Game session notes (editable version). Static below:

Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken — game definition:

  • Goal
  • Rules
  • Feedback
  • Voluntary entry

Existing examples of game discussion in education

David Wiley had an RPG for the semester — changing your grade was “leveling up” and there was some discussion about FERPA (privacy) problems (if students knew what others’ levels and thus grades were)

Uses of games/discussion
  • Mixed results in use of games in new media studies teaching actor network theory — board game (TransAmerica). To teach game design, it’s important to get away from bells & whistles (part of railroad game genre), to teach concept of network externalities through game mechanics (unlike Hollywood Stock Exchange, which didn’t work for Ted; too much division between students who caught on quickly & those who didn’t)
  • One issue is the question of numbers — what’s the right size of a group
  • Werewolf used in similar class to focus on role-playing (mechanics are simple)
  • Discussion of SOCL — there were prize incentives that brought in 28% of “voluntary” participants in quizzes.
  • Is voluntary entry inconsistent with game structure in classes, where it might be required?
  • Aspects of fun is one thing that appears to fail in libraries that try to create game mechanics as part of library instruction.
  • Arden was wonderfully designed but declared a failure
  • Bibliobouts… a Zotero add-on ( and discussion of whether anyone would find bibliographic entries fun
  • Brian Croxall describes a “study break” game that wasn’t specifically about libraries but engaged students (donut prize!) — not about classes but more positive in general
  • Putting policy learning into a quiz-show format worked for Emory writing center
  • If we need to (or want to) make failure fun, does that require changes to how we grade students?
  • In the context of a game, would students be more willing to be wrong?
  • Jason — skeptical of the “digital native” assumption that videogames would help students be more willing to fail and be persistent through failure (to “level up”)
  • Is ETS’s E-Grader development something that is a sufficient game gesture for students to revise (and thus be persistent through failure in) essays.

Can we build a game in the session?

  • Getting out of grad school and a job
  • Satire/dark humor
  • Game mechanic idea — horrible things that really do happen in job searches?
  • Game mechanic idea — point system/badges (out of Academic Jobs wiki?)
  • Resources — what do you need to collect to move forward? (Monopoly has money, which is both a score and a resource.)
  • Suppose the score is “cultural capital” — can you spend that for other items?
  • Deviance credits — do enough scutwork for your institution and you can mouth off, become a union activist, etc.
  • Soul credits — how much of your soul are you spending? (Lots of laughter instantly.)
  • Is the point of the game to get a job before your soul is gone?
  • Need to figure out the right tradeoffs — e.g., “work enough for an abusive professor and you lose soul points but gain prestige points.”
  • Multiple win conditions? Would it be possible to get a non-academic or alt-ac job?
  • (Randomness for some win conditions?)
  • Competitive or cooperative game?
  • Is this an Alternative Reality Game (ARG) or a short-term game?
  • There already exist game gestures (such as mock job interviews, practice job talks, etc.)
  • “Survival of the Witless” from Avalanche Press. Out of print, described in

What happens to the magic circle if the game has any consequences outside of itself? If there are grades attached, or if it’s an ARG tied to a very high-stakes circumstance? (Salen & Zimmerman’s concept of the “magic circle”)

Some discussion of the magic-circle concept — gambling is the negative side of spillover, McGonigal’s “SuperBetter” something designed for the reverse. More to the point about THATCamp, the humanities ARE supposed to be a space that give students and other scholars the ability to play with ideas.

Some discussion of less “points-like” structures in classes — Operation Nudge (Sherman), debates over Whitman’s position on the war, … maybe just breaking that up is game enough. Brian: “Maybe we don’t have to be as structured in our game [to have the benefit]. Maybe we need to play Calvinball, where we don’t do the same thing twice.” Jason: “it takes the subject material and applies minimal almost-rules to the information they [are supposed to] have.” In-situ debates are more common in history classes.

Some discussion of how to modify some of the game gestures discussed above.

Discussion of TEI — teaching encoding: could there be a game structure to it? Or programming… the assumption behind Alice would enable young girls to become more interested in programming. Could interest in narrative become a method/means for teaching programming.

Not all courses on game design are effective — what’s necessary to teach better game design (in part as prof. development for teachers)?

Some discussion of different types of feedback. Progress bars, etc.