Mediation of media literacy using the example of the computer game "Fire Department 2"
On April 6, 2005 Hortkinder the daycare Christrosenweg in Cologne Porz visited the Porzer fire station to gain knowledge and experience in the PC game "Fire Department 2" had to exchange with a real firefighter. In the interview, they questioned the relationship between simulation and reality.
The children’s daycare center Christrosenweg belongs to the KölnKitas gGmbH, which operates a total of 21 day care centers in Cologne as a non-profit organization. The day care center in Cologne-Porz, which was opened in 1996, consists of a small mixed-age group, two day-care centers and one after-school care group.
Media education has been a focus of our daycare center for many years. In cooperation with the "Computer project Cologne" For several years we have been involved in the pedagogical assessment of games and educational software. Since media competence can not be acquired exclusively by judging computer games, we offer the children the opportunity to critically compare content offers in the virtual game with real references in the everyday world. The example of the strategy game "Fire Department 2", that some of our children were testing with great interest, we did such a project. The in-game impressions on the subject of fire protection and fire brigade have prompted the children to check what happens in a real fire station. They also wanted to know if their images of firefighting operations, which they have mostly won only from movies, virtual games, etc., are in line with reality.
In advance, the children had extensively with the PC game "Fire Department 2", in which one must lead fire brigades through various fire missions, busy. Through the game, they learned a lot about fire safety and fire fighting. Curious as to whether the newly acquired knowledge can also be of use in real life, they arranged an appointment with the Porzer Fire Department for an interview. To underline their expert status, they prepared flashcards on which they collected the questions that interested them most.
Arriving at the fire station, they were greeted by a friendly firefighter who readily asked their questions. Before that, however, the children first unpacked a laptop to show the computer game to the firefighter. Already during the demonstration there were intensive discussions about operational situations in the game, which could not be implemented in real missions. "There you would never go in alone", or "You have to imagine that in reality everything would be dark and full of smoke", the expert commented.
Inspired by the knowledge that the boys and girls gathered in the computer game about the different fire engines, the fire-fighter expert showed the children the garage of the fire station, in which they could compare the different emergency vehicles with the vehicles learned in the game.
In order to demonstrate how exhausting an actual use can be in preparation, the children were even allowed to try out the heavy work clothes of the firefighters.
Thus, the planned 1.5 hours went by in the air and since some questions were not yet cleared, another visit was agreed in the near future.
In conclusion, the fireman judged that although the computer game is not always realistic, he would be amazed at the great interest it had in the children for firefighting and how much basic knowledge the children would have learned about the game.
For the girls and boys, visiting a real fire brigade headquarters, interviewing a firefighter and comparing them to the computer game was an exciting, exciting and informative experience. Had they now got an idea of how exhausting and dangerous the profession of a firefighter is in reality? Also, they have the experience that in the computer game taught knowledge does not necessarily have to coincide with reality.
The children were visibly affected when the fire expert reported on his experiences from missions where people were in danger: "When children are in danger, these are always the worst moments for me!"
For this, the children found it almost relieving that they may look into the world of adults in the virtual game, but ultimately the events occurring there remain without consequences. "Phew, I’m glad that something really can not happen in the computer game", was the unanimous realization.
(The author of this project report, Christoph Koelick, works since 1996 as an educator in the day-care center of the day care center.)
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