THATCamp PNW Workshop on Video Game Pedagogy

At the invitation of Jentery Sayers (English, University of Victoria), I will be conducting a workshop and roundtable tomorrow, November 12, at THATCamp Pacific Northwest.  THATCamp or “The Humanities and Technology Camp” is self-defined as an “unconference” and has proliferated a number of regional “camps” across the world:

Check your papers and suits at the door, and just be ready to talk about the work you’re doing, the work you want to do, how you might collaborate with others, and how you can help and be helped by a community dedicated to the intersection of the humanities and technologies. THATCamp was created by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. You might also know CHNM as the institution behind Zotero and Omeka. CHNM supports this and other regional THATCamps.

This year’s THATCamp PNW is loosely themed “technology and social justice.”  My particular workshop will focus on video games and pedagogy:

“Close Playing, or, Teaching (with) Video Games” (11:30 – 12:45)
Edmond Chang (English, University of Washington)

Central to this workshop is a definition and demonstration of the pedagogy of “close playing” and “paired playing.” Like close reading, close playing requires careful attention to how the game is played (or not played), to what kind of game it is, to the design and goals of the game, to what choices are offered (or not offered) to the player, to how the game intersects with players and the culture at large. In other words, before we can take video games as serious objects of study, we need to develop ways to frame them, study them, and to seriously play them.

Given the current romance with gamification in education and the oft-cited but problematic use of Marc Prensky’s “digital natives” (and “digital immigrants), thinking about and developing how to teach with video games and how to teach video games as objects of inquiry is an important antidote to both technophilic and technophobic responses to gaming as medium, “art,” cultural production, and tool.

The workshop builds on first-hand experiences with teaching video game courses, particularly the work that Timothy Welsh (English, Loyola New Orleans) and I did over the past few years on close playing and paired playing, particularly our co-taught CHID 496: “Close Playing, or, Bioshock as Practicum” and our co-presentation at the UW’s Teaching and Learning Symposium last year and the year before last.  The outline for the workshop includes:

  • Framing the Conversation: Digital Natives, Immigrants, Learners, Literacies
  • Teaching (with) Video Games: Pros, Cons, Pedagogies, Philosophies
  • What is Close Playing? Paired Playing?
  • Workshop on ImmorTall
  • Pedagogy Roundtable with Edmond Chang, Sarah Kremen-Hicks, Terry Schenold

I will also be taking a version of this workshop on the road, co-presenting with Sarah Kremen-Hicks at THATCamp Games held at the University of Maryland, College Park on January 20-22, 2012.

Session Title: Teaching (with) Video Games

Presenters:

Description: Central to this workshop is a definition and demonstration of video game pedagogy, specifically the practices of close playing, play logs or “plogs,” and gaming as/for writing.  One of the central challenges in the use of any medium or technology in the classroom is developing critical approaches, different kinds of “literacy,” and careful integration.  It is not enough to assume that students are “digital natives” and always willing to think about or work with video games.  In other words, before we can take video games as serious objects of study, we need to develop ways to frame them, study them, and to seriously play them.

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