ETEC 565S - Digital Games and Learning: A Personal Journey

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ETEC 565S - Digital Games and Learning: A Personal Journey by Mind Map: ETEC 565S - Digital Games and Learning: A Personal Journey

1. Games & Play

1.1. Games

1.1.1. Callois attempts to supplement Huizinga and his definition of "play" by classifying "games" and linking the two intrinsically. I saw his assessment of games as essentially formalized vehicles for play. Callois presents a fundamentally colonial perspective.

1.2. Play

1.2.1. De Castell and Jensen offer a refreshing take on the need for increased play, or "serious play" in education. I saw this in action this past school year where I had two students design a community space using Little Big Planet. Unfortunately their game data was corrupted half way through the process, and they lost their designs, but they were completely engaged with the process throughout, despite the steep learning curve.

1.3. Huizinga presents another colonial perspective, this time on the nature of play and its place in colonial culture. Huizinga asserts that "play cannot be denied" (pg. 99), a sentiment which stuck with me throughout the week. I found it inviting, in a sense, to consider that play is interwoven into the social fabric of my life, particularly the ways in which I play with my children and and the ways in which they engage in play with each other.

1.4. Videogames and Learning

1.4.1. I found Bogost and his collection of chapters detailing the many dimensions of videogame use, to be to most practical reading in the course. I actually devoured the reading, though of course it was perhaps less rigorous than many of the other readings. As someone who has dabbled with Exergames in an attempt to meld my hobby with practical exercise, I found his assertion that exergames need to do more than just replicate exercise, and that they need to replacate cultural and social constructs and experiences to be successful, to be spot on. I reflected on the many hours I spent with friends playing rock band and the calories I likely burned, compared to my time with WiiFit.

2. Design

2.1. Playcentric

2.1.1. Fullerton's playcetric design process fit quite well with my own design sensibilities. I did find Fullerton's claim that "what makes a game great is solid gameplay" (pg. 3) to be a bit assumptive and perhaps dismissive of the many gameplay styles and designs of great games. I think of Firewatch, by Campo Santo, or Gone Home by Steve Gaynor at Fullbright, which I am reviewing for my game review project. These two games arguably have limited gameplay designs, even described, for better or worse, as "walking simulators". It isn't the gameplay design that makes these games shine, but rather, it is their narrative structures.

2.1.2. During the group project, our group conducted repeated playtests ourselves, and managed to get two others to help. With such a condensed time frame it was difficult to make many major changes based on playtester feedback, but I did feel like it probably simulated a larger budget game design process. In particular, I felt overly attached to some design ideas at first, despite Fullerton's warnings to avoid this design pitfall, but after group deliberation, we managed to pivot and make a reasonably large system and narrative shift, which we believed made our game better and more authentic.

2.2. Game Hacking

3. Culture

3.1. Identity

3.1.1. I found Gray's article fascinating. As a straight white male, online gaming spaces are essentially utilitarian spaces, in that they serve only as spaces to engage in multiplayer gaming. Further, I don't even use those spaces for any social interaction, choosing instead to mute all incoming and outgoing communication to avoid the vitriol. I felt sheepish for never really considering how others use those spaces, particularly marginalized people.

3.1.2. Nene's statement that there "ain't no closets in the ghetto and none online -- at least not for me", really drove home my ignorance. I always saw online spaces, particularly gaming spaces, as spaces designed to allow easy anonymous participation and engagement, even to a fault. I had never considered that marginalization that many people may experience would transgress these spaces. I plan to discuss this topic with my students next year, all of whom are First Nations students with colloquial speech patterns and many of whom are avid online gamers. I'm curious to what extent their experiences of racism in the real world are reproduced while playing games online.

3.1.3. I couldn't help thinking about the game The Last of Us while reading and discussing the Brock article. Where RE5 featured a black female character as essentially a prop, TLOU featured Ellie, a white teenaged girl, whose character actually requires protagonist Joel to aid her in achieving goals. The mechanics are similar to RE5, but TLOU features a narrative structure that makes the relationship between Ellie and Joel, and the gameplay systems that tie them together, far more complex and believable than the relationship between Chris and Shiva. Naught Dog, who published RE5, have long been known for their authentic and thoughtful narrative and gameplay prowess, which is why they often take much longer to develop game than other companies. This attention to detail, and thoughtful approach is exemplified in the stand alone TLOU spin off called Left Behind, which not only reveals Ellie to be a lesbian whose partner is black, but it does so in what I believe is an authentic way, avoiding tokenism, and instead fleshing out an already deep character in Ellie.

4. I absolutely adored the game hack exercise with Up the River. I felt it was such a wonderful way to make Fullerton's playcentric approach come to life in a risk free way, and I though it scaffolded perfectly into our game design projects.