• Break These Values: Game Your Discipline (A Talk and Make Session)

    At THATCamp CHNM 2012, Mills Kelly led a session on “Pedagogies of Disruption” that outlined ways of teaching humanities knowledge by disrupting values: turning what a field cares about on its head in order to teach it (see the linked GoogleDoc for some fantastic assignment ideas and example values). Let’s hold a session that puts a gamic twist on disrupting values to learn and teach:

    1. Talk: Each attendee defines one of their fields/disciplines/areas of interest, in one minute or less. The group discusses the humanities/intellectual values inherent in each field and notes these up on the chalkboard.
    2. Generate: If attendance is large enough, break into groups each assigned to a value we’ve identified–and try to have groups be a mix of practitioners and non-members of that field, to get both experience and a fresh set of eyes involved. Groups brainstorm a) antonyms/opponents to that value and b) high-level game idea outlines for teaching the value by breaking it (see below for some examples).
    3. Build: Depending on our successes, some of us might draft a more thorough version of one or more of these games for the Sunday game design jam: a prototype digital platform for playing, mockups, or even a mini-version we can present to other attendees. Another option is to create a humanities version of TiltFactor’s online Grow-a-Game generator for values-driven games; instead of game verbs, values, games to mod, and social issues, we could use humanities values (e.g. authenticity), game genre (e.g. ARG), digital platform/tool (e.g. Omeka), and any other variables attendees suggest. If the session has a smaller attendance, instead of breaking into groups for the “Generate” portion, we can create a human version by having people yell out different options for these variables, then brainstorm aloud how to make these pieces fit together.

    My hope is to bring a diverse group of people together–not just teachers, because every profession has its values!–and discuss how each field can be meaningfully gamed for greater awareness of and nuance to its core values. As two of the hats I wear are a Textual Scholarship Hat and a Narrative Game Hat, though, I’ll give some examples from the overlaps of those fields–in part because I’ve been talking with people about disruptive values games for textual studies over the past year. A major issue for history of the book scholars and for scholarly editors is authenticity, a value that plays well against messing with material traces, narrative accounts, archival memory: disruption via forgery and its close cousin, fiction. Some examples and ideas of forgery and fiction in the service of textual studies:

    • Bethany Nowviskie ran a textual scholarship course (Material Textuality and the History of the Book) as a LARP around sleuthing forgery (“Biblioludica”)
    • Ivanhoe (McGann, Drucker, Nowviskie, and more) is a collaborative storytelling game–originally a PBeM RPG, later a website-based RPG–that explores the reception and transmission of a text by having players adopt identities tangential to the main linguistic content (e.g. a minor character, a publisher, a relative of an author) and crafting fiction through that POV with a strong basis in the text that is being played
    • At THATCamp CHNM 2012, Sarah Werner and I discussed possibilities for undergraduate book-studies teaching via narrative games. Given my interest in book materials/preservation, descriptive bibliography, and building, I thought it would be cool to teach bibliovalues using some sort of lab where you mocked up forgeries–but the material logistics of really doing that are too difficult. Presenting digital mockups of forgeries is more reasonable–and by using Omeka, you can teach additional lessons about the credibility of archives (e.g. the archive is an interpretation made by an archivist)–so a possible game could involve asking students to identify the odd ducks/least authentic-sounding items in an Omeka archive you’ve populated with both real and fictional metadata.

    Ideas? Interested?

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1 Comment

  1. I love the ideas! Count me in for this one.


  1. Break These Values: Game Your Academic Discipline | Literature Geek by Amanda Visconti (@Literature_Geek)

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