatic complaints of lagging from one player across the classroom I soon shut down my screen casting software (Quicktime) and leave the game in order to lighten the load on the server for the other players – my laptop doesn’t seem to be able to run applications alongside the server without some consequence for the children’s gameplay. I’ll later re-enter the game using one of the school laptops.