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Vertical Horizon - Everything You Want

I have long debates with people over learning styles. It starts with someone asking to get into PvP normally and ends with me being steamrolled by a larger group when I suggest that the person do the mentor thing or learn some basics before going out and trying. Often I'm clobbered with, "Lose 100 ships then go and lose 100 more, it's the only way to learn how to do it."

Eve is a game. It is a serious game of internet spaceships but it is a game. I'm laying that out there to dilute the weird looks I will get from some. Anyway, Eve is a game. However, it is a game that involves a lot of learning. Arguments over the steepness of the learning curve aside, it is a game that is attractive to adults. Yes, I know that there are various younger elements aside but CCP has published the average user age more than once and the players discuss it as well. The most recent I have found was the average user age for people that voted for the current CSM.

Not everyone learns the same. Adults tend to learn in particular ways. Some people only learn by failing. I've met many of them. I'm rather incompatible with them in general. I learn by education and then experience. Experience without education in terms of things like a video game (not being chased by wolves with honey on my knees) does not work for me.

A quick search hits on 5 Principles for the Teacher of Adults. There are many deeper sites and papers that can also be read. I find it interesting stuff in general.

Malcolm Knowles, a pioneer in the study of adult learning, observed that adults learn best when:

1 - They understand why something is important to know or do.
2 - They have the freedom to learn in their own way.
3 - Learning is experiential.
4 - The time is right for them to learn.
6 - The process is positive and encouraging.

I'll hone in on point number two because I feel it carries a lot of weight. To copy from the article referenced above:

Principle 2: Respect that Your Students Have Different Learning Styles

There are three general learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

Visual learners rely on pictures. They love graphs, diagrams, and illustrations. “Show me,” is their motto. They often sit in the front of the classroom to avoid visual obstructions and to watch you, the teacher. They want to know what the subject looks like. You can best communicate with them by providing handouts, writing on the white board, and using phrases like, “Do you see how this works?”

Auditory learners listen carefully to all sounds associated with the learning. “Tell me,” is their motto. They will pay close attention to the sound of your voice and all of its subtle messages, and they will actively participate in discussions. You can best communicate with them by speaking clearly, asking questions, and using phrases like, “How does that sound to you?”

Kinesthetic learners need to physically do something to understand it. Their motto is “Let me do it.” They trust their feelings and emotions about what they’re learning and how you’re teaching it. They want to actually touch what they’re learning. They are the ones who will get up and help you with role playing. You can best communicate with them by involving volunteers, allowing them to practice what they’re learning, and using phrases like, “How do you feel about that?”

I'm a visual learner. For me, learning is the absorption of information. I read, I search, I research, I read some more, I fill a pool with knowledge. I may not be able to effectively use that knowledge but I have it. When I start doing the pieces will fall together.

Compare that to someone who is a kinesthetic learner. The type that must do to learn. Convert it to Eve. There is a vocal majority that says, "Get 100 ships and lose them all" to learn PvP. For me, that would be 100 loses and I would learn that I was terrible at Eve and should quit. Without having been taught first, the value of doing is elusive to me.

How silly for a video game? Not really. At least, not to me. If the game was a very linier thing, perhaps. However, have you ever seen a game strategy guide? Learning a game inside out isnt a strange or novel concept.

If internet spaceships is serious business, learning them is as well. If knowledge wasn't important the web would not be flooded with wikis, guides, blogs and forums full of information. We'd all just bump into everything until we figured it out. Hopefully we'd figure out how to fit against specific mission rats for a more effective mission. After all, its not like Eve doesn't have its very own website with every mission broken down.

So, when that advice comes up, I argue it. I don't invalidate it. I simply suggest that there are other ways out there, especially if the person seems loathe to just go out and fail. Because, for some, learning through doing equates to failing. Failure discourages people and the game does not grow.

Especially here, in a game composed of people often seeking some type of release from the day to day. I don't expect the win the argument. The kinesthetic leaner are often a very loud group. I do hope that I give someone the idea that there is another way to learn that they may be more comfortable with and that its okay.


  1. The most important thing that someone can know is how they learn and how they can exploit that method of learning.

    Unfortunately for me I learn by doing or auditory, and guess which method is more available to me in a game? And even if I hate it about myself I can pretty much bet that I'll make EVERY POSSIBLE MISTAKE! at least once, on the up-side I'll usually only make it once. :)


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