Why I Clash with Clash of Clans

“It has been an utter nightmare for me since he got that iPad…”

I’ll never forget these words during a parent meeting.   On so many levels, this parent was genuinely upset about her son having a self-managed iPad.  A part was because his device had seemingly taken over his whole life, both at school and at home.   Another part was due to the fact that this parent meeting was happening because her son had made some wrong choices regarding the use of his iPad.  But most importantly, it was because she didn’t understand how her son had made these bad choices in the first place.  And to be honest, neither did we.  How had an iPad game led her son to bully another boy in his class? Enter Clash of Clans.

Before I continue writing my thoughts on this (and that is all they are, my own personal thoughts), I would like to state that I have never played Clash of Clans.  When my students talk about it, it’s like they’re speaking another language.

The afore mentioned parent meeting was painful.  My student, who I will anonymously refer to as ‘Buddy’, had made the wrong choice of bullying a classmate because he hadn’t ‘played his part in defending his clan’.  From what I’ve read, Clash of Clans is a “…strategy game where, like many other strategy games out there, the purpose is to build one’s village, unlock different warriors, raid resources from other villages, create a clan and much, much more.” (Source https://clashofclans.wikia.com/wiki/Clash_of_Clans_Wiki).  So basically, it’s a strategy game which allows the players to collaborate with others to build a community which everyone is responsible of protecting.  Alright then.  So how can a collaborative game such as this cause reactions like this from its players? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t it promote collaboration and team work? And wait, isn’t this the same as any other team-based game?  Not really, here’s why.

Let’s take a friendly game of soccer.  There are two teams.  Both teams have great players and some who are still learning the game.  Kids can be hard on themselves and each other in this scenario as well.  They have captains who pick and choose their players.  They can get physical with the members of their own team that are not playing ‘as well’ as others.  And sure, there is usually unsportsmanlike conduct amongst players which both teachers and parents are all too familiar with and usually deal with very well.  So what’s the difference?  Well, in this soccer scenario, kids have to be present in order to be a part of the game.  They have to show up and be there physically for their skills to be taken into consideration by others.  The same goes with tag, Pictionary, and other games where actually being there during the moment of play is crucial to the team’s performance.  But in Clash, players can be in separate locations to play, and in order to protect their ‘villages’, they need all need to be online at the same time.  If a player is not online, his absence can be the catalyst for a ‘raid’ or ‘attack’.  In contrast to a soccer game where kids need so many factors to play: a field, a ball, parents who pick them off and drop them off, a uniform, cleats, etc; Clash only needs the iPad and player.

So here’s what happened.  Buddy claimed that “Their (imaginary) village got (imaginarily) raided by some (imaginary) enemies and IT WAS ALL HIS (the bullied boy’s) FAULT for, well, not being online when the rest of the group were…!!!” The reason the boy was not able to be online at the time of play was irrelevant, and it didn’t stop Buddy and his other Clash playing buddies to come down on their classmate hard for this.  So much for a community who protects their own, in real life, they were ready to throw one of their village members to the wolves.

I know what you’re thinking.  Why is Buddy, a grade 5 student, playing a game that he probably shouldn’t even have on his iPad in the first place? Why hasn’t his device been taken away from him and the game deleted from his iPad?  Why do grade 5 students (11-12 yrs old) have self managed iPads anyway??

I’m not an expert on this subject, but as our school is the first to try self-managed devices with our elementary school students, this is how I would answer those questions:  Because with self-managed devices, there will be some doors open for our learners that we want them to experience, and that has its ups and downs.  Because taking the device away will not teach them to make better choices, but rather take the choice away.  Because this is the world of the natives and they are learning from a completely set of mistakes than we did.

Even though the title of this post is why I clash with this game, I have to emphasize that I don’t think this case of cyberbullying was the game’s fault.  Whether we allow it or not, some of our students will play these games and in turn, make choices based on what they learn from them, good and bad.  We need to have preventative measures in place to avoid this behavior from students.  This doesn’t mean that all teachers should download Clash of Clans and play it in order to understand it.  It also doesn’t mean that all schools should have an iron-clad AUP before the devices are given to students.  And to be honest, our school is still working on these preventative measures.  This is a whole new ball game.  And I ‘clash’ with the game simply because I wish I knew how to better prepare my students when making choices based on playing these games.

I also want that prevention come in the form of empowerment for parents and teachers.  The words Buddy’s mom said in that parent meeting made a huge impact in the way that I see self-managed devices.  I want that these measures give us the confidence to be able to support our kids without having to know everything.  When a child is doing something on their devices we don’t understand, that we don’t hold the device responsible if bad choices are made from this use, but rather build on trust between us, our kids, their use of the devices, and their fellow device users.  And when I think about it, it’s like creating a village in Clash of Clans, the model of a community who counts on each other for the improvement of the group.  In this mentality, Clash and I don’t clash at all.

6 Replies to “Why I Clash with Clash of Clans”

  1. Hi Ceci,
    It’s very interesting to read your blog on ‘bullying’, as I’m still in search of the different kinds of cyber bullying that seems to make its way through the minds of our young digital natives, and what I’ve learned from your blog sends me an alert signal to this issue. True, we’ll never catch up with the fast growing modern self-managed devices exposed to the young minds. On the other hand, I kept thinking of the ‘Two C’s 10-90 Rule’ that John Merrow(author of ‘The Influence of Teachers’) mentioned in his book, where educators could assign creative projects to the students, in order to make them have the same kind of motivation & enthusiasm as when they’re playing on their self-managed devices.

  2. Wow, I was quite surprised about the fact that Buddy bullied him because he was not online. In my opinion the problem is a lack of understanding of respect. Respect that the other students chose to be offline, not too play or what ever.
    Interesting …

  3. An 8 year old child we know was exposed to a child predator while on the Clash of Clans iPad game, it was a 40 year old male who managed to obtain the child’s name, age, and full name of his school within 15 minutes while the child’s parents were preparing the child’s dinner.

  4. Glad to see parents interested in this game. Some parents are hands off in their kids gaming habits. I have been playing CoC for over a year and our adult only clan has grown tired of Global Chat, or as we call it the cesspool. There are some disturbing things going on within the chat room s. We have decided to try and get Supercell to take notice and do something to change this. We have started a campaign called Trash of Clans on facebook. We also operate a #TrashofClans on twitter. While I don’t like posting the stuff I see in game I want parents to know what is going on within the games their kids play.

  5. This is apparently a ‘free’ game that the kids can download and play. I don’t understand the whole set up but the kids seem to be busy building up their ‘fort’ or whatever and getting stuff like weapons and other things and getting ‘coins’. When they get enough ‘coins’ they can advance to a higher level which gives them more power (I think). THIS GAME IS A BAD!! It is NOT a good game for younger kids (age 8-10) because they can get so caught up in the game that being continuously attacked and frequently defeated is very hard on their psyches. If their ‘fort’ gets ‘attacked’ by other players they end up losing many or all of the ‘coins’ that they worked so hard to get. They can even get kicked out of the clan they’re in by other players.
    Apparently if they want to move up levels more quickly they can BUY ‘gems’. It requires REAL MONEY to buy ‘gems’. Yes that’s right – REAL MONEY! It’s a ‘free’ game but then suddenly, once a kid is hooked he finds he needs to pay to succeed in the game.This requires a credit card. My grandson has done this a few times (basically paying me with his allowance money and I pay online with my cc) before we put our feet down and said no more buying ‘gems’. Fortunately my grandson has usually asked to buy ‘gems’ BUT what about a kid who knows the password for the cc (used by parents when buying movies or music on iTunes) and just goes ahead and buys ‘gems’ on his/her own without the parent knowing?
    There are SO MANY LEVELS at which this game is BAD!! Tricking kids to paying real money when they thought the game was free! Potentially planting the seeds of a gambling addiction in the young and vulnerable! Showing kids that no matter how hard they work at building up their ‘base’ or ‘fort’ anyone can attack it and tear it down and take away all their coins anytime! Bullying by other players who say bad things or even kick a kid off the game or out of the clan!
    Today, after spending a lot of time working very hard at building up his supply of ‘coins’ (and he was so pleased and excited to be about to achieve the goal of moving up a level) my grandson came back to the game to find that other players had attacked his ‘fort’ and destroyed a lot of it and taken most of his coins. He had gathered almost 150,000 ‘coins’ and was left with about 200. Can you imagine how devastated he was? How frustrated? It would be like one of us adults almost finishing building a house or creating a painting or planting a garden, or writing a book, or finalizing a contract only to find the next morning someone had destroyed it all! IS THIS A GOOD THING?
    ‘CLASH OF CLANS’ is NOT a game ANYONE should be proud of having created!! Not when you crush young and vulnerable minds in this way!!

  6. I am a not found of this game my son was also playing it and
    Bullied a kid as well I think that “Clash ofClans” is not a game for 11- kids. Thanks

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