The Amazing Students from Spirit Lake

snowy road

Road to Warwick Public School

During the past few days, I had the opportunity to visit a couple of classrooms on and near the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation and observe their amazing students. We had a report that students were completing the games in half an hour. That didn’t seem possible. We’d had two professional gamers (people who actually play games on line and people pay to watch them) play the games and they each took an hour! We had two of our staff members play the games, and let it be noted since we do a lot of testing, they had each played the games 25 times or more. The both took close to an hour.

Clearly, there must be some problem with the installation at Warwick School, right? Since we take testing and customer support seriously, I drove down this snowy road to the school and the teacher was kind enough to let me observe in her classroom. Sure enough, her seventh grade student completed Spirit Lake: The Game in half an hour, getting every problem correct. There wasn’t anything wrong with the installation, he was just laser-focused in the game AND good at math. Usually it is shooting the rabid wolves and buffalo that takes some time. I asked him if he plays games a lot and he just shrugged and said, “Sometimes.” I forgot to ask him if he goes bow-hunting. Most people in the area use guns for hunting but I have met a couple of people who hunt with bows, like in the game, and the one person I watched play who was an avid bow-hunter did go through the wolves in nothing flat.  She was a teacher, though, and did not play through the whole game so I don’t know how long it would have taken her.

So, we will be sending Jason out a gift pack from 7 Generation Games, but I didn’t think some pens and pencils were quite enough so I am ordering some of our super-popular 7 Generation Games beanies and when we get our new supply will send one out to him as well.

And a second beanie goes to …

I always ask students if they have any ideas for our games. A fourth grade student from Tate Topa Elementary School asked me,

In Fish Lake, what if you could play as the fish? You could see your friend fish disappearing, being caught in the net, and go up to see what is going on and the game could be you trying to swim away before you get caught and you could win when the fish gets away to his home. You could do that as a demo game or bonus game.

Okay, that suggestion literally made me take a step back. Out of all the thousands of people who have played Fish Lake, not one of them ever thought of playing it from the fish’s perspective! Also, do fish actually have homes? If you are an ichthyologist, please answer in the comments.

Buy Fish Lake here (I haven’t added the fish’s point of view yet, since I’m still in North Dakota)

It was a good experience meeting with the students, as well as visiting Spirit Lake Vocational Rehabilitation Project. It made it worth getting my plane delayed overnight AGAIN, so I am writing this from my friend’s house in Minot instead of home in Santa Monica. Oh, well, at least she gave me a free dinner and lecture on Cree linguistics, so now I am both full and smarter.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *