Live and Let Die (or, what you do when you’re home with pneumonia)

So I’m home sick on the day before we head out to Spring Break. If it was just a cough or fever, I would have gone in and taught my classes. Unfortunately, I have pneumonia and the wife forbade me to leave the house. (This is why married men live longer than single men.)

On my unexpected day off, I looked for ways to keep myself busy. I woke up at about 5:30am and composed some emails. I then realized that the NCAA tournament games would be on, but not until 10 or so. So I did what any responsible person would do to kill time…I played video games.

My favorite game to de-stress is Titanfall. It’s an old game at this point, but it still gets my adrenaline pumping. What’s more fun than piloting a machine and killing other players with high powered weaponry? It’s played totally online as a multiplayer so there must have been quite a few other people with pneumonia today because I didn’t wait long to get games going. While I ran around with my Sniper rifle, Spitfire, or Shotgun, I began to reflect on the lessons playing the game had taught me.

Don’t Fear the Reaper


When I first started playing, I was rather shy. My technique was to hide in buildings and avoid dying senselessly. My movement was calculated and I would consistently score the lowest on my team. This of course made me mad as I would have liked to be an asset and not a liability when working as a collaborative. I began to look very closely at the scores. It became apparent that even those that had died more often than I had, many times still scored higher.

My risk aversive behavior was not rewarded by the scoring matrix of the game. It was I will not dying as much as the other players, but I was not killing pilots, grunts, specters (robots), and Titans as often either. My fear was stopping me from advancement. My being ‘cautious’ stopped me from advancing.

Know Your Turf

The other disadvantage to playing maps online it that the first dozen times through you can’t really strategize because you have no idea what the maps actually look like. Other players will ambush you and use your ignorance to their advantage. By soldiering through this, and endearing the often painful blows to one’s ego, one begins to understand the WHERE that allows you to do the HOW. You begin to memorize the placement of walls, where other players will respawn, and which weapons to use in which situations. There is no shortcut to this information. It has to be played through to be realized and appreciated.

It is often this way during class. Students would like things to be explained to them that have to be experienced to be understood. This is why hands-on learning is so powerful. This is why field trips are so powerful. This is why speaking to one another is so powerful. Teachers are often in a hurry for students to “get it” rather than being patient with them and allowing them to make the connections necessary for successful. Often a period of patience in the beginning will allow a student to advance far more rapidly later on.

Don’t Playa Hate, Communicate


One of the things I had to do very quickly is get over myself. I didn’t really understand this until I was playing against a team that each had their mics turned on during the game. No one on my team had their mics “hot” and though mine was plugged in, I was silent as I didn’t want to embarrass myself. The team with the microphones DESTROYED us. They coordinated their attacks and isolated the players on my team. There was no way for use to combat this as we were all silent.

If you don’t work together in a tangible and authentic way, you can’t accomplish very much. That team kicked our butts 3 more times before we got wise to their strategy and began using our microphones. Many times, we feel weak when we ask for help and the need for collaboration is often interpreted as “I’m not good enough on my own.” We often wish to suffer rather than admit that a different point of view might be what’s need to be successful. I’ve never seen a team of Pilots not using mics defeat a team all using mics since I’ve been playing. There’s got to be something to that.

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