We’ve just finished reading The Hobbit and I’ve been trying to place it in some kind of context for the kids. This book is one that some kids love and profess their need to read the entire Lord of the Rings series immediately afterward, and others swear they will never read a piece of fantastic literature again.
On Friday, I brought a multimedia projector into my classroom and we spent about 45 minutes looking at places like There.com, Second Life, screenshots from the World of Warcraft and Everquest games. We also talked about the auctions of "stuff" from virtual worlds on sites such as Ebay, the phenomena of Harry Potter, and how video games, movies, and novels are coming together.
We made T-charts with fantasy on one side and reality on the other, and the kids took a virtual world of their choosing (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Zelda, etc., etc.) and filled it in with all of the elements from the virtual world they were examining. They came up with interesting observations of how the creators of these worlds either use a setting and objects that are fantasy, or characters that are; they rarely have both.
As we talked about virtual environments, they were very interested in opportunities to talk with, and be with people from around the globe in a virtual space. Coming from a small town, most of these kids were very interested in how they could contact, interact with, and be with people from around the globe in these electronic spaces. I was totally swept in to the conversation, thinking of all of the Neal Stephenson and William Gibson novels I’ve read over the last several years.
It was an interesting class, and an interesting discussion. A glimpse of the future.