• Join THATCamp Games II in 2013


    THATCamp Games II will be held at Case Western Reserve University April 19-21.

    Find more information and register here: http://2013.thatcampgames.org/

  • Mission Accomplished!


    Thanks to everyone who attended last weekend’s THATCamp Games. Over the next week, we’ll be archiving and Storifying the Twitter feed, aggregating photos, and gathering GoogleDocs. If you haven’t had a chance yet, please take this brief survey on your THATCamp Games experience.
    If you hear from anyone who’d like to be contacted about future THATCamp Games unconferences, please direct them to the form on the sidebar of this website, where they can share their contact information with us.

  • 3 Requests / Proposals

    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: Research Methods


    A number of great sessions have already been proposed, so the following is building on ideas from several other posts. ¬†I would be very interested in a session discussing different approaches to game analytics. ¬†What methods–both theoretical and pragmatic–do you use when studying games as cultural objects? ¬†Are there techniques to share in our approach to games, from¬†embracing the play element (Why So Serious) to visualizing, unpacking, breaking, or decoding games (as suggested in sessions proposed by¬†Amanda,¬†Zack, and others)? ¬†How do we align (or not) techniques of “close playing” to software studies, and how do these different theoretical practices relate to — and change — more traditional domains of inquiry? ¬†Can we see ways to¬†revise theories of narrative based on the introduction of formal feedback loops, ¬†adjust approaches to textual studies based on research in platform studies, or¬†expand theories of cultural studies based on computational encoding practices (in short: how does studying games change broader theoretical frameworks)?

    In addition to more theoretical concerns, it would be great to hear others talk about pragmatic approaches — what tools they use to get at things like source code, best practices in capturing and annotating game play sessions, or even potential projects in large-scale data-mining of everything from speed runs to after-action reports.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone.

  • Session Proposal: Playing Doing History…Online…Without a Teacher

    Woman's Med Alumnae, 1906-1908

    Woman's Med Alumnae, 1906‚ÄĎ1908

    (During this session, notes were taken (link).  Thanks to Seth Denbo for initiating this.)

    There’s this woman. She became a doctor around 1900…not super common at the time. I can’t remember her name. Considering the time period, it was probably something like Eveline or Florence or Maud.¬†This basic knowledge is our starting point. One end point brings us to the knowledge that she was Australian, or maybe British, or both, raised Jewish, converted to Christianity, was a Medical Missionary to Hawaii and probably Mexico, possibly a lesbian, and she died of a head injury after being run down by a car in Hollywood. She is a notable nobody of the past.

    For students figuring this out, the process is not only Doing History, but it is also Playing with History. This is the same satisfying play that thousands of historians and history professionals, and millions of genealogists do every day.

    By exploring a set of documents, students can gain experience and start scaffolding this process. When we do these activities face-to-face with students, they frequently respond with some version of “I feel like a detective!” Feeling like a detective means gathering and corroborating evidence, then coming up with your best guess at “the truth,” but knowing that you may never know for sure. This is historical thinking in practice…one kind of critical thinking in practice.

    Teaching students the process of putting together a historical vignette is tricky, but made easier by constraining the places to look for clues (e.g., give them 10 documents and photos). This constraining should make it a viable candidate for moving the process and learning into an online setting. There are even steps that people have developed (see numerous links below).

    But if we were to transfer this into an online setting:

    • How would you make it engaging?
    • How would you make it useful, with real learning outcomes?
    • How do you make sure it is non-trivial and not¬†worthwhile to¬†cheat?
    • How do you keep students interested when a game requires significant amounts of reading and text-skimming? (This is hard enough when you’re hovering and badgering in face-to-face settings.)
    • How do you let students experience the real-life research dead ends, then pull them back from that frustration before they bail?
    • And how do you go beyond multiple choice-based monitoring of student progress/understanding to something that monitors students’ synthesis of more nebulous concepts? In other words, students meet some higher-order learning outcomes without the mediation of a live human teacher.
    • (Bonus question: How do you do it without designing a one-off game scenario that costs over $50,000 and you can never get another grant to maintain, develop further, or add new scenarios/stories/people?)
    • Caveat: For the sake of argument, let’s focus on history process not history content

    I only recently learned of the concept of Epistemic Games, “games in which players see what it is like to live in the world of adults.” Is Doing History a good candidate for an epistemic games? ¬†The process also shares characteristics with metapuzzles, as described in Friday’s “Narrative Puzzles / ARGs” BootCamp led by the¬†Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry folks.

    As mentioned, some “standard” approaches for analyzing primary sources:

  • Session Proposal: Gender and Video Games


    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).


  • How/Why do you use Games?


    Here’s a riff off a few previous proposals, especially “Why So Serious,” and based on conversations I’ve had during the Boot Camps. I imagine this as a pure roundtable.

    • How are you using games and why?
    • What is it that games provide to your study, teaching, etc.. that you can’t get from other sources?

    I make games to help others with their research, so this session is a bit selfish for me: I’d like to use this anecdotal data to help me better serve the researchers I work with.

  • Session Proposal: Mobile and Locative Gaming


    I wanted to offer up a short proposal in the 11th hour on mobile and locative games. Building off of Rob MacDougall’s proposal for place-based games/ARGs, this session would explore some emerging games that use mobile device for location aware gaming. This could include discussions of games such as geocaching, locative social networks with gaming elements like Foursquare, or iPhone/iPad games like TurfWars. I’d also be interested in discussing pervasive games like Big Urban Game and PacManhattan. Similar to Rob’s session idea, I’d love to discuss issues of space and place, immersion, ethics of locative gaming (e.g. interactions with bystanders), and what I’ve come to call the “poverty of the screen” for locative games (i.e., the need for there to be meaningful interaction between the material space and the digital device in order to foster a rich gaming experience).


    Also, if anyone would be interested, I would love to place some THATCamp Games geocaches around campus. Perhaps we can find time during the Game Jam on Sunday.

  • Not really a session proposal


    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!

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