I was thinking about mark5000’s recent post on beginners, and generally about the problems arising from people trying to jump right into Go without really knowing what’s going on, and an idea popped into my head: what if we had a “request teaching game” option in game creation?
Users selecting this option would be added to a “teaching game requests” queue on the game request page. Players of a certain minimum strength (maybe 5 ranks above the new player, or 15k for new accounts), could accept a teaching game request and play an unranked game in which they could share variants with the new player, and generally chat with them about their moves. Ideally, this’d give new players an opportunity to learn the game with someone that’s ready to teach, rather than whoever pops up in automatch, and pair them with someone that’s going to be reasonable in dealing with beginner problems, like not knowing how to score or when a game is over. More experienced players could also request teaching games in order to work on their game with someone stronger. Ideally, there’d also be a “preferred language” drop down when creating teaching games, since being able to chat with your teacher/student is a great aid for learning, and not everyone speaks English.
Most of this is available, of course, in a custom match, but explicitly calling a teaching game what it is might make experienced players more likely to accept. I know that I, personally, don’t usually go into challenges with someone more than three ranks below me, even if they’re unranked, because I figure they want a competitive game, not a potentially instructive loss.
That, too, is a great idea.
I, as a low-level player myself, know how sucky it is to lose and not know why. I try to be courteous in my games with other players lower than me, possibly beginners, and in turn I (sort of) expect the same from people above me. I haven’t been disappointed yet.
I do think there should be a place where new players can go to learn from people who are still learning themselves, who in turn learn from those above them. Maybe even a dedicated mentor system- where you make friends with, get to know, and grow alongside a player who’s slightly better than you- might be in order? I know I for one would love to attend a class or a seminar on Go and strategies, but sadly I’m not in the right location or culture for it, so I make do by playing and watching. To have someone, or a community of someones, to support, teach, and help me would basically be utopia, and I’ve been playing off and on for three years, using multiple accounts. How much more would someone who’s played all of three stones appreciate that?
I am absolutely all for this, but the question arises, who would? I don’t know if the higher level players (i.e. ~7k or above) would be willing to teach people, although I hope they are. I myself would volunteer, but I’m not exactly the smoothest Go stone in the bowl. We’d need to rally as a community, not just one or two users.
As much as I would like to applaud this idea, there are plenty of unused training materials around. Before we ask anoek to build new mechanics in place we should invest more time to promoting available materials.
Throwing new players into complicated teacher/student relationship is also a little risky. There’s no magic dust that can be applied. In the beginning it’s most important to keep the motivation high and let the game sink in. The best we can do is to create safe, inviting, growth driven environment.
One concern I have about this idea is that it’s too specialised and handcrafted. Consider for example game/request labelling/filtering - it’s essentially the same thing, but without the constrain of teaching games only. The effort required is just slightly bigger, but in the end gives a lot of flexibility to managing game requests. You can think of many useful labels:
- let’s chat
- discuss after game
- looking for teacher
- looking for student
- for fun, etc.
What do you think?
I’d like to bring back one of my (many great) ideas and say we could reward players who do play teaching games by adding a badge to their name or an awesome-meter or a green/blue diamond instead of the orange dot supporters get. That way people will be able to spot long-time teachers from a mile away and I’d wager more people would be willing to teach.
If we make it a vetting process as it is on KGS we should be able to guarantee quality. Maybe we could similarly require that part of the vetting process is to be a site supporter.
I like what you said, that “Throwing new players into complicated teacher/student relationships is also a little risky”. I think having one teacher is a bit of a problem, seeing as individual input can vary greatly between players. As a community, as you’ve said with your comment about environment, is the only way to go about this.
The label idea is good as well. I do think, as @ckersch88 mentioned, that there should be language filters as well, because Go is a multi-culturally appreciated game, with many players speaking many languages.
For the bage/diamond and the teaching game queue, work on the bagend is needed. For those we have to wait till anoek has time to implement them.
What do you think about a prominent placed link to the forum with “You feel lost or want to improve. Come in our forum to ask there for a teaching game”?
Changes to the front-end can easily be done by anyone familiar with it.
I’m doing a reasonable amount of teaching right now. There are many things that I would like to see that would improve the place for teaching (there’s a thread about it somewhere).
Just being able to label games as teaching and have that searchable and filterable in a person’s game history would be great. I don’t think more is needed (IE a “teaching games section” is not needed).
I don’t think “request a teaching game” is needed in the actual game request mechanics, because people requesting teaching games in the forum are extremely well served, and the types of teaching game that suit each teacher and person are unique.
A pointer to “if you want a teaching game post here” might be a good idea though.