• Three More Half-Baked Ideas

    Hi campers! I just proposed a session about ARG design but I have a few more ideas for sessions, or at least stuff I’d like to talk about, so I’ll copy our excellent organizer Amanda Visconti and toss out a few more ideas, even less baked than the usual THATCamp session proposal:

    Learning from the Tabletop
    My own play has been mostly non-digital lately: board games, tabletop RPGs, make-believe with my kids. When I applied for THATCamp Games, I was a bit worried I’d be the only one in the room not au fait with Skyrim or Deus Ex 3. Looking at the session proposals so far, I think I needn’t have worried – there seems to be a healthy interest in “analog” games, tabletop games, what have you. So I don’t know if this needs to be a discrete session, but I’m always happy to talk about tabletop games (board games, war games, RPGs), their history, their place in the classroom, their relationship to digital games (I’ve always loved Matthew Kirschenbaum’s description of war games as “paper computers”). Over the last few years, some indie tabletop RPGs–it seems funny to take a niche as tiny and marginalized as tabletop RPGs and calve off an even tinier, more marginalized section of it as “indie,” but there you are–have done some interesting things with collaborative narrative construction. But that’s just one example. There are many things, I think, that digital games, gamers, and educators can learn from cardboard and paper, spinners and dice.

    Toys, Not Games
    Really, I should say, “Toys, Not Just Games.” Because I love games. But do we limit ourselves if we assume that play = games, in other words structured, rule-driven, goal-oriented activities? What can we learn from, how can we adapt and make use of, other forms of play? What can we learn from the action figure playset, or arguments about “who would win?“, or the “barely games” we play in our heads on car trips, at bus stops, standing in lines? Along with humanities games, can we imagine humanities toys?

    Shall We Play A Game?
    It would be a shame to hold a THATCamp Games and not actually play any games! My daydreams of cooking up some elaborate and mysterious ARG that would run around and through and under the whole THATCamp like a secret underconference have, amazingly, not come to fruition (of course, that’s just what I would say if I really was running a mysterious secret ARG), but I still think a session or two of actual game play would be fun and worthwhile. I think I will bring some Parsely Games – Parsely Games are a loving recreation of the text adventure games of the 1970s and 80s, but with a human being playing the role of the computer. Mafia / Werewolf is also a good game for conferences and gatherings like this. I hope other people will bring or suggest a few games that would work well in a conference setting.

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