Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

  • 3 Requests / Proposals

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    Proposal 1: Career Games Discussion & Critique
    On Friday there was a lot of talk about career games that help people navigate parts of their career.  I’ve got a prototype out for a game to help you learn how to interview well by putting yourself in the shoes of your potential boss.  I’d love to get feedback on it as well as see how I can work with other people who have similar games out there and help critique theirs.  It seems like a hot topic and one with a potentially high ROI for both players needing the skills in our terrible economic situation.
    Proposal 2: Playtest our prototype
    My current project is working to help youth activists, organizers and social entrepreneurs succeed more often through digital technology and role plays/games.  I’d love to do a session on our current thinking, our upcoming Kickstarter campaign and have people play test our team building game if we can get at least 4 other people in the session.  Please visit dgtlproductions.com for more information and read our mission statement here:

    We train and network groups of young social entrepreneurs or civic activists already taking actions to improve their community using games that teach participants about the most common pitfalls in their work.

    Proposal 3: For your pleasure: Gameful Participation
    This is more of an informational proposal than a session proposal.  If people are interested, I help run Gameful with Jane McGonigal.  We have two events this weekend that may be fun for people from #thatcamp #games to attend.  We have our volunteer meeting at Sunday at 3, and a live webinar on LARPing in the classroom.  We could all get together and join in a room and it would be a great introduction for many people at #thatcamp games.  We’re hoping to work with teachers using games to run challenges that students could work with and get information from our 15,000 positive impact games members.  See the attached document for more information.

     

  • Session Proposal: Gender and Video Games

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    This is a joint proposal with Maria Sachiko Cecire (@mscecire). The majority of video games are geared towards socialized forms of masculinity (for example, aggression and dominance in order to ‘level up’ in first person shooter games). While there are increasing numbers of games which are geared towards women and girls as a target market (such as The Sims and many games on the Wii platform), video gaming is still considered a male-dominated preserve.

    Some questions we would like to discuss: how does gender affect game studies/game pedagogy? How is gameplay gendered? What sorts of games attract women players, and why? How do we engage more women to take classes where games are being taught/are a focus of the class? How do we discuss the gender divide in games-focused classrooms? Are there areas of game studies/pedagogy where the gender divide is less prominent? The idea for this session proposal came out of a discussion of the role of gender and games in Friday’s games and teaching bootcamp run by Edmond Chang (@edmondchang) and Sarah Kremen-Hicks (@rhetoricaltrope).

     

  • Not really a session proposal

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    The advantage of proposing a thatcamp session at the last minute is that I get to see what everyone else has already posted and, upon recognizing a trend, I can either follow that trend or buck it. While I’m certainly very interested in all the proposals related to pedagogy (as all of my courses this semester involve videogames in some signifcant way), the scholarly part of me is more interested, probably, in the sessions proposed around game preservation and game analytics. It even occurs to me that these ideas are related by an affinity with software tools deployed in service of humanistic inquiry, so I wonder if the output of these sessions might even be a toolkit or at least a software “best practices” for ludologists? I don’t think that idea needs to be a session proposal in itself, necessarily, but it’s perhaps one way to start looking forward with whatever goes on tomorrow.

    Anyway, I suppose I should also mention that I’d love to attend and contribute to most of the sessions already proposed here, so rather than come up with my own redundant proposal, I’ll just mention that I’ve taught a course on ARGs and I’d love to hear others’ experiences teaching similar things. I’m also teaching a seminar for first year students on the idea of a videogame canon, so broader questions such as the value of videogames for the liberal arts are near and dear in their own way.

    All told, I’m excited about all of the proposals and I look forward to getting to see or meet everyone tomorrow!

  • Session Proposal: Games and the Literature Classroom

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    I would like to discuss two major topics on games and the literary classroom: 1) using games to teach literature, and 2) understanding games as a form of literature.

    Questions raised by topic (1): how can games be used to teach skills for the traditional literary classroom, such as content knowledge, close reading, and grasp of literary theory/new historicism? Are there any games, video or otherwise, already available for the literature classroom? How effective are these games in training students in skills and content? Compared with traditional tests and essays, do games encourage surface or deep learning? Is it possible to replace some types of essay writing with a type of game, and what would this game look like?

    Issues in topic (2) How can we understand games as a form of literature? This question riffs off Mark Sample’s (@samplereality) recent MLA panel, “Close Playing,” featuring ThatCamp Games organizer Anastasia Salter (@anasalter). How do games as a form of literature both complement and diverge from literary texts? How would a game be incorporated into a syllabus as a literary text? What sort of different skills would one need to read games as a literary text?

     

  • The Occupy Session: Critical Game Design

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    As the Occupy Movement reignites a long-simmering debate about inequality in the United States and connects up with global struggles for social justice, what role can games play in fostering this movement?  In many ways, the learning principles embodied by games promote the kind of agency, collaboration, and problem-solving skills that this movement requires.  Beyond just discussing examples of “games for change” (there is an “Occupy: The Game,” btw), I’d like to focus on the art of making critical/radical games, what Mary Flanagan has called game design for “critical play.”  Here are some questions we might discuss, though more are welcome:

    1. What are the elements of a critical game design theory and praxis?

    2. How does critical game design differ from traditional game design?

    3. What can critical game designers learn from the Occupy Movement, and vice-versa?

    4. What new opportunies do developing game platforms–mobile, social, and casual gaming–have to offer an emerging critical gaming culture?

    5. How can ARG techniques and technologies be utilized to mobilize and organize more effectively?

    6. How can educators use game-based learning to level-up Critical Pedagogy, producing what I would call a “Critical Gaming Pedagogy?”

    Let’s form a general assembly and occupy a session.  People’s mic optional.

     

  • Session Proposal: Preserving Videogames (and their genesis)

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    Here we have an entire (un)conference devoted to games,  yet unlike most other materials commonly targeted by humanistic inquiry, games (specifically videogames) have very few cultural heritage resources (archives, museums, libraries) dedicated to their preservation and access.

    As part of the Preserving Virtual Worlds team, I’m interested in the so-called significant properties or essential characteristics of a videogame–those features that can’t be altered without affecting the authenticity of the work. The Society of American archivists defines authenticity as:

    n. ~ 1. The quality of being genuine, not a counterfeit, and free from tampering, and is typically inferred from internal and external evidence, including its physical characteristics, structure, content, and context.

    With additional notes that:

    Authenticity is closely associated with the creator (or creators) of a record. First and foremost, an authentic record must have been created by the individual represented as the creator. The presence of a signature serves as a fundamental test for authenticity; the signature identifies the creator and establishes the relationship between the creator and the record.

    Authenticity can be verified by testing physical and formal characteristics of a record. The ink used to write a document must be contemporaneous with the document’s purported date. The style and language of the document must be consistent with other, related documents that are accepted as authentic.

    Authenticity alone does not automatically imply that the content of a record is reliable.

    The authenticity of records and documents is usually presumed, rather than requiring affirmation. Federal rules of evidence stipulate that to be presumed authentic, records and documents must be created in the ‘regular practice’ of business and that there be no overt reason to suspect the trustworthiness of the record (Uniform Rules of Evidence, as approved July 1999).

    As an example, the US National Archives lists “Appearance – Layout” as a core significant property of a webpage.  By identifying certain features as significant, certain other features are necessarily considered optional. This becomes extra important with videogames, because feature loss or degradation is far more inevitable and noticeable with game emulation than , say, JPEG conversion.  I’d like to get a conversation going about how you, as gamers and game developers, would identify these properties.  For example:

    • How important is the hardware? Is a game fundamentally changed if it was originally played with a paddle, but is emulated using a joystick?
    • If the game was originally intended for a CRT display, is playing on an LCD or Plasma screen authentic?
    • How important is sound fidelity? Early games used sound very minimally, because they were limited to the harsh sounds of an internal PC-speaker. (Try playing the “PC beep” sound in your computer’s sound options. Now imagine an entire soundtrack of PC beeps).
    • How important is color fidelity? If the blood spatter in a first person shooter was originally PMS  186, do we lose something fundamental if it’s emulated as PMS 185 (Pantone Matching System)?

    Alternately

    If that doesn’t get you going, I’m also interested in the manuscript materials (concept art, version control repositories, in-house tools, design documents, etc) generated by game development. What are they? How do they differ (or not) from “traditional” personal papers or business records? To what use could we put them?

     

  • Fantasy, Gaming, & Children’s Culture

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    This is a little different from the proposals so far, but if there’s enough interest I’d love to have a session where we discuss the relationship between gaming, medieval-style fantasy, and childhood/children’s culture. I’m a newcomer to studying games, but my work on medievalism and children’s literature has often brought me back to this curious threesome. Some possible topics include:

    • Playing, role-playing, and gaming
    • Games as potentially and explicitly didactic
    • War, magic, and history as spaces of play
    • Infantilization of fantasy and gaming culture
    • Transmedia fantasy universes

    I have little gaming experience myself, so I’d have to rely on everyone’s expertise for discussions of specific games, especially the digital kind! Depending on the interests of the group we could work towards certain outcomes to help keep the conversation focused. A few ideas:

    • Examples of “children’s,” “adult,” and “crossover” fantasy games, with identifying characteristics (how are they categorized, and who categorizes them?) and related texts/products in other media
    • A working bibliography of relevant criticism and theory
    • The outline for an easy-to-use (and easy-to-modify) game that we could play in the classroom to help students experience and discuss key questions around gaming, medievalisms, genre, and/or children’s culture. (An RPG? Would some existing games would work well?)
    • A set of possible discussion questions to go with said game(s)

     

  • Virtual Worlds – Second Life, OpenSim, Jibe

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    Hello Everybody!

    I am a nOOb with integrating games into the classroom.  I am both excited and nervous about this week.  Excited because, well, who wouldn’t be?  Nervous because I’m afraid I won’t have much to share.  Despite that, I am going to throw out a possible session, which is admittedly ill-defined, nevertheless here it goes…

    I have been working with a group of educators from many backgrounds (K-12, higher ed, non-profit, and corporate) in Second Life for several years.  We met in an in-world course and all stuck together with the original instructor.  We’ve focused primarily on educational simulations in the past, but have begun moving toward building educational games.

    Some questions/ideas to explore:

    • Has anybody created a game in SL/OpenSim for their students?
    • If yes, what went well and not so well?
    • How does it differ from other platforms?
    • Has anybody integrated user created objects into the game experience?
    • Do you program non-player characters to persist or have people come in on schedule?
    • Bringing students into Second Life for the first time can be challenging.  Has anybody found an “easy” way.
    • We’ve begun to explore Jibe, which is built in Unity and uploaded.  It is easy to get in, as it is displayed in a regular browser, requires a link, username/password, and two clicks to enter.  However, as far as I know, users cannot create objects and all interaction needs to be programmed.

    Some of these I have experience and opinions on, but others I do not.  I would love to learn and share with others.

    • 3D GameLab Group

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      Hey, everyone, I’ve set up a group for us in 3D GameLab, for those of you who would like to try out the system for yourselves.  For those who didn’t see my comment on an earlier post, 3D GameLab is a new learning management system using game mechanics and quest-based learning principles, designed at the Educational Technology department at Boise State University.

      I’ve added 15 or so simple quests, all revolving around what we’re doing and discussing at THATCamp Games, and anyone who would like to participate is welcome.  Some of the quests can be completed before the meetings begin while others can only be done after participating in THATCamp Games sessions.  You can do as many or as few quests as you like, and as you do you’ll see how the badges, rewards and point bar work in this system.

      3D GameLab is in closed beta testing right now, so I do have to invite you in.  If you are interested in seeing how it works from the inside, just email me at suzanne.waldenberger @ yc.edu (take out the spaces) and I’ll add you to the group.

    • Session Proposal: Who Are We Pretending to Be? (Am I doing this right?)

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      Hey all,

      Not much to say. Just curious — and, well, excited to offer up something. I’ll try to frame this something in the form of a curiosity of some sort, because I guess I find myself curious about this, too.

      My (Clumsy) Complaint: Identity politics — or the overt exploration of identity in general (for example, like, in the study of video games?) — is often rigid and self-congratulatory and melodramatic and generally fraught with differently-flavored varieties of basically the same blank insistence (“see me, see me”), even whilst the mainstream consciousness that granted such politics widespread practical agency has continued to appeal rather to identification — a very compelling pretension to being something specific, rather than dealing with the pretension of numerous oppressive others — and has thus more successfully been able to get under our skin.

      Hopefully, if you’re not taking the above complaint to be mainly sexist, racist, colonialist, and what not, then maybe we can all join to have a talk about what exactly games are offering us by way of people, places, animals, objects … that we can be. It’s too simplistic to call it “pretending to be.” I’ll accept “identifying” — but “identifying as,” rather than “identifying with.”

      I hope I’m making sense.

      Mostly, I’d like to consider the medium of role-playing games, but I certainly welcome any insertions (ooh, “insertions” — I like this accident) from other “identifying as”-style works into the discussion. Here, I mean any role-playing games — from whatever varieties of the childhood game of pretend to the disaffected (and mostly male) young person’s table-top dice-rolling pencil-and-paper variety to the (at once neurotic and strangely open) adult varieties of role-playing done, ideally (we like to think), “in” the proverbial “bed.” Eh, the last is where I thought I wanted to insert “insertions.” The only thing is: I’m not sure to what extent “insertions” are real. Likewise with orcs and summon skeleton spells, and with playing doctor and pretending to be a pokemon.

      The academic discussion should probably unfold in more or less this way: Why this? Why that? Why this way? Why that way? Bla, bla, bla…

      Catch my drift? Interested? Bored? Grossed out?

      Let me know.

      – Ishai

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