People debate whether video games can train people to be better soldiers and worse drivers in real life. How narrow their imaginations! Let us explore this idea that games can make us better at games. Visualise a jumping game that makes you better at Super Mario. Picture a finger-sliding game that lets you improve your Angry Birds skills.
You should try HealBot, an iOS game that is supposed to make you better at World of Warcraft. Specifically, according to the Trip Hop Clan, the people who made it: “HealBot 1.0 lets you practice the WoW healing mechanic anywhere you have your iPhone or iPad — no need to be anywhere near your computer.”
Right on. I don’t even play World of Warcraft, yet I can now get better at playing World of Warcraft. The game is simple. You are show six health bars. The top one belongs to an unseen enemy boss character. The botom one is for you, the healer. The middle four are for your allies: a tank, two a melee fighter and two ranged fighters. These bars slowly lose health, as chronicled in a damage log that scrolls at the bottom of the screen. The only thing you can do is pick which member of your party to heal and cast one of three spells on them to heal them. Then wait. Let more damage dent the party. Heal them more. Keep doing it until the boss dies. (By default, you lose if one of your party members dies.)
The theory is that this makes you a better WoW player, and like most training courses you can’t expect it to be that fun. But intentionally or not, HealBot does something wonderful. It compels its player to imagine a WoW battle in their mind. I can’t see a boss health bar taking damage without imagining some excellent gargoyle of an enemy. I can’t see my tank lose half his health without imagining some massive, damaging blow knocking him down. In other words, I can’t help but visualise an amazing version of World of Warcraft in my mind — the best-looking World of Warcraft I’ve ever imagined.
HealBot winds up doing what great text adventures do. It eschews the graphics of the screen to delightfully trigger the graphics of the mind. I don’t think that was the Trip Hop Clan’s intent, but since when did we only care about intent? Give the free HealBot a shot and see what type of WoW you can see.