Thursday, February 26, 2009

March Blog Carnival -video games

I've fallen off the blogwagon, good grief! Its been months. Happily there's a blog carnival to inspire me.

I had an aha moment this morning, watching Morgan play. She was playing a video game while also creating one of her paper sculptures (this one looked like a robot dragon, but she said it wasn't and didn't seem interested in explaining). Its the sort of scene that runs utterly contrary to what one thinks (what I think, anyway) when someone says: playing video games - you know, the sort of rapt attention thing. Mo does that, but she also does something else, she multitasks while playing a video game. To do that, she has to keep pausing the game, but otherwise it reminds me a lot of the way she used to watch tv, back when we still had the dish. Sometimes she was all about watching, but more often, she just seemed to need the background and(here's the aha part) its not background noise she wants, its background imagery and, most of all movement. Ahhhhhhhhh.

That fits so well with the rest of her personality. When she's not making, making, making things, she's racing around at full speed - charging through the house, careening around the yard, bouncing and twisting and spinning around on the trampoline. I've heard more than once (although I've no sources for this other than "I've heard" so it may be one of those things "people say") that humans in general and kids in particular need a certain amount of movement in the visual field on a regular basis - it does something nice to our brains, its good for us, or maybe we're just wired to process a certain amount of movement and the circuitry goes wiggy when its not regularly stimulated. Whatever. There's some dispute over whether movement per se is sufficient, or movement in three dimensions is preferred (its amazing to me how much information is floating around in my head with no sources attached - where do I get this stuff?)

At any rate, whether this is something people in general need, or just something Morgan needs, she has figured out how to fill her "background" with motion while she's doing something comparatively still (the term sedentary really doesn't apply to Mo). Its interesting to see what she likes -interesting to me, anyway. She likes rapid movement, lots of changes in direction, even jerkiness is fine with her. Her favorite game, in fact, is an Ed, Edd, and Eddy game, which is excruciatingly difficult to control. "The Eds" don't walk or run so much as careen madly around the screen. I guess its familiar to Mo.

In addition to her Eds game and a few others, Morgan has been playing around with some 3d programming software called "Alice" for making simple animated movies and games. Its a free download (well, free for 40 days and then you can buy the graphics program, the Alice part is free-free) if you're interested. It works on a simple drag and drop format. The code is already pre-chunked (I don't know the technical terms) into meaningful parts like "turn left" and "take step" and there are some basic forms ready to use. No licensed characters, much to Mo's chagrin, but there are some cute furry animals, so she's made some movies with those. Unfortunately, they're in a format I can't figure out how to upload! The pic at the start is one of her game-concepts, though. That's Cat Morgan (notice the very long, sharp claws) saving the undersea world of Bikini Bottom.