I arrived near the Jade Forest the day after World of Warcraft (WoW) launched its latest expansion, Mists of Pandaria. The graphics, non-player characters, storyline, and quests are impressive. There are dashes of wisdom too. For example, after I picked up a quest, Master Windfur said, “May you find mastery in your passions.” Nice. In my role as Mage Lotus, I recently used that closer (with attribution to Windfur) in a message to Murr, an avatar in my game-based learning course called SuperPhi.
Murr is modeled on Spielberg’s E.T. She stumbled on Philand during her intergalactic travels; stranded here, her ultimate goal is to go home, but fortunately she’s agreed to help with the Phiers’ missions while waiting for rescue. The other avatars are humanoids. For example, there’s Catori, a member of the Hopi nation who has the power to use earth elements to heal; Amy, an optimistic nurse who wants world peace; Branhammer, part dragon and part warrior, who distrusts institutions, especially political ones; Midnight, a crime fighter who says he “sees the worst in people”; and Tabitha, a confident young leader modeled on a Second Life avatar, with the Sage archetype. In preparing students to create avatars, we discussed heroic archetypes after they took the online Hero Archetype Test, based on Carol Pearson’s Awakening the Heroes Within. Their characters seem to be developing well.
But the Philand storyline needs more oomph. Philand is a very heady place – strong on intellect, spirit, and mastery but weak on spellpower, i.e., on the ability of the narrative to more fully engage us in the epic work of improving the quality of our social-political lives. In an effort to have the avatars contribute to the development of a vibrant narrative, today I emailed Phiers a “Pop Bonus Quest,” with the deadline several hours before our next weekly class on Wednesday afternoon. Those who complete the quest will receive XP to help them level up faster; completion will also unlock an achievement.
Instructions for the Pop Bonus Quest go like this:
Using found images or your own drawing or even verbal description, make a map of the known territory of Philand by doing the following:
- Locate and name the fortressed capital city (our sanctuary)
- Layout and name three regions outside the capital city
- Each of the three regions have bad guys/creatures representing dangerous human qualities. Name and describe the three bad-guy factions (images are optional)
We may incorporate your mapped ideas when determining together Philand’s makeup.
I don’t know if any of the avatars will seize the quest and run with it. They do stay pretty busy with philosophy-based mission quests (e.g., understanding and examining the social and political perspectives of “giants” like Aristotle, Mencius, Mill, Locke, Rousseau, Plato, and Rawls – which will take us through Mission 3 of 5); with the Explorer Profession for examining ideas and opportunities in Jane McGonigal’s Reality Is Broken and later in our alternative reality game, “Poverty Is Not a Game”; and with the development of their individual secondary professions. But I think several will. We’ll see.
Go with honor. Go in peace.