Performance Anxiety in the Classroom

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April 23, 2013 by pitak22

  There’s this strange sensation you feel when you’re being watched by a sea (or in our class’s case,  a…trickling stream?) of slightly unfamiliar faces.  The key word in the latter phrase is “slightly” because, for some, complete anonymity affords a sort of freedom to do whatever it is you’re doing, whether performing “Our Town” in front an audience of a hundred or pirouetting through a routine from Swan Lake in front of five hundred unknown faces.  Or on the other hand, if you’re playing Smash Bros.  with a group of close friends, there may lie a competitive spirit among the group or one of playful comradery.  Your body either relaxes from this familiarity or tenses with the optimal sense of urgency .  However, what happens when you are in a situation that  places you right in the middle of this spectrum of familiarity versus unfamiliarity?

  From my experience of playing video games during our lab,  I feel a level of discomfort. If I’m good, I don’t want to show too much excitement because it would be the equivalent being the only one to catch the Holy Spirit during a Catholic Mass. And some times I don’t play as hard as I could because a majority of the games and consoles present a completely new experience. If I find the game challenging, I don’t put in much effort to succeed, because if I fail, I rather fail quickly and slowly fade into the background than become emotionally invested. Emotionally invested. Two concepts that require certain kind of intimacy or apathy to either completely embrace and display or avoid.

  Now before I go off on a tangent, to connect all of this emotional “stuff” to a theory we learned in class, I wonder how a limbo such as,I suppose I can call it third eye fright,  affects a player’s submergence into the magic circle? Does it? If I recall correctly, (which I do because I have my notes. I’m just trying to be colloquial.) the magic  circle is a “space” in which a player’s actions do not affect the “real” world.  However,  perhaps  the “third eye fright”  bleeds through into the magic circle.  I’d like to isolate third eye fright purely to the discomfort of being watched because that  is the contamination that ripples throughout the body and into the virtual realm of game play.  However, it is difficult to prescribe what environmental factors are contaminating or a natural part of the holistic game play experience.  So, in this case, I will argue that the type of environment within the classroom setting is unnatural, thus contaminating, at least to certain sensitive individuals.  I say unnatural because the main purpose of a video game is to be played for entertainment. Analytical assessment for the sake of academic progression is secondary, if not reactionary, to the effectiveness of the main purpose.  And if these sensitive students are unfamiliar to XBOX, Playstation, Wii, or whatever spiffy new console the big names birthed that year, their actual interaction with the game during a class may be artificial in comparison to if they were to play in a less intimidating setting.  Therefore, the data reported during the lab would be slightly to moderately inaccurate, thus tainting the attainment of the  session’s academic goals.

   Ironically, because of the unnatural setting, our labs,  in a sense, reflect the active media method of study, a school of theory that we have heavily critiqued.  However, since a percentage of us are game players outside of the classroom, and we don’t have as single-noted intentions to disprove the validity of video games, the sessions also contain characteristics of the  active user method.

  So, I suppose the question is are our class sessions trapped in a limbo between active media and active user methods, or have we found a happy medium that makes video game study accessible to the undergraduate level of study? I support to the latter.  Some empirical research just cannot feasibly be done in a natural setting.  Considering our labs only meet once a week for two hours and everyone’s schedules are so varied, it would be difficult to formulate a setting that contains whatever components each student feels a natural setting should possess.  Unfortunately, those with third eye fright will just have to learn to ‘deal’ or take a more active role as secondary players.


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