Tuesday, January 10

SimWord of the Day: Hero

Hero is a very tricky word in the formal learning industries.

In most computer games, you play the unique hero - the person who has the power to save the day, or at least make all of the decisions.

In classic mythology, heroes live apart from the rest of society, having special responsibilities and getting special perks.

In Joseph Cambell's take on things, we can take little heroic actions every day.

In massively multiplayer online role playing games, we see the emergence of a band of heroes, groups of equals coming together to go on some quest.

The role of "a hero" is challenging in educational simulations.

Most of us want to be heroes, although some want it more than others.

Should HR departments train people to be heroes? Heroes often break rules, something that every centralized department hates. And as Joss Wheaton in the movie "Serenity" wrote, "heroes are people that get other people killed."

Yet, Len Vickers, the marketing guru behind GE's "we bring good things to life" and Xerox' "The Document Company," told me that the best sales people took advantage of vendor loop holes for the advantage of the customer, heroic in some self-serving way. Every good organization rewards heroes with praise.

Finally, logistically, programming the user to be a hero in an educational simulation feels funny. Do you give your player the most power to make a difference? If yes, the sim feels false. If no, the sim is unsatisfying.

I guess the paradox today is that HR has to teach people the rules, and then promote those that break them successfully.

1 comment:

Darius said...

Hi Clark,

I think you need to expand a bit more what Joseph Cambell's "hero" must do. He is someone who must go through trials (succeeding at some, failing others). He gathers friends over time by his character and service. He continuously improves his personal character traits and his mental representation of how the world works. He asks for help. He

The "trickster" is just one face of the hero's thousand faces. It's just the most popular American media type of hero.

Does corporate training need "tragic heroes" too? Just curious.

"We all truly believe we are the heroes in our own personal lives." (That's why watching surrogate heroes works for us.)