Coming in From the Cold...and Fighting the Dragons Along the Way

I’ve been in a blogging drought as of late, with only one post last week. Maybe it’s too cold, maybe I’m lazy and even though I’ve had stuff going (LOEX) and ideas running around, but I just couldn’t get them out. Part of the reason for the drought was my single minded determination to complete Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS.

I had started the game at the end of December, but was just picking away at it. Last week I got to the final section and died making my way through the final castle. I first I was frustrated since I was able to handle most other enemies, but the dragons killed me (granted I’ve since found out that they are as powerful as some of the final boss battles). While the game through up high levels of challenge every now and again, I really asked myself if it was worth continuing playing. While I enjoyed the gameplay (it’s a classic turn-based RolePlaying Game), the narrative is incredibly weak. But I enjoyed playing and felt enough of a connection to my characters to spend the next few days leveling up my party. After finally winning a battle against one dragon, I felt ready to tackle the end game. The final areas in the game were easy compared to my “dragon hurdle” and I breezed through the remainder of the game.

While I’d love to ramble on about the old-school RPG fun I had, I’m telling this story for a reason… my frustration, determination and success were not that different to what I see students go through on research projects. The overwhelming hurdles, the idea to give up and call it “good enough” and the rewarding feeling of success fall right in line with a challenging paper. The more I’ve thought about it, I’ve realized that the reasons I stuck with the game could be useful in helping us get students to stick with assignments.

What kept me coming back…

- Intuitive interface: Not only knowing how to navigate, but wanting to navigate as well; if only students would say the same about our catalogs and databases; I felt I could be successful because I knew the overall game system, without that sense of confidence giving up would have come easier

- Personal investment: I cared about these characters, not enough to actually create an emotional connection, but enough to want to know what happens; The game used a customizable character system that made me more involved with each character since I spent time developing their skill sets; Customization, plain and simple; A piece of the game/project/search was mine since I was able to customize it; Systems with customization could provide some of that same sense of attachment

- Determination & Accomplishment: My personal resolve to see it through, might be because I'm stubborn, but it's also because I wanted that sense of accomplishment; our students are not any different - I've spent time at reference coaching students through a tough paper and helping convince them that they could do it and that it is worth pushing through; A little coaching now and again is needed, we all need some help with our egos now and again; If we can not only help foster that determination, but encourage it along the way our students will be better off

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