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I told Daniel I would come home to spend time with him after school today, because Charlie said he was going downtown with friends. When I got home, I found that Charlie was here with his friends, so Daniel has spurned me to hang out with the older boys. I'll be big about it.

The newest clue in Find the Lost Ring is the discovery of documents in Esperanto. I had been a bit worried that Esperanto would be only a red herring, but instead it looks to be a central piece of the game. In fact, I wonder if one of the goals isn't to build communities working in 6 different languages that want to communicate with each other so much that they'll be willing to learn Esperanto in order to do it. It would be really cool if it turns out that this is one of the design goals of the game.

I've been reading about the creator of the game, Jane McGonigal. Over the past couple of years, I had become aware of "alternate reality games", which provide huge puzzles and encourage people to self-assemble across "teh internets" to solve them. McGonigal is one of the pioneers of this form of media. She says "reality is broken", meaning that life kinda sucks for a lot of people, and talks about most of us being (or needing to be) in the "happiness business". She envisions a future in which people enjoy doing the work they do and life providing people will a lot more options to do satisfying work organized like play -- so that it will be more satisfying and make people happy. I'm seeing this is highly analogous of the projects and problem-solving we are asking students to do in our classes. And I'll bet we could do a better job, using the kinds of principles she's identifying, that could make our classes way more fun. She gave a talk yesterday at SXSW that lists 10. Here are the slides from a previous talk with some of the same info.

I'm not sure what my response is to this stuff is yet. I suspect that most traditional instructors and faculty will say that "games are silly and what I do is serious" and dismiss this stuff. But I think this is the direction things are going and these games and principles are likely to be increasingly important over the next 5 years. It's something to talk about.