Thursday, March 01, 2007

Spelling Motivation

The problem with most educational tools that are designed to help your spelling is that that they simply don’t have enough violence in them. We recently bought the spelling game Bookworm Adventures, and I am happy to report that they have addressed this glaring deficiency. In Bookworm, you are given 16 random letters, and when you correctly spell a word, the nerdy hero bookworm gets to whack some nasty monster into submission. If that isn’t motivation to spell a really long, cool word, I don’t know what is.

In all seriousness, I was initially appalled that spelling was being reduced to violence in this way. Why can’t they give flowers to the monster, and have his malicious facade melt into a nice butterfly or a happy smiley guy? I suppose no one would buy the game if it were that wussy.

Worse yet, this game is addictive, and even, dare I say it, family friendly. Our nice Mennonite family often gathers around the computer in the evening, shouting out helpful suggestions for the longest possible word we can spell, to inflict the maximum amount of firepower on the evil monster. And worse yet, our kids are becoming pretty good spellers because of it.

The thing is, it is perfectly fine to slay specters or seven headed hydras that will kill you (or your little alter ego of a computer nerd bookworm). Seven headed hydras are, as far as I know, completely evil, and that of God does not shine within them. The problem, though, is that there are no seven headed hydras in the real world. Just messy, complicated human beings, all of whom are flawed and yet retain some redeemable quality somewhere, a place in their soul where God can shine a light and start healing. All too often, and especially since 9/11, I’ve seen too many people unable to differentiate between evil hydras and, say, Muslims, or Immigrants, or Americans.


Anonymous said...

Well, at least it's not "Typing of the Dead", although you know that's coming next

snarkbutt said...

Give the monster flowers?!? Unless that's a prelude to making sweet love to the monster (another issue that parents are squeamish about), I'm falling asleep just imagining such a game.

Maybe the worm could give the monster ritalin, which makes him sit obediently in a chair.

Dan S said...

The whole ritalin thing would only be interesting to gamers if it were administered via dart gun or dart cannon.

Fingtree said...

This country is enamored with war and violence. We embrace the history of the war's fought since our inception. Violence in one form or another seems to catch people's attention. This day and age of instant gratification, instant justice, instant cures (ritalin), instant this and that, the attention span of the people have diminished. I guess one bright spot to note of this game you mentioned is; We learn to be violent or to kill intellectually. As opposed to primitive violence born of ignorance.

Anonymous said...

I used to play a version of Bookworm online -- the only violence involved was that the tiles burned up when you connected them to form a word. (It wasn't exactly the same version that you're talking about -- there was no monster -- but I recognized the bookworm character.) I guess setting Scrabble tiles on fire wasn't cool enough for today's kids.