Tag Archives: eric klopfer

Games Learning Society 7 Rapid-fire Notes

Besides the notes from below, GLS was also about brats, beer, ice cream, short shorts, frat jocks with jean chaps, and the metagame. And tons of friends.
This year we sorely  missed Julian Dibbell and/or Lisa Nakamura, presenting to us something on griefing, trolls, gold farmers, subversion, etc. 🙁

Eric argues for deeper considerations of games as aesthetic forms and that they exist within situated contexts. The debate whether games are good is largely uninteresting because it too often focuses on the artifact and superficial gamification elements as instrumental. Rather, we need to start looking at meaningful experiences and beauty. We are in the ludic century.


HALL OF FAILURE: Curriculum Design is a Bitch
I Dig Brazil: a successful failure
Sanzenbacher, Angielczyk, Aronowsky, Joseph,Villanosa
Gamifying Participation: Felling the Talent Tree of Failure
A Failed Experiment? Teaching and Learning about Community in World of Warcraft
McKnight, Hayes
Let Me Know When She Stops Talking: Using Games for Learning without Colonizing Play
Steinkuehler, Pop.Cosmo
Halverson, Discussant

These failures are moments of powerful learning about dangerous assumptions when creating curriculum or interventions that include games. Two highlights:

  1. Sean Duncan’s appropriation of World of Warcraft’s Talent Tree to encourage class participation was a brilliant idea that failed in execution. He concluded that it just didn’t work, but Rich Halverson, the discussant, suggested that maybe it was because all of the talents he designed allowed players to opt-out of participating with the class. What if the talents were reworked such that they gave players the privilege to present or have the floor or otherwise participate more?
  2. Betty Hayes and John Carter McKnight’s experience with English grad students being introduced to World of Warcraft was hilarious, completely dispelling the myth that all students would want to play a game for class, would know how to play a game, and that it would encourage self-directed learning.
My tweets:
I dig brazil = example of curriculum design as fragile orchestration of content, medium, timing, yet best moments can be spontaneous #gls7
This keynote summarized the new NRC report. Constance noted that the report perhaps put more emphasis on simulations. Two take-aways:
  1. much of games and simulation research has focused on content learning, yet games could speak powerfully to all the 6 strands of science learning in the LSIE volume (pdf).
  2. there’s not yet enough evidence for using games/simulations for the 6 strands of learning, so there’s an opportunity for more research using this new framework.

It went well in the sense that we had a good conversation, though, I don’t think we got at the meat of the debate… or maybe we dodge the debate by basically agreeing that game communities are complex and highly particular. Lisa couldn’t make it physically and was our disembodied Skype voice. 🙂


All of the posters were great and I encourage you to check them out at your leisure:

I mostly paid attention to these two:
A Data-Driven Taxonomy of Undergraduate Student Video Game Enjoyment
Quick, Atkinson
Because I was about to give a presentation on modeling engagement the next day.

The Teron Gorefiend Simulator: A Perspective on Learning in Online Game Communities
Because Patrick provided a perfect example of a sociomaterial resource that WoW players used to be good players.


Keynote 3: An Ecologist’s Perspective on the Ecology of Learning Games

Basically arguing that games need to be considered as part of a larger ecology (of activity) with examples from MIT.


HALL OF FAILURE: Game & Assessment Design are Hard Too

The More We Know: Inside NBC News’ iCue, and Why It Didn’t Work
Klopfer, Haas
Simulating Failure: Why Simulations Don’t Always Work
Critical Gameplay Gone Critically Wrong
Modeling but Not Measuring Engagement in Computer Games
Chen, Cuddihy, Medina, Kolko
Hayes, Discussant

Another awesome Hall of Failure session. This is by far my favorite type of conference session  now. Brief take-aways: Carlton Reeve could use some way to make more transparent how game decisions have future impacts to consequences. Lindsay Grace is an amazing speaker and has created a bunch of games where he only gives himself 5 days to develop them. Both Jason Haas and I demonstrated an ability to use Google Image Search to find Fail Whales.

My tweets:

@Carlton I’d gladly collaborate with you! #gls7

Mostly talking about Quest2Learn. (Coincidentally, Aaron Hung’s new book The Work of Play just came out!)


FIRESIDE CHAT: Writing the Games-Based Dissertation
Wolfenstein, Chen, D’Angelo, Harper, Kelly,Chess

Surprisingly well attended! We decided to submit something to the conference proceedings. I guess navigating PhDs to completion is an universal challenge.


PRESENTATION: How Players Shape the Game
Scientific Play? How Players Remake World of Warcraft as a Game of Numbers.
Negotiating with the “Addictive” Characteristics of Online Games
Yut, Korea’s Monopoly: A deep relationship between game play and cultural practices
Lee, Halverson
DeVane, Discussant

Kristine Ask covers theorycrafting and how normalizing its practice is. Shawna Kelly tackles the controversial topic of addiction and how players who talk about addiction (regardless of how we define it) tend to be happier. Jules Lee introduces the audience to the Korean game Yut, looking at play in a similar study to Na’ilah Nasir’s look at African-American dominoes players.

My tweets (many more than in previous sessions because @the_real_rahjur was doing such a good job live-tweeting the ones we both went to):

players using theorycraft w/o understanding the numbers is kind of like academic work, actually – @kristineask#gls7
players, whether they care about theorycrafting, will encounter it and have their play normalized by it #gls7@kristineask

some guilds encourage pointing newbies to theorycrafting sites rather than just being “elitist jerks” #gls7@kristineask

some have described expertise development as basically a process of normalization, too #gls7

sobering case studies of gaming addiction from shawna kelly #gls7

gamers who manage their “addiction”–by talking about it, by setting goals–are happier #gls7 -shawna kelly

“gaming practice cannot be separated from gaming culture” #gls7Jules Lee on the Korean game Yut

surprisingly, during social play experts Yut players asked more questions than novice players #gls7 -Jules Lee

the type of question seems to matter a lot, eh? #gls7 Jules Lee

Jules Lee just cited Megan Bang! Dr. Bang is coming to U Washington next year. uhuh uhuh. /nod #gls7

also citing Na’ilah Nasir, who’s working with us at the LIFE Center. yup yup… 🙂 #gls7

expert gamers leverage resources-social ties to family, etc. (Lee & Halverson) *and* material tools (Ask) #gls7 (thx 4 supporting my diss!)

gaming practice *and* there4 expertise devlpmnt(!) takes place n specfc cultural contexts, compltly destroys cogntvst view o expertse #gls7


Three main points:

  1. In line with Eric, Eric, and, to a lesser extant, Constance, in saying that gaming ecologies need to be looked at, not just the game-player relationship. Learning environment matters. Setting matters. The how of implementation matters.
  2. Also along those lines, games are good at teaching systems thinking, procedural and logistical or computational thinking, not necessarily content knowledge.
  3. We have a digital media literacy divide that mirrors a general literacy divide, and it’s gotten worse since NCLB. Jim Gee names the biggest problem segregation within our school systems; not necessarily segregation by race but also by class, etc., where those with strong networks of support continue to outpace students who lack support.
My retweet:
rogueclone1138 Jennifer Killham
“this fireside chat has turned into a fire hazard chat” – @meems808 #gls7
I skipped this. Sorry. 🙁