Tag Archives: kristine ask

Digital Games Research Association #digra11

Ok, so I suck at updating this blog.

A few weeks ago I attended the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA)’s bi-annual meeting. This year it was at Hilversum, The Netherlands!

Continue reading Digital Games Research Association #digra11

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. 🙁



Games Learning Society 6.0 (GLS2010) and Governance in Games panel

Games Learning Society conference 6.0 (GLS2010)

hashtag: #gls2010

flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gls-conference/

So, I’m here at the Games Learning Society conference (probably for the last time as a graduate student). It’s about 4:45 AM on Thursday, and, in an effort to take advantage of my insomnia, I thought I’d write a blog post about the conference so far. I find this kind of odd since earlier in my career as a grad student, I tended to live blog conferences, and, in fact, the last time I was at GLS, I live blogged my experience (gls2008). Over the last two years, that practice has changed from live blogging to blog posts that recap each day (such as my summaries of IR9, IR10, or DML2010) to just using twitter to recap salient ideas. I’ve gotten tired of live blogging, though, I know every time I do, I get emails from people thanking me for it… I blame twitter… Oh, and poor connectivity at certain conferences (ahem, AERA, ahem).

Anyway, I guess all this is to say that I wasn’t planning on blogging at GLS2010 at all. (OMG!) But… well… insomnia.

It’s been great so far, actually. I got here on Tuesday, picked up by Moses Wolfenstein (finishing PhD student at Madison who looks at leadership in WoW guilds/raids and compares it with leadership in educational settings) at the airport and crashing at his place for the week. He’s got a cool housemate Rick Horton who works for Filament Games and really friendly cats named Bertie and Jeeves.

Moses and I met up with Kristine Ask (PhD student at Norwegian University of Science and Technology who does some exciting work on games and STS–note to self, cite her poster in my diss…) and Lee Sherlock (a rhetorician and PhD student at Michigan State) that night (after some meetings in the afternoon since we’re both volunteering for the conference).

Mark Danger Chen at GLS2010

Yesterday, after volunteering for the morning shift, I was asked by Constance Steinkuehler to be a discussant for a panel at the last minute since my colleague and friend Lisa Galarneau has taken ill and couldn’t make it out here. 🙁 Later, I found out that Rich Halverson had asked Reed Stevens to be the discussant, too, but, right as Reed entered the room, we cleared it up and he let me do it.

(Just a side note: writing blog post summaries of events, naming people who were part of the events, always makes me think of all the stuff I could write about all these people who I’ve had histories with, since I find the details in academic relationships / genealogy really fascinating. For example, Moses, Lee, and I are all in the same academic guild in WoW, and Reed used to be my advisor when I was a masters student.)

Governance in Games panel

Moses Wolfenstein
People Before Pixels: How Guild Leadership in World of Warcraft Speaks to Educational Leadership

Basically, a condensed version of Moses’s dissertation talk, afaik. There was a lot of rich quotes from guild and raid leaders who he had conducted interviews with. What’s really interesting is that there’s this sort of paradox or duality in what his participants stated as values for their guild vs. how their guilds were structured. Almost every person said that their guilds valued “people over pixels” and yet many of them also stated that they had to be authoritarian or hierarchical in structure.

John Carter McKnight
<The Devils Made Me Do It> – An Experiment in Teaching Collaborative Governance in World of Warcraft

I met John at the State of Play conference last year, and I know his advisor, Alice Daer nee Robison (grats Alice!) from the same WoW aca-guild. (BTW, if you follow John on twitter, you’ll soon discover that he reads *a lot* and the books he chooses to read would be a fine guide for which books you ought to read.)

John talked about a class of law students and grad students starting a guild in WoW together and the lessons learned from that experience, how the two kinds of students had to reconcile their differences and take on a common identity (through things like the “n00b dance” 🙂 ). What I found really interesting is that there needed to be this sort of shared cultural identity, even so far as to invite non-class members into the guild to create an oppositional third party, for the students to all feel like they were collaborating.

Thomas Malaby
How Are We Governed? The Rise of Computer Game Architecture and the Increasing Irrelevance of Rules and Conventions

Thomas is a veteran of the aca-guild that Moses, Lee, Alice, and I are in, BTW. I respect Thomas as a scholar very deeply, but I also recognize that his tanking and melee skillz are totally hardc0re pwnage. 🙂

Anyway, Thomas used really good examples from baseball and, specifically, how baseball fields are architected in such a way as to both constrain and afford certain types of play. The Red Sox, for example, fully take into account the Green Monster of Fenway Park, when valuing right-handed hitters. Game spaces, likewise, are designed such that certain types of play emerge from deep cultural understandings of how those spaces work. (Reed reminded me in a  comment to me later that STS ways of thinking about how settings or objects configure users was apropos here. That made me think of  TL Taylor when she wrote that we’re not only playing but also being played.) Thomas ended with a challenge of whether it is a human trait to become experts of mechanics, architecture, systems or whether it’s a sociohistorical trend of, for example, post-WW2 Western thought.

In all of these talks, I found the ideas of identity or positioning and cultural capital to be salient. For Moses’s, I thought that there was a duality between the mind (how guild leaders saw themselves as people friendly) vs. the body (how guilds are actually structured). But to get over that duality, the normalizing frame of “we’re not as hardcore as others” obscured the hierarchical nature of their leadership.

One person I talked to afterwards thought that it made sense. The casualness and informality was what guilds strived for, and they achieved it when everyone trusted others to know their stuff. The authoritarian leadership only came into play when necessary when someone broke that trust. That made me think of my “Communication, Coordination, and Camaraderie” paper and how in it I make the argument that trust was supremely important for the raid group I was looking to be able to work well. What I hadn’t written in the paper because it was 3.5 years ago and I hand’t yet keyed in on the idea is that the build up of social and cultural capital or, to put it another way, socialization and enculturation to particular frames and positions within the group was fundamental elements to that trust building.

So, for John’s portion, it is the framing of the joint-task as a collaborative effort and enculturation of classmates to a cohesive identity that allowed them to carry on. For Thomas, I wondered if the emergent practice out of deep understanding of game architecture is how some players display embodied cultural capital, and it’s this display that normalizes gameplay. Thus architecture has a way of indirectly normalizing gameplay. With WoW, addons, collective data, and gearscore are king these days.