Ceci n’est pas une. . . game

Photo Credit: Pixel Fantasy via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Pixel Fantasy via Compfight cc

Yes, I’m modding one of my own post titles for a new topic, after borrowing it from the Magritte original. And yes, I’m appropriating the term modding as I understand it from Friday when I ventured off “The Island of Misfit Toys” to attend THATCamp Games 2013. This post will be a combination of how uninformed I am about games and of what I liked and learned from my one-day excursion, now that I am comfortably back on my island being myself.

Plays well with others is not on my cv.

Let it be said, I am not a gamer. Although I’ve been active in Second Life® since 2006, having built two academic campus spaces that are safely stored back in my inventory, Second Life is not a game. There are no rules or quests or idiots trying to kill you, save some annoying griefers who are nothing more than mosquitoes to be swatted away. Once, I downloaded a game and entered it and was almost immediately killed. I couldn’t figure out how to come back to life and deleted it. Presumably, I am still dead there. Whatever. When my children were young, in the late 1970s, I remember we had an Atari game system, in which no one was interested. I want no part of anything resembling role-playing–even attending live theatre performances makes me uncomfortable. You get the picture.

Friday was a day of bootcamps, but I never caught on to how those sessions would be different from the ones on the following days. One session was like any conference presentation, except divided into two, and the other two I chose were completely unlike any conference session and way over my head. I learned from the first session that I am not the only one who has invented incorporating path choices into course content.

I also learned that games have specific characteristics that make them games, and while I do not have the link to that speaker’s Prezi, I think this image sums it up:

Photo Credit: V&A Steamworks via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: V&A Steamworks via Compfight cc

Then I dropped into the deep end of the pool. It was fun seeing Open Source Hardware, but I didn’t really get the purpose of creating circuits on paper. The others doing it seemed to be delighted, so maybe they were hardware developers or machine tinkerers. I don’t know what application it would have in humanities classrooms, but I don’t discount that someone knows. The sewable electronic modules were interesting and I wonder if my knitter child would find application for them.

For the last session I chose, “Digital Game Design Jam,” I should have exercised the two foot option of leaving. I was a disappointment to my team, who were a couple of smart people with skills I don’t have. I didn’t see a way to use my particular smarts, plus I don’t perform well within the kind of short time frame we had. I wouldn’t have caught on, though, if I had a week to think about it. Still, I think the game they designed could have application to particular students as a way to think about current journalism practices and ethics.

I tried to go to day two, but felt deeper in the hole, so I did exercise my two-foot option to go home and work on my own digital project, which is still pretty much in the scanning stage. Taking paper out of envelopes–paper with no electronic circuits–scanning and filing them in folders, is more up my alley. I intend to learn how to code so I can encode the text of the letters, but I didn’t see a way to connect that to gaming.

Takeaway of value: I wish more conferences used these small group sessions where people work on things, instead of the traditional classroom model. I am sick to death of the conference model. The workshop model is much more interesting.

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Categories: communication, digital literacy, education, learning, technology

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