While last year we presented a general overview and introduction to games studies/games research in academia to people who may be interested in games as a career but don’t want to go into the games industry, this year we each had five minutes to share where we’re at and what we do and then share the work of someone else in the field that we like.
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.
These failures are moments of powerful learning about dangerous assumptions when creating curriculum or interventions that include games. Two highlights:
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?
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.
I dig brazil = example of curriculum design as fragile orchestration of content, medium, timing, yet best moments can be spontaneous #gls7
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. 🙂
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.
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
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.
Also along those lines, games are good at teaching systems thinking, procedural and logistical or computational thinking, not necessarily content knowledge.
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.
Stayed with cousin Lee-kai on the west side. It was brilliant except that our busy schedules meant that we only actually hung out for like 3 hours total: a game of Race for the Galaxy when I arrived on Tuesday and lunch at Crema with Jafe (friend from high school and husband of Crema owner, Julieta) the next day. Lee-kai and his friends know RftG really, really well and basically kicked my ass even though just the week before I won a game at home. In my defense, I guess, I had some really crappy cards throughout the game and waffled on which specialization I should take. I don’t think that game is about diversifying at all, and I paid for it.
Crema was as fantastic as the last time I was in New York back in April 2008. Mmmmm. Other restaurants I got to try out were Big Nick’s (got a guacamole burger), Penang (got sizzling tofu which was good but had that weird slimy coating that I sometimes see on tofu; what is that stuff? Also, Krista-Lee thinks she got sick on the curry chicken… 🙁 ), Buona Notte (“the best” claimed the street hawkers), the cafe above Fairway on Broadway, Golden Unicorn (full on Chinese banquet, ftw!), and Katz’s (hot pastrami sandwich, yum). Pretty much great food all around.
Since I think the conference sessions were summarized pretty well by others (Raph, Tim, Bart, Sara, Greg L at Terra Nova, twitter hashtag #sop09), I’ll stick to the people I met. Anyway, I place more importance on the connections made and individual and collective collisions of people and ideas than I do on the sessions, so it’s pretty appropriate to list the fine folks I met.