Arizona State English Department Research Presentation

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The research presentation (job talk) I gave when I interviewed for the faculty position at Arizona State University.

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Arizona State English Department Research Presentation

  1. 1. The Design is the Game: Writing Games, Teaching Writing Alice J. Robison, Massachusetts Institute of Technology http://alicerobison.org Sunday, March 16, 2008 1
  2. 2. Why Design? Sunday, March 16, 2008 2
  3. 3. Why Design? Design can be used to think about: Sunday, March 16, 2008 2
  4. 4. Why Design? Design can be used to think about: Rhetorical moves, decisions, audiences; Sunday, March 16, 2008 2
  5. 5. Why Design? Design can be used to think about: Rhetorical moves, decisions, audiences; Purposeful constructions of meaning; Sunday, March 16, 2008 2
  6. 6. Why Design? Design can be used to think about: Rhetorical moves, decisions, audiences; Purposeful constructions of meaning; Multi-modal compositions with specific contexts, “art with a purpose”; Sunday, March 16, 2008 2
  7. 7. Why Design? Design can be used to think about: Rhetorical moves, decisions, audiences; Purposeful constructions of meaning; Multi-modal compositions with specific contexts, “art with a purpose”; Literacy practices that move beyond alphabetical literacy and inscribed texts; and Sunday, March 16, 2008 2
  8. 8. Why Design? Design can be used to think about: Rhetorical moves, decisions, audiences; Purposeful constructions of meaning; Multi-modal compositions with specific contexts, “art with a purpose”; Literacy practices that move beyond alphabetical literacy and inscribed texts; and Meaning in a variety of technologies, tools, interchanges, instantiations; attention to time, space, movement. Sunday, March 16, 2008 2
  9. 9. Why Design? Design can be used to think about: Rhetorical moves, decisions, audiences; Purposeful constructions of meaning; Multi-modal compositions with specific contexts, “art with a purpose”; Literacy practices that move beyond alphabetical literacy and inscribed texts; and Meaning in a variety of technologies, tools, interchanges, instantiations; attention to time, space, movement. Sunday, March 16, 2008 2
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  22. 22. Design is Not an Add-On Technical stuff: we can now use cool stuff to do the same kinds of things we have previously known; a “physical-industrial” mindset-- individualized, enclosed, product-centered, hierarchical Ethos stuff: co-existence of physical space and cyberspace; a “cyberspatial, post-industrial” mindset-- collective, distributed, decentered, process-focused, change-based Lankshear & Knobel, 2006 Sunday, March 16, 2008 4
  23. 23. Design is Not Just Form, Either The internet isn’t something you dump something on. It’s not a dump truck. It’s...it’s a series of tubes.” John Hodgman’s Reply Ted Stevens Remix Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) Sunday, March 16, 2008 5
  24. 24. Designs are Literacy Practices Sunday, March 16, 2008 6
  25. 25. Designs are Literacy Practices Literacy is therefore not just about consumption (reading, decoding) and production (writing, creating) but also about participation within a context as a result of available means, tools, histories, experiences, communities, affinities. Sunday, March 16, 2008 6
  26. 26. Designs are Literacy Practices Literacy is therefore not just about consumption (reading, decoding) and production (writing, creating) but also about participation within a context as a result of available means, tools, histories, experiences, communities, affinities. Literacy is not just about critique but also about design: doesn’t simply reflect back but also “shapes the future through deliberate representational resources in the designer’s interest” (Kress 2000) Sunday, March 16, 2008 6
  27. 27. The “New” Literacy Studies Sunday, March 16, 2008 7
  28. 28. The “New” Literacy Studies A model of literacy as a social rather than autonomous, never happens in the same way, dependent on situations and context. “Multiliteracies” vary over time, space, history, experience, tools, access, affiliations, affinities. Emphasis on “literacy on the ground:” anthropological methods, social interactions, cultural discourses. Attention to the local. Literacy is “bound up” with social, cultural, and institutional conventions. Major researchers: “New London Group,” Gunther Kress, Colin Lankshear, Michele Knobel, Glynda Hull, Brian Street, Bill Cope, Mary Kalantzis, James Gee, Deborah Brandt, Cynthia Selfe, Gail Hawisher, Webb, Goggin, etc. Sunday, March 16, 2008 7
  29. 29. New Media Literacies Sunday, March 16, 2008 8
  30. 30. New Media Literacies Play: the capacity to experiment as a form of problem-solving Performance: the ability to adopt alternative identities for improvisation and discovery Simulation: the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real-world processes Appropriation: the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content Multitasking: the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as-needed to salient details Distributed Cognition: the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities Collective Intelligence: the ability to pool knowledge with others toward a common goal Judgment: the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources Transmedia Navigation: the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities Networking: the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information Negotiation: the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and inspecting multiple perspectives Sunday, March 16, 2008 8
  31. 31. Videogames Enact the New Media Literacies Sunday, March 16, 2008 9
  32. 32. Videogames Enact the New Media Literacies Communities of practice (Lave & Wenger) Semiotic domains and affinity spaces (Gee, 2003) Identity play, experiential learning that leads to motivation Active, critical learning; meta-cognition and reflection Zones of proximal development (Vygotsky) “Constellations” of literacy practices (Steinkuehler) Designed experiences (Robison, Squire) Sunday, March 16, 2008 9
  33. 33. Researching Videogame Design Sunday, March 16, 2008 10
  34. 34. Researching Videogame Design Given that games, as interactive texts, not only represent cutting-edge theories of learning and cognition but also inspire sophisticated literacy practices, to what degree can we attribute that to their design? Sunday, March 16, 2008 10
  35. 35. Researching Videogame Design Given that games, as interactive texts, not only represent cutting-edge theories of learning and cognition but also inspire sophisticated literacy practices, to what degree can we attribute that to their design? What are the literacy practices of videogame designers and developers? What is the context of creation? What are the cultural models and Discourses of videogame designers and developers? Sunday, March 16, 2008 10
  36. 36. Methods Qualitative ethnography, participant observation, artifact analysis, discursive analysis, thematic analysis; rooted in traditions of the New Literacy Studies (Barton, et. al 2000; Street 1998; Gee, et. al 1996) Dissertation consisted of: 3 year study, 200+ hours of fieldwork; more than two dozen independent and commercial designers interviewed and observed on-site; 500 pages of data, artifacts, designer-written publications; and transcriptions of semi-structured interviews, on-site study of Gamelab (NYC) during the making of “Diner Dash.” Sunday, March 16, 2008 11
  37. 37. Who makes games? 85% male, 11.5% female 83% white, 2% black, 2.5% hispanic or latino, 7.5% Asian 92% heterosexual Average age = 31 Average years in industry = 5.4 College degrees = 80% More than 60% of studios claim that “recruiting diverse applicants is challenging” International Game Developers’ Assoc., Sunday, March 16, 2008 12
  38. 38. Chris on Creating Stories Sunday, March 16, 2008 13
  39. 39. Chris on Creating Stories “You could just look at a game as a time-killing exercise. But that doesn’t feel nearly as worthwhile as creating a game that generates stories between players.... It’s creating those unique and very memorable experiences that are much better than “yeah it took me 60 hours to get my character to that level” Sunday, March 16, 2008 13
  40. 40. Chris on Creating Stories “You could just look at a Rhetorical awareness game as a time-killing exercise. But that doesn’t feel nearly as worthwhile as creating a game that generates stories between players.... It’s creating those unique and very memorable experiences that are much better than “yeah it took me 60 hours to get my character to that level” Sunday, March 16, 2008 13
  41. 41. Chris on Creating Stories “You could just look at a Rhetorical awareness game as a time-killing exercise. But that doesn’t feel Social conversations are nearly as worthwhile as persuasive goals creating a game that generates stories between players.... It’s creating those unique and very memorable experiences that are much better than “yeah it took me 60 hours to get my character to that level” Sunday, March 16, 2008 13
  42. 42. Chris on Creating Stories “You could just look at a Rhetorical awareness game as a time-killing exercise. But that doesn’t feel Social conversations are nearly as worthwhile as persuasive goals creating a game that generates stories between Text of game is a catalyst for players.... It’s creating those player-experience, social unique and very memorable identity, meaningful play experiences that are much better than “yeah it took me 60 hours to get my character to that level” Sunday, March 16, 2008 13
  43. 43. Chris on Creating Stories “You could just look at a Rhetorical awareness game as a time-killing exercise. But that doesn’t feel Social conversations are nearly as worthwhile as persuasive goals creating a game that generates stories between Text of game is a catalyst for players.... It’s creating those player-experience, social unique and very memorable identity, meaningful play experiences that are much better than “yeah it took me Adoption of identity of player 60 hours to get my character to that level” Sunday, March 16, 2008 13
  44. 44. Chris on Creating Stories “You could just look at a Rhetorical awareness game as a time-killing exercise. But that doesn’t feel Social conversations are nearly as worthwhile as persuasive goals creating a game that generates stories between Text of game is a catalyst for players.... It’s creating those player-experience, social unique and very memorable identity, meaningful play experiences that are much better than “yeah it took me Adoption of identity of player 60 hours to get my character to that level” Sunday, March 16, 2008 13
  45. 45. Chris on the Writing Process Sunday, March 16, 2008 14
  46. 46. Chris on the Writing Process “I start with what I want one person to say to another when they chat about my game. I’m looking for the “you have to play this game because ‘X’... Then I work backwards and build the features which support those statements. Typically I bookend my design work with one global statement about the game (its overall user goal) and various statements about experiences I want players to have and enjoy.” Sunday, March 16, 2008 14
  47. 47. Chris on the Writing Process “I start with what I want one person Rhetorical awareness to say to another when they chat about my game. I’m looking for the “you have to play this game because ‘X’... Then I work backwards and build the features which support those statements. Typically I bookend my design work with one global statement about the game (its overall user goal) and various statements about experiences I want players to have and enjoy.” Sunday, March 16, 2008 14
  48. 48. Chris on the Writing Process “I start with what I want one person Rhetorical awareness to say to another when they chat about my game. I’m looking for the Social conversations are “you have to play this game writing goals because ‘X’... Then I work backwards and build the features which support those statements. Typically I bookend my design work with one global statement about the game (its overall user goal) and various statements about experiences I want players to have and enjoy.” Sunday, March 16, 2008 14
  49. 49. Chris on the Writing Process “I start with what I want one person Rhetorical awareness to say to another when they chat about my game. I’m looking for the Social conversations are “you have to play this game writing goals because ‘X’... Then I work backwards and build the features Adoption of identity of player which support those statements. Typically I bookend my design work with one global statement about the game (its overall user goal) and various statements about experiences I want players to have and enjoy.” Sunday, March 16, 2008 14
  50. 50. Chris on the Writing Process “I start with what I want one person Rhetorical awareness to say to another when they chat about my game. I’m looking for the Social conversations are “you have to play this game writing goals because ‘X’... Then I work backwards and build the features Adoption of identity of player which support those statements. Typically I bookend my design work with one global statement about the Principles of design used to game (its overall user goal) and reverse-engineer experience various statements about experiences I want players to have and enjoy.” Sunday, March 16, 2008 14
  51. 51. Chris on the Writing Process “I start with what I want one person Rhetorical awareness to say to another when they chat about my game. I’m looking for the Social conversations are “you have to play this game writing goals because ‘X’... Then I work backwards and build the features Adoption of identity of player which support those statements. Typically I bookend my design work with one global statement about the Principles of design used to game (its overall user goal) and reverse-engineer experience various statements about experiences I want players to have Literacy practices of players and enjoy.” used to frame design work Sunday, March 16, 2008 14
  52. 52. Merci on PMOG “I feel like you actually feel like the Digital literacy ethos-- web is web is a place, not like it’s a series decentered but also a present of separate places. But that you are space in this one sphere of activity with all of these people at the same time. Meaningful co-presence And this is just surfing of course, not like being on an AIM or whatever-- This is a new way of being, a new then you’re just obviously with model of conversation that’s not just people online. But this is allowing about text other players to influence what your Literacies, meanings, practices are experience is like, and influencing all reciprocal and reflexive the surfing experiences of other players as well.” All players are designers of meaningful experiences Sunday, March 16, 2008 15
  53. 53. My research shows that game designers... Sunday, March 16, 2008 16
  54. 54. My research shows that game designers... Are writers for a context. Writing is design here because it involves art for a purpose. Sunday, March 16, 2008 16
  55. 55. My research shows that game designers... Are writers for a context. Writing is design here because it involves art for a purpose. Communicate semiotically: signs, symbols, genres, puzzles, problems, practices, identities, win-states, code languages. Sunday, March 16, 2008 16
  56. 56. My research shows that game designers... Are writers for a context. Writing is design here because it involves art for a purpose. Communicate semiotically: signs, symbols, genres, puzzles, problems, practices, identities, win-states, code languages. Teach players how to play the game and succeed with finishing, winning, understanding, learning. Sunday, March 16, 2008 16
  57. 57. My research shows that game designers... Are writers for a context. Writing is design here because it involves art for a purpose. Communicate semiotically: signs, symbols, genres, puzzles, problems, practices, identities, win-states, code languages. Teach players how to play the game and succeed with finishing, winning, understanding, learning. Expect players to engage in meta-critical analysis of how the game is designed. Sunday, March 16, 2008 16
  58. 58. My research shows that game designers... Are writers for a context. Writing is design here because it involves art for a purpose. Communicate semiotically: signs, symbols, genres, puzzles, problems, practices, identities, win-states, code languages. Teach players how to play the game and succeed with finishing, winning, understanding, learning. Expect players to engage in meta-critical analysis of how the game is designed. Write collaboratively, share authorship, incorporate both professional and personal discourses. Sunday, March 16, 2008 16
  59. 59. My research shows that game designers... Are writers for a context. Writing is design here because it involves art for a purpose. Communicate semiotically: signs, symbols, genres, puzzles, problems, practices, identities, win-states, code languages. Teach players how to play the game and succeed with finishing, winning, understanding, learning. Expect players to engage in meta-critical analysis of how the game is designed. Write collaboratively, share authorship, incorporate both professional and personal discourses. Purposely create games that are meant to be interpreted and learned socially. Sunday, March 16, 2008 16
  60. 60. Questions for Teachers Working with New Media How can you think about the problem or project of designing and developing curriculum as a set of design constraints? Instead of thinking of writing as skill, can we think of it in terms of experience or sets of practices within particular contexts? How therefore do we craft opportunities for meaning making practices with new media? What does that afford a student that other forms of composing, reading, and interpreting texts do not? If we think about writing as literacy--that is, tied closely to reading--what does that mean for working with new media? Sunday, March 16, 2008 17
  61. 61. Principles for Designing Writing Courses Sunday, March 16, 2008 18
  62. 62. Principles for Designing Writing Courses Conceive of writing as a set of meaning-making practices and experiences that happen both in and outside the classroom, in formal and informal ways, as culturally and socially situated in learners’ contexts. Sunday, March 16, 2008 18
  63. 63. Principles for Designing Writing Courses Conceive of writing as a set of meaning-making practices and experiences that happen both in and outside the classroom, in formal and informal ways, as culturally and socially situated in learners’ contexts. Allow for social collaboration and meta-reflection on that collaborative experience. Employ opportunities for collective intelligence, distributed cognition. Sunday, March 16, 2008 18
  64. 64. Principles for Designing Writing Courses Conceive of writing as a set of meaning-making practices and experiences that happen both in and outside the classroom, in formal and informal ways, as culturally and socially situated in learners’ contexts. Allow for social collaboration and meta-reflection on that collaborative experience. Employ opportunities for collective intelligence, distributed cognition. Understand users of new media as not just consumers and producers but also as participants within particular contexts, media-uses, and media cultures. Sunday, March 16, 2008 18
  65. 65. Principles for Designing Writing Courses Conceive of writing as a set of meaning-making practices and experiences that happen both in and outside the classroom, in formal and informal ways, as culturally and socially situated in learners’ contexts. Allow for social collaboration and meta-reflection on that collaborative experience. Employ opportunities for collective intelligence, distributed cognition. Understand users of new media as not just consumers and producers but also as participants within particular contexts, media-uses, and media cultures. Constructivist models of learning: emphasis on the socio-cultural; problem-based and project-based learning; making power differentials known; community-driven expertise. Sunday, March 16, 2008 18
  66. 66. Literacies are Social Practices To view literacy as a neutral cognitive event not only fails to understand how what being learned is a particular way of doing something--a way that indexes particular values, ideological projects, historical events, and beliefs--but, too, how learning is mediated by social variables, in which case, due to this particularity, one’s primary Discourse might inform a ‘way of being’ in the world that is fundamentally at odds with the literacy form one is expected to learn.” Clinton, 2003 Sunday, March 16, 2008 19
  67. 67. Final Comment Sunday, March 16, 2008 20
  68. 68. Final Comment Understanding how media are composed, designed, produced, and consumed by communities of users is the first step in determining models for designing and assessing writing-and-new-media curricula. We have to understand the underlying principles of those practices. We can only know that by working from the inside-out. Sunday, March 16, 2008 20
  69. 69. Final Comment Understanding how media are composed, designed, produced, and consumed by communities of users is the first step in determining models for designing and assessing writing-and-new-media curricula. We have to understand the underlying principles of those practices. We can only know that by working from the inside-out. We have to see these composing activities as opportunities for making meaning in-context, according to the values of its participants. Sunday, March 16, 2008 20
  70. 70. Final Comment Understanding how media are composed, designed, produced, and consumed by communities of users is the first step in determining models for designing and assessing writing-and-new-media curricula. We have to understand the underlying principles of those practices. We can only know that by working from the inside-out. We have to see these composing activities as opportunities for making meaning in-context, according to the values of its participants. As with all planned writing activities, if goals are well-articulated and well- researched, if they are considered carefully and critically, and if tasks are linked closely to their purpose, it becomes less complex to gauge the degree to which the products are valuable at the end of the composing process. Sunday, March 16, 2008 20
  71. 71. Assessment Principles Sunday, March 16, 2008 21
  72. 72. Assessment Principles If new media and writing are treated as literacy experiences based on participation and not simply production, models for assessment become more accessible. What counts as “good” in these spaces is determined by its communities. Users of new media organize by their expertise and affinities, not necessarily by production skills. New media, as socially-connected and collaborative spaces, lend themselves well to more organic assessment models. Sunday, March 16, 2008 21

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