I suffer from craaaazy summertime depression after school gets out. This past summer, I committed to “Operation Just Get Dressed,” which helped ensure I at least put real clothing on instead of hanging out in pajamas all day. Part of the reason I was motivated to actually get dressed was because I was streaming Crypt of the Necrodancer for about an hour almost every day. (I definitely try to keep my stream age-appropriate, but a few salty comments made it through, if you watch any of my past broadcast videos.)
Streaming Necrodancer was great. I met rad people, got a manageable amount of tips from watchers, and learned a lot about the world of streaming. Also, despite my deep concern regarding treatment of women online, I encountered genuinely friendly folks who were looking to talk about a shared interest.
So now school’s back in session. I’ve felt the pull of my depression pretty strongly in the past week or so, so I decided to head back onto Twitch. But I’d recently started playing Hearthstone, a collectable card game (think Pokeman or Magic: The Gathering) set in the World of Warcraft universe.
I spoke earlier this year at the Nerdy Book Club blog about how learning video games has given me a lot to think about as a teacher, and starting to stream Hearthstone has expanded my thinking even more. Here are a few initial meditations:
Stick to one teaching point. THIS was my biggest takeaway from last night’s stream. I’m new to Hearthstone, and although I’m not totally opposed to backseat gaming (receiving suggestions on gameplay from folks in your Twitch chat), it quickly became VERY overwhelming when even a half dozen folks began offering tips. Even more confusing (and this was CRITICAL for me to realize as a teacher), some of their suggestions made absolutely no sense. I didn’t have enough knowledge of the basic game itself to be able to apply their nuanced ideas.
Some knowledge transfers. I quickly understood the mechanics of Hearthstone because of my experience casually playing Magic on and off for the past decade or so.
But some of it doesn’t. Strategies I’d often use in Magic (such as getting low-cost creatures out on the board early in the game) would totally blow up in my face in Hearthstone.
And that can be okay! I rarely play blue decks in Magic because there are often a lot of spells and counterspells (instead of creatures). But in Hearthstone, I’m comfortable playing either creature-heavy decks or spell-focused decks.
Background knowledge is essential, not just a smart instructional add-on… The information I transferred over from my experience playing Magic only took me so far. It was time for me to start running searches for how to build basic decks. (I had been using the default decks up to this point)
…But limit your resources. This is why webquests can be so powerful in classrooms. If you run a search for “basic Mage Hearthstone deck,” you get 1.5 million results.
That’s insane. But I then asked my chatroom how reliable the website Icy Veins was. Upon learning that it wouldn’t lead me too far astray, I began looking through their resources. Am I going to build the best deck EVER? No way, but it’s a lot easier for me to manage that information using one website instead of getting totally overwhelmed on a forum.
Bragging isn’t helpful. Yup, just like we tell our kids when they start comparing test scores. It was thoroughly unproductive when a lad in chat pointed out he could kill my opponent in two turns. It didn’t help me at all. It didn’t inspire me to do better. It didn’t make me want to improve my knowledge of the game so I’d be more equipped to win in the future. It was in NO WAY motivating. But it DID make me stressed out. Even though I knew it was unreasonable stress and this was something I was doing by choice and who the heck did this guy think he is anyway? That cortisol started coursing through my veins. (my icy veins?)
Let it goooooooo. Luckily, I was able to let go of that stress pretty quickly, but I imagine that was because I had mentally prepared myself to receive some snarky/sexist/unhelpful comments. Hearthstone is a much more popular game than Necrodancer is, so it stands to reason that I’d encounter more trolls and unsavory folks overall. We’ll see how things go in subsequent streams, because if people wind up being persistently jerks, I’ll just stick to indie streaming.
Lots more on my mind, but if I kept going, this would never get posted. Thanks for reading, and see you on Twitch!