Thesis games as artistic mediumof learning

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Thesis games as artistic mediumof learning

  1. 1. The Pennsylvania State University The Graduate School Department of Art Education GAMES AS ARTISTIC MEDIUM: INTERFACING COMPLEXITY THEORY IN GAME-BASED ART PEDAGOGY A Dissertation in Art Education by Ryan Matthew Patton © 2011 Ryan Matthew Patton Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy August 2011
  2. 2. All rights reserved INFORMATION TO ALL USERS The quality of this reproduction is dependent on the quality of the copy submitted. In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed, a note will indicate the deletion. All rights reserved. This edition of the work is protected against unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code. ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway P.O. Box 1346 Ann Arbor, MI 48106 - 1346 UMI 3483732 Copyright 2011 by ProQuest LLC. UMI Number: 3483732
  3. 3. ii The dissertation of Ryan Patton was reviewed and approved* by the following: Karen T. Keifer-Boyd Professor of Art Education & Women’s Studies Art Education Graduate Coordinator Chair of Committee Charles R. Garoian Professor of Art Education Matthew Kenyon Assistant Professor of Art Brian K. Smith Associate Professor of Information Sciences and Technology *Signatures are on file in the Graduate School
  4. 4. iii ABSTRACT Having computer skills, let alone access to a personal computer, has become a necessary component of contemporary Western society and many parts of the world. Digital media literacy involves youth being able to view, participate in, and make creative works with technologies in personal and meaningful ways. Games, defined in this study as structured play, provided the foundation for many of the works from 20th century art movements, such as Dadaism, Surrealism, Situationism, and Fluxus. I argue that these artists used games as methods to explore and expose rules and systems in ways of understanding the world through art. I describe how these artworks embodied complexity thinking in their use of game making methods to expose social, political, economic, and environmental systems. The game-based art pedagogy derived from this art history, also draws from the features of game-like unit operations (Bogost, 2006), strategies and tactics (de Certeau, 1997), and infinite play (Carse, 1987) to foster a critical aesthetic. Complexity thinking (or complexity theory), represents a way for constructing meaning that involves the integration of multiple types of systems, including dynamic models, closed- looped systems, and the ability to transfer one model of a system to another situation or phenomenon. Emergent behavior is supported in the complex systems modeled in video games such as SimCity and Civilization. Much of game-based art pedagogy research centers on students learning by playing games. Learning history or other factual data in the form of games has value, however using games in this way does not encapsulate games as an artistic medium for creative purposes, only as a means for teaching. That is, while students created video games in a variety of classroom environments over the last fifteen years, typically it was done to learn subjects like math, computer science, or to develop language skills.
  5. 5. iv In my action research study, I began with the premise based on my prior teaching experience, that video game creation was an attainable goal by youth, and a valuable studio project in the art classroom to understand complexity in social systems, and learn an art history of games as artworks. I recruited youth (ages of 8-13) and taught them how to make games in four iterations of a game creation course. The make-up of the courses comprised one class of middle school girls, two classes of elementary school children, and one class of middle school boys and girls. Each class met during a five-day course, learning concepts and methods of game development by playing and making physical, board, and video games. New curricular elements for the research included a physical game activity, a mobile game using 2-D barcodes, a tabletop game connecting the video game instruction, and game cards written as independent programmable unit operations. Students made video games that used the concepts of move, avoid, release, and contact (MARC) as a method I designed for exploring complexity thinking. I observed and recorded the participants’ game making process; collected their games, journals, and pre and post surveys; and from these observations and feedback, I reviewed and revised the curriculum for each class. I interviewed the other course instructors who used the curriculum that I developed providing additional insight to the pedagogy, delivery of the curriculum, and student learning. Three months after the courses ended, a sample set of students and parents took part in follow-up interviews regarding the impact of the course. Because games, specifically digital games (also called video games), are seen as potentially corrupting to children, I gathered parental input on their child’s involvement. At the center of this study’s curriculum, playful, game-like methods were used to create game-based artworks. Students critiqued games using detailed, expressive language to describe how games work, critically aware of how commercial games differ in complexity. From their game making experiences, students gained confidence and knowledge finding game structures in
  6. 6. v everyday life and how to make programmable media like video games. This study argues that learning through game-based art pedagogy, students begin to understand complexity thinking by producing digital media as a form of artistic expression, and as a form of preparation for future learning in and beyond a 4-12th grade art curriculum.
  7. 7. vi TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................................. ix LIST OF TABLES .................................................................................................................. x ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................................... xi Chapter 1 Source Code........................................................................................................... 1 Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 1 Purpose of Study: Game-based Art Pedagogy and Complexity...................................... 8 Complexity Theory/Thinking .................................................................................. 11 Research Questions.......................................................................................................... 12 Significance of Study....................................................................................................... 13 Limitations of Study ................................................................................................ 13 Dissertation Roadmap...................................................................................... 16 Chapter 2 Art Games.............................................................................................................. 17 Debating Games as Art.................................................................................................... 17 A Brief Art History of Games ......................................................................................... 20 Game-based Pedagogy .................................................................................................... 27 Game Studies: A History................................................................................................. 27 Game-based Pedagogy: Historical Examples.......................................................... 29 Quest to Learn: Game-based Pedagogy at Work............................................................. 31 Preparation for Future Learning (PFL).................................................................... 34 Games as Interfaces ................................................................................................. 36 Complexity Thinking....................................................................................................... 38 Complexity Thinking and Art Education ........................................................................ 42 Unit Operations: Code as Text................................................................................. 44 Strategies and Tactics .............................................................................................. 45 Infinite Play ............................................................................................................. 47 Chapter 3 Research Methodology: Action Research.............................................................. 50 Games as a Form of Artistic Production.......................................................................... 50 Prior Game Curriculum ................................................................................................... 52 Games as Art Curriculum................................................................................................ 52 Game Maker Interface ............................................................................................. 53 How Game Maker Works ................................................................................ 54 Previous Game Curriculum ..................................................................................... 55 Four Iterations of the Game Curriculum for Action Research Study ...................... 56 Action Research with Qualitative Data ........................................................................... 61 Role of the Researcher..................................................................................................... 63 Research Assessment/Data Sets for Analysis.................................................................. 65 Selection of Research Participants........................................................................... 66 Data Recording Procedures ..................................................................................... 66
  8. 8. vii Data Analysis Strategies.......................................................................................... 67 Strategies for Validating Findings ................................................................... 67 Anticipated Ethical Issues................................................................................ 68 Narrative Structure................................................................................................... 68 Presentation of Final Report............................................................................................ 69 Chapter 4 Reseach Findings: Game-based Art Pedagogy in Action ...................................... 70 Game Curriculum: Physical Spaces of Embodied Learning ........................................... 70 Planning the Physical Space as Game Curriculum.................................................. 70 Physical Space in Action: Week One .............................................................. 73 Physical Space in Reflection: Analysis of the First Physical Game ................ 75 Teachers’ Reflection/Analysis......................................................................... 76 Change in Physical Space: Modifications to the Physical Game Curriculum–the Smithsonian...................................................................................................... 79 Game Curriculum: Tabletop Worlds ............................................................................... 83 Planning and Playing Tabletop Worlds: Penn State ................................................ 83 Critique of Popular Tabletop Worlds: Evidence of Complexity...................... 84 Creating Personal Tabletop Worlds................................................................. 87 Reflection/Analysis of Personal Tabletop Worlds: Luck Rather Than Complex................................................................................................... 89 Change in Tabletop Worlds: The Smithsonian........................................................ 90 Game Curriculum: Video Games as Virtual Worlds....................................................... 94 Planning Virtual Worlds.......................................................................................... 94 Making Virtual Worlds: Production and Reflection on Complexity ............... 96 Teachers’ Reflection/Analysis................................................................................. 101 Teachers’ Preconceived Ideas.......................................................................... 101 Teachers’ Post-camp Reflection/Assessment .................................................. 105 Change in Virtual Space: Modifications to the Video Game Curriculum–The Smithsonian...................................................................................................... 112 Weeks One and Two........................................................................................ 112 Weeks Three and Four: New Media and Art Education Instructor.................. 116 Weeks Four and Five: Principle Investigator and Art Education Instructor.... 119 Game Curriculum: Three-month Follow-up.................................................................... 122 Student Understanding of Complexity .................................................................... 122 Gale: Playing with Health and the Everyday................................................... 122 Gina: Making Games from Life....................................................................... 126 Stewart: Designing Emergent Complexity ...................................................... 129 Reflecting on the use of MARC and new understanding of games and systems..... 132 Sawyer: Seeing MARC in Commercial Games............................................... 132 Gabbie: Avoid Found Elsewhere..................................................................... 132 Sam: The Unit Operations of MARC Everywhere .......................................... 133 Gitka: Games in the Play of Everyday Life ..................................................... 134 Saddie: School Shares Systems with Games ................................................... 134 Gina: Recognizing the Complexity of Game Code.......................................... 135 Gale, Gina and Spencer: MARC Important to Gameplay................................ 136 Santos: Understanding Systems and Patterns by Making Games.................... 137 Parents: Post-Course Assessment ............................................................................ 138 Parents: Could Making Games be Good for School? .............................................. 139
  9. 9. viii Chapter 5 Discussion and Conclusion.................................................................................... 142 Discussion of the Research Questions............................................................................. 142 Response to Research Question One: MARC and Critical Art Structures .............. 143 Response to Research Question Two: Game Making and Complexity Thinking ... 146 Implications of This Study .............................................................................................. 150 Suggestions for Further Study ......................................................................................... 155 Works Cited............................................................................................................................. 164 Appendix A Game Booklet .................................................................................................... 181 Appendix B Game Maker Tutorial......................................................................................... 196 Appendix C Game Cards........................................................................................................ 220 Appendix D Camp Survey...................................................................................................... 236 Appendix E Three-Month Post-Survey Questions................................................................. 239 Appendix F Recruitment Flyer............................................................................................... 240 Appendix G Smithsonian Physical Game .............................................................................. 241 Appendix H Tabletop Version of Video Game Tutorial ........................................................ 244
  10. 10. ix LIST OF FIGURES Figure 2-1: MARC .................................................................................................................. 45 Figure 4-1: QR Code for Penn State game............................................................................. 73 Figure 4-2: Students at Penn State Course using QR codes................................................... 74 Figure 4-3: The Game of Swirls............................................................................................. 88 Figure 4-4: Super Pac-Man Land ........................................................................................... 89 Figure 4-5: Jenga Tower Defense........................................................................................... 91 Figure 4-6: Ninja Cow............................................................................................................ 98 Figure 4-7: IPod Touch vs Robber ......................................................................................... 99 Figure 4-8: Surfer Game using MARC .................................................................................. 113 Figure 4-9: BP Oil Game using MARC ................................................................................. 114 Figure 4-10: Gale’s Ronald’s Revenge–Thin Player.............................................................. 123 Figure 4-11: Gale’s Ronald’s Revenge–Fat Player ................................................................ 123 Figure 4-12: Afroman............................................................................................................. 128 Figure 4-13: Stewart’s Game Staying Alive (initially) .......................................................... 130 Figure 4-14: Stewart’s Game Staying Alive (adjusted for complexity)................................. 131 Figure 5-1: Student Designed Game Interfaces...................................................................... 160
  11. 11. x LIST OF TABLES Table 3-1: Game Study Daily Schedule .................................................................................. 57 Table 3-2: Game Study Teaching Schedule ........................................................................... 64 Table 4-1: Pre & Post-Survey–Likelihood of Making a Game. ............................................. 151 Table 4-2: Pre & Post-Survey–Ability to Explain how to Make or Modify a Video Game .. 152 Table 4-3: Pre & Post-Survey–Likelihood to Take Future Classes that Focus on Computers or Technology ............................................................................................... 152
  12. 12. xi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The list of people that have been a influential to this process over the course of my lifetime are too numerous to mention, however I will try to give an abbreviated account that is suitable for these pages. I first would like to thank all of those who were directly involved with the implementation of the study: Jaquan Washington, Brian Franklin, Bob Sweeny, Kyle Hood, Brian Maynard, Nate Kling, Curt Kling, Jamie Hollingsworth, Jan Mahar, and Molly & Tony Wagner. Without the help and support of these people the study would not have been possible. I would also like to thank the students and families that took part in the study, supporting the advancement of research. I also would like to thank some of my former students and fellow teachers. The experience I had working with Dale Gentry, Asondre Taylor, Wilbert Echeverria, Jeevon Kondayya, Mochan, Ramon Monegro, Ilene Colbert-Smith, Cindy Salcedo, Anne Flanagan, Derick Schuelein, Harry Rios, Pierre Williams, Brianne McGuinness, Paula Berg, Bobby Zerega, Sharron Smalls, Bernardo Ascona, and Clara Janis helped make me the teacher I am today. I also would like to thank my committee for all of their support and insights to my study. To my chair, Karen Keifer-Boyd, I can’t possibly thank her enough in these few pages for the countless hours she has spent with me over the years helping me through this process. I can only hope to be as good of a mentor and advisor as she has been with me. Her limitless energy shows the field of art education what is possible. To Charles Garioan, the committee member I have known the longest, his vast knowledge of art and theory challenged me to push my writing and the thoughts behind the words on the page. To Matt Kenyon, much of this study is a result of the conversations, examples, and views we shared over the years. While Matt is my contemporary in age, I deeply value his mentorship. To Brian K. Smith,
  13. 13. xii while he served as the external member of the committee, much of the dissertation was written with his voice in my head. I would also like to thank my family. To my father James, mother Diane, and brother Michael, for all the support they have shown over my lifetime, pushing me to think outside of myself and drive me to pursue my interests to my fullest potential. To my grandparents, aunts, uncles, niece, nephew, and in-laws, I want to include you in my thanks for the support and kindness you have given me. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Julianne, who joined me on this adventure in the last stages. While we were both working on our dissertations, you made sure that you were there for me, keeping everything in perspective, pushing me when necessary, holding me up when I was down. This document is as much yours as it is mine. I love you.
  14. 14. 1 Chapter 1 Source Code Introduction When I was nine years old, the film WarGames with Matthew Broderick, was released in 1983. I remember being awestruck, not at the threat of nuclear war like in the movie The Day After (1983), which developed my fears about nuclear annihilation. Nor was I enthralled with the WarGames storyline about a computer controlling the United States missile system. I was, however, interested in how Broderick’s character could use electronics in such innovative ways. Broderick was able to “hack” into school to change his grades and make free long distance calls through “phone phreaking.” Later through research and applying his knowledge of computers, Broderick connected to a defense department computer system that has what he suspects are the latest computer games. In 1983 for most people, myself included, modems and the Internet were things of science fiction. Yet, the speculative fiction of WarGames foreshadowed our connectivity through the computers. WarGames also introduced me to the system and file structures inherent in computer logic. Around this time, my friends played video games in their homes with the Magnavox Odyssey and the Atari 2600. Our family didn’t own a game system but one of my dad’s friends had an Apple III where I played games like Lemonade Stand (Kellner, 1979), The Oregon Trail (Rawitsch, Dillenberger, & Heinemann, 1981) and text-based versions of football and Star Wars. In part, since the graphics were limited and home computers were new, I remember being more interested in how the machines and programs worked rather than the games themselves. A few years later our family purchased an Apple IIc of our own, not an Atari or a Nintendo, the latest
  15. 15. 2 game console at the time. Looking back, my parents had quite a few card and board games in the house, but did not want my brother and I to have a game console. I think my parents saw a limited value to video games, or at least the cost of them. We played video games at our friends’ houses but weren’t allowed to “waste our money” at the arcade or the local convenience store. In 1985, my older brother and I received as a gift, the game Lode Runner (Smith, 1983) for the Apple II computer. Lode Runner involves moving the player around the room to collect the gold while avoiding robots. The player stops or slows down robots by digging holes, rendered by the player releasing something that looks like stardust. When the player collects the gold by physically contacting all of the gold, a ladder appeared to take the player to the next level. Lode Runner also had a unique feature for the time, a level editor, giving players the option to create new levels. Both my older brother and I spent many hours creating new levels, playing for the sake of ongoing play rather than to reach an endpoint. I was also developing a database of my comic book collection and began to understand how data can be delineated. I taught myself how to copy files and turn a read-only disk to a read-and-write disk, motivated by my desire to unlock and produce work rather than consume what others produced. All of these activities helped shape my understanding and confidence with technology. This confidence made exploring the complexities of technology less scary and developed a personal drive in me to know how electronic/digital objects and systems worked. At public school I learned very little about programming. The lessons were abstract and formalized, like a biology and physics lab assignment in which students reproduced the example, and answered standardized questions about the task performed. In school we used computer programs such as The Oregon Trail and typing software, where my classmates and I became exposed to glitches in software. We outsmarted the computer logic to move The Oregon Trail game money in our game bank accounts, and improved our typing speed. I identified with Broderick’s WarGames character as one of many young people appearing in popular culture and
  16. 16. 3 the news in the 1980s and ‘90s that revealed that many computer hackers and makers were young people almost the same age as me (Levy, 1984). I identified from my school experiences and playing with computers at home that the preconceived complexity of these computer programs became more approachable, and I could take my personal interests and technological systems and fashion them to be relevant to me. During my undergraduate education in the mid 1990s, I double majored in history and art history, using computers only when I needed to write papers and occasionally check what was then a novelty e-mail account. I played console games and the first-person shooter game Doom II (1994) every now and then, but I knew that if I played games as much as I wanted, my grades would suffer. I graduated college in 1997 and began to take advantage of the Internet, exploring for hours the information that was once difficult to access, even at a Midwestern Research I university library. Through Internet searches, I could find job listings from newspapers on the east and west coasts of the United States. I could narrow my searches to the relevant job positions and respond, sending my resume by e-mail attachment. With this newfound access to information and communication from the World Wide Web, my proximity to the rest of the world from rural small town Iowa was inverted. The complexities of searching for jobs 1000 miles away were greatly reduced by the Web. Now I could contact a job prospect easily, avoid rummaging through piles of newspapers that were hard to locate, and move to a new city where I knew no one. I was empowered to make discoveries on my own, finding a more level playing field with people who were plugged into the amenities of cities and had access to the lived experience of the New York, Washington D.C., Boston and Seattle, and San Francisco. At my first fulltime job as an administrative assistant in a continuing education department in a mid-Atlantic university from 1997 to 2000, I devoured news and information easily available on the Internet, recognizing that computer skills were critical to the contemporary workplace, partly because of the hype of the dotcom bubble of the 1990s. During this time, I
  17. 17. 4 learned HTML code, and how to use multimedia authorware, image editing, video editing, and page layout software. When I started my master’s degree in 2000, I knew I wanted to learn more about the way digital art would develop and be used in art education. Among my first formal art teaching experiences, I taught Flash animation to students between the ages of 8 and 14 at the Smithsonian Associates in Washington D.C. beginning in 2002, and continuing on for the next nine years. This opportunity arose partly because I was willing to jump into teaching children digital art making while in its nascent stage, embracing technologies I knew little about rather than avoiding them. Each year, I noticed that students held more knowledge about computers and software than previous years. By 2006, the animation course moved away from teaching children how to use Flash, and focused more on narrative construction and expression with animation software as the medium. The Flash software we used at the Smithsonian was not the latest and greatest either. The version of Flash installed in 2010 was the same we used in 2001, irrelevant to the class goals. It was from these first few years of experience at the Smithsonian that I began thinking about how do I move the teaching of new media related material to my future public school students. In 2003, I began teaching at Jane Addams High School in the South Bronx section of New York City, hoping to make an impact on students’ lives, by motivating their enthusiasm to learn, and become excited about art. I was also motivated and eager to develop courses in new media, engage students in what I assumed were interests they held toward technology and media, and their desire to have professional skills in those fields. When I started at Jane Addams, the only computers available to students were used to teach basic typing skills, the same computer activities I had done 10 years earlier as a high school student. Over the three years that I taught at Jane Addams, the school received over eighty new computers, but continued to utilize them for the same basic office skills along with typing traditional research papers in the Math, Science, English, and Social Studies departments. The small rural town in Iowa I grew up in was a very
  18. 18. 5 different place from the large urban and ethnically diverse South Bronx. However, I also knew something about the need to pursue one’s own interests to find a niche in an environment that didn’t support moving beyond the neighborhood. Art and technology was a way for me to take risks and receive encouragement as a student. As I saw it, word processing and creating slide presentations involved neither risk-taking, nor building encouragement for the high school students. Many students at Jane Addams were unable to conceive their future connected to the school or larger community. Instead, students envisioned themselves being limited to the thug life that they heard in music or saw in the neighborhood street, impossible to move up in the world through education and hard work.1 Although the school had a number of role models from the South Bronx, also representing the Puerto Rican, Dominican, African-American, or other ethnic and gendered identities that the 15 to 18 year old students could relate to, these shared identities alone did not help students feel better about themselves, school, or personal situations. I aspired that art class could offer alternatives for students to find value in learning, and being creative or resourceful did not have to be criminal or boring. My hope was to create a space where students could explore ideas and objects they were interested in, demonstrating how lifelong learning can happen inside and outside of school. Projects in these introductory art classes included discussion and production of identity marks for entrepreneurial purposes, graffiti and its relevance to the local South Bronx community, and mathematics in art. These projects were designed to illustrate the complexity of how artistic processes can connect to the other subjects in the school and how these artistic problem solving and methods surround them in their everyday life. 1 When I talked to students about taking school seriously, I had more than one student show me a wad of cash and saying he made more money being on the street. Another example was when I was teaching students how to use the image editing program Photoshop and the Web development program Dreamweaver. When the students could see that I had design skills that could employ me elsewhere, they asked why was I at the school teaching them.
  19. 19. 6 Most students I taught had cell phones and digital game consoles, yet few students had computers at home. One student who came by my classroom regularly after school, had a cell phone and an X-box video game console, but did not have a computer and did not see the value of having or using one. Most of the video games this student played on his X-box were also available for the computer, however, he didn’t make the connection that video games could be a way to develop his computer knowledge.2 Jerone Mitchell, a math teacher and game instructor in a school in Dallas, spoke on the meaningful value of video games to education on NPR’s News and Notes roundtable (2008): People are investing in what they know about. If you don’t know what it means to be an engineer, then you can’t pursue that. If you don’t know that in theory you can actually download the code to create games for an X-box 360 … we need to be getting it out there to all communities, not just those communities that are conducive to that kind of thinking. While the NPR roundtable discussion focused on the practical application of motivating youth’s interest in careers in math and science, there was also concern about the images of minorities in video games and the social justice of access to digital technologies in meaningful contexts (Chideya, 2008). Mitchell’s sentiments on the importance of providing all communities with examples of professional careers and opportunities that excite and engage students in learning were guiding principles for the new media curriculum I was developing for the school’s art program. I envisioned a new media program that provided relevant job skills as part of the school’s vocational mission, allowing for personal expression, creative problem solving, and critical thinking through project-based activities. Unfortunately the administration’s vision of the art program was not in sync to this kind of thinking. 2 All digital games are described in this study as video games, which include games played on all types of display screens.
  20. 20. 7 During the same three years I was at Jane Addams, I continued teaching Flash animation at the Smithsonian Associates summer camps in Washington D.C.. The summer of 2006 after I left Jane Addams, I began teaching game development in addition to animation at the camps, something I continue to do in 2011. Students were taught introductory methods of game development from creating board games, critiquing popular board and video games, and making their own video games over the course of a week. As they made their own games, many students would see and understand how the systems, tools, and processes they were using could be deconstructed and reconstructed in ways that served their interests. For example, several students developed cheats, secret passages, and hidden messages or “easter eggs” in their games. The idea was to create the appearance that the games they made had insurmountable odds and only those with knowledge of the system could pass the level. This kind of unpacking and repacking of complex systems as an artistic practice is what I had envisioned for the curriculum at Jane Addams. Most of the students at the Smithsonian had access to the kind of educational resources that Jerone Mitchell talked about, being from middle class to upper middle class families. And although some of the Smithsonian students may not have excelled in school, many parents recognized their children’s interests and were proactive in continuing to develop those interests after the camp concluded. The curriculum, I conceived at Jane Addams, promoted using computers and new media technologies for vocational training, consistent with school’s mission and contemporary K-12 educational policies (The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004). Having computer skills, let alone access to a personal computer, has become a necessary component of contemporary Western society and continues to expand globally. This is considered so necessary that the United Nations is discussing, and countries like Estonia, France, Greece, and Finland have made access to broadband Internet a human right (Reisinger, 2009). Even if one does not have a computer at home, much of the North American and European services and social spheres have spread to
  21. 21. 8 electronic devices. The ubiquity of these technologies and the rapid obsolescence of electronics have made consumers passive, buying and installing software and hardware as part of the corporate product cycle loop of upgrades. As consumers this is done without investigating how the technologies are made or modified by people that use a learned body of knowledge. The term “digital divide” (Clinton, 1996) has evolved over time to include these users who remain consumers of the technology but do not have an awareness of how to create technology to perform as artwork. From these personal experiences, situated in societal conditions of the past 28 years, I see opportunities of significance for students to learn complexity thinking by producing video games in game-based art pedagogy, as a form of preparation for future learning in and beyond a 4-12th grade art curriculum. Purpose of Study: Game-based Art Pedagogy and Complexity In this study, I facilitated game-based art pedagogy aimed at engaging students with critical issues and complexity theory as art research and practice. Complexity theory is an umbrella concept designed to include, combine, and elaborate on the insights of any and all relevant domains of inquiry, such as economics, physics, and biology. Complexity theory (or complexity thinking) involves transdisciplinary research, using an array of theories such as constructivism, critical theory, and social theory simultaneously, rather than seeing these theories as being incompatible (Davis, Sumara, & Luce-Kapler, 2008). Complexity theory enables exploratory methods and approaches, responding dynamically to necessities or positions, and seeks commonalities with other domains of analysis (Sumara & Davis, 2009). For example, when the roles of a teacher are being defined, they are often metaphorically equated to those of a coach, improviser, nurturer, and emancipator. These seemingly disparate positions show how educators
  22. 22. 9 are called on to fulfill a complex set of skills and knowledge within the system of education (Barney, 2011). Complexity theory is not limited to education or human behavior. Steven Johnson, in his book Emergence (2002), describes how ants organize themselves into complex colonies, adapting to their environment as a collective intelligence. Johnson goes on to say that the complex, interconnected behavior of ants are also found in games like SimCity (1989), SimAnt (1991), and The Sims (2000). These games are simulations of complex dynamic systems, like cities, ant colonies, and the social, biological, political, economic, and environmental conditions of life. In these games, the player does not experience the game the same way twice. The games that students made in this study are not as complex as those commercially produced games mentioned above, however, students created dynamic systems through the making of games and developed their understanding of interconnected systems and complexity through this game-making process. The four iterations of a game creation project constituted the game-based art pedagogy that I conceptualized in this study. Each time the game project was taught, the feedback from previous projects and my reflections with the students and other instructors modified the teaching strategy. Several years of gathering data, reflecting on, and incorporating my experiences teaching games went into the video game and tabletop game components. New curricular elements for the research included a physical game activity, a mobile game using 2-D barcodes, a tabletop game connecting the video game instruction, and game cards written as independent programmable unit operations. This iterative process of gathering data, reflecting, and incorporating those experiences in the next round of participation was found in the process of game design and teaching practice. While students learned how to make games and begin to understand complex systems in this study, instructors learned how the complexity of developing curriculum corresponds with the dynamics involved in making games.
  23. 23. 10 While games, specifically video games, display the potential to provide meaningful learning experiences to specific subjects and systems, most supporters of games relate directly to the learning that stems from game playing activities (Gee, 2006; Jenkins, 2006a; Squire, 2004), while fewer concern themselves to the learning from producing games (Peppler & Kafai, 2008). In studies that focus on producing games, there is a propensity to match the game development to standardized test scores for math or language (Kafai, 1995; Pericles, 2007). By making games, students can explore and expose how game rules may be advantageous to some players, or provide equity to all in other cases. Through the examples and metaphors of games and producing video games and game interfaces, students can learn how the structures of games and probability correspond to the complexity of real world scenarios, a type of intervention for critical reflection on the similarities of game systems and social systems. My pedagogical goal was to develop a curriculum for students to learn through the imaginative process involved in making video games as artworks, and to understand complexity theory by critically considering the interlinking of the social, biological, political, economic, and environmental systems in which they live. To initiate this curriculum, I developed game course content over a four year period around the language of move, avoid, release, and contact (MARC).3 While the video game industry focuses on ludic and narrative qualities of games (Frasca, 1999), and developing a common formal language for game design, criticism, and technical research (Hunicke, LeBlanc, & Zubek, 2004), little is done to expose, examine, critique, and repurpose games as critical pedagogy. This curriculum can represent transgressive, transformative, or fundamental changes in our current educational system by using game methods to promote radical politics. Or, the 3 I developed MARC as a way to abstract the actions of many video games into a language that shows commonalities across video game genres (shooter, action-adventure, role-playing, strategy, etc.) that also describes events in everyday life within a game context.
  24. 24. 11 curriculum could foster incremental political change, using creative agency where change is made within the rules, or requires one to know the rules in order to change them. In this next section I give some examples to complexity theory in art education how games provide methods for students to think about and understand complex systems. Complexity Theory/Thinking Art educators discuss complexity theory in art education research. For example, researchers at the University of British Columbia framed the online sharing of student work for an art course using social networking sites to create emergent dialogues that can be documented, traced, and observed (Castro, Barney, & Kalin, 2008). Using complexity theory to frame their positions, these art educators describe how collaborative processes of art making and discussion dynamically draw from sources in daily life, and through historical, sociological, psychological, environmental, political, and physiological situations. Other scholars explain how artists like Stelarc made artworks that networked the artist’s body to viewers, while Etoy and ®TMark came together to create data-driven artworks, revealing how artistic community action can be emergent and complex (Sweeny, 2008). Quest to Learn is a New York City public school that uses for its curriculum game-based pedagogy, based in the educational philosophy that games require immersive, active participation, problem solving, and learning through rules-based systems (Quest to Learn: About Quest to Learn, 2009a). Students at Quest to Learn investigate geographic, mathematic, sociological, biological systems to convey how they are dynamic, and integrated like games. Quest to Learn uses a project-based curriculum, exploring systems and learning domains as games through a series of quests, puzzles, and problems. By theorizing, playing, and validating ideas, students find core principles to systems, relationships and discrepancies with others, to
  25. 25. 12 reveal the complexity of their lives. Game-based pedagogy is useful to teach complexity theory in the art classroom as well. The philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer (1960/2005) describes how the “to-and-fro movement” of game structures are also found in artistic processes, emergent and adaptive in nature, demanding immersion from the artist and viewer. When artistic practice dynamically combines relevant domains of inquiry as needed, and the space allows for participants to respond in ways that fall outside normative structures and experiences, this emergent, networked approach of art making takes on a complexity theory framework. Research Questions This research focused on how students understand systems and complexity through the making of games. By making games using the metaphors of move, avoid, release, and contact, my research examined the images, actions, and types of games developed by students, and how their understanding of systems and complexity were expressed through their games. 1. How can game-based art pedagogy using the game structures of MARC create a critical art structure that involves complexity thinking and systems? 2. Can the experiences of playing, critiquing, and making games and interfaces, specifically video games and computer-human interfaces, facilitate a critical awareness of how game structures (systems, rules, rewards, consequences, probability, etc.) can be understood and represented for students through game- based art pedagogy? If so, how are the experiences from making games supportive of complexity thinking?
  26. 26. 13 Significance of the Study While few research studies on the value of making games as art projects exist (Keifer- Boyd, 2005; Gill, 2009), no qualitative research in art education looks at the impact of making video games with students. Video game critiques are documented in the art education literature (Parks, 2008; Sweeny, 2009), not examples of classroom game production. Past student-made game studies in disciplines outside of art education focused on whether or not games were an efficient and effective way to teach math or language (Kafai, 1995; Robertson & Good, 2005), and are not focused on the creative, interactive components of game creation. My study devised, executed, and evaluated how game-based art pedagogy provides a model for understanding social, political, and environmental systems and how to critically analyze systems through complexity theory. Other studies outside of art education documented students making video games for computational learning (Seif El Nasr & Smith, 2006; Dalal, Dalal, Kak, Antonenko, & Stansberry, 2009), however, there are no art education studies focusing on creating games for the purpose of artistic and personal expression. My action research focused on teaching students complexity thinking through game- based art pedagogy. Using game-based art pedagogy, the teaching and curriculum are not dictated by standardized content, rather the study of the pedagogy concentrates on documenting ways students define and solve problems, see and define systems, determine multiple avenues to find answers and raise questions posed in the lessons, and produce tabletop and video games. Limitations of Study Emphasizing the art educational value of developing curriculum for student game creation, the study did not develop game curriculum for students to play exclusively. A number of
  27. 27. 14 scholars support playing games for their pedagogic benefit (Barab, Thomas, Dodge, Carteaux, & Tuzun, 2005; Gee, 2005; Squire, 2004); these studies do not share the same methodological and qualitative attention to the educational value of making games. Because it is beyond the scope of my study, I will not make distinctions to whether or not games are designed objects or art objects. This study contextualized games within the historical practices of artists and art movements throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century of new media art, showing that games are part of the history of art and can be included as part of the contemporary art classroom. These historic art games and ideas guided the development of this study’s curriculum and informed its final outcome. The recognized value of games in the history of art makes game creation credible art content for parents and school administrators. Contemporary artists using video games as a medium for art making receive widespread recognition for their works (Iles, Momin, & Singer, 2004; Jongema, 2006; Slocum & Ramocki, 2008). Artists working in the medium of video games were not discussed at length in the implementation of the game-based art pedagogy, but a few contemporary artists like Jason Rohrer4 and Jonathan Blow,5 whose artworks are game-based are cited as examples in the student curriculum (Appendix A). These video game examples will continue to grow and change as the curriculum becomes less focused on the making of video games as art, to making games that explore specific ideas and themes like other art forms. Limited to four iterations of teaching–i.e. planned, implemented, reflected upon, and changed–in this study; the curriculum and its content presented here will continue to change in future developments of game-based art pedagogy, particularly when systematically studied in the cyclical approach of action research. 4 Rohrer, J. http://hcsoftware.sourceforge.net/jason-rohrer/ 5 Blow, J. http://www.braid-game.com/
  28. 28. 15 A number of studies in art education focus on agency through the making and creating of one’s own avatar in game environments (Stokrocki, 2010; Liao, 2008; Hsiao, 2007). This study does not focus on avatar creation and agency through the characters that students create.6 Rather, in my study students created many game characters, developing not only visual avatars for all game characters, but creating the underlying code that allowed the characters, and other computer generated content they designed, to move and interact. The majority of students were males in three of the four classes used in the study. One class allowed only females to enroll in an effort to help develop and encourage girls to pursue careers in technology. In these four classes, gender differences were found in the visual and programmatic styles of the tabletop and video games students made. Gender differences in making games may be the focus of further research; however, the dissertation analysis does not prioritize gender or gender identity. This study desired cross sections of students from diverse economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. However, Caucasian students primarily signed up for the courses. While the Penn State course recruited from rural, underserved areas near the university, the group was ethnically and racially homogenous. Students in the Smithsonian courses came from the greater metropolitan area of Washington D.C., primarily of middle class and upper middle class backgrounds. In future iterations of the study, more research will be done with populations of diverse economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. 6 An avatar is an embodiment of a person or idea, often described in video games and other virtual worlds as a moveable icon representing the player.
  29. 29. 16 Dissertation Roadmap In the following chapters, I describe how games were an important part of the history of art in the 20th century for this research, showing how games are sets of complex systems that as video games are written subjectively into objective code. Investigating how video games are used in education as a tool for learning and a method for measuring learning, I argue why art education should approach video game making as art curriculum from a complexity framework. I outline the methodology and procedures I used in my study, explaining how I developed a game curriculum that included making physical, tabletop, and video games using the concepts of move, avoid, release, and contact (MARC). My purpose was to discover how game-based art pedagogy provides an opportunity to understand complexity for the students to use in playing, exploring, and making their own games. Finally, I analyzed the data within a framework of students understanding complex systems through the playing, critiquing, and making of games. To adequately answer my research questions–how do students and teachers interpret and respond to game-based art pedagogy; how do students use and understand MARC in their games; and how does making games inform an understanding of complexity–I explain how I developed a game curriculum as a form of action research. Next, I describe how I implemented and revised the different components of the curriculum in the four iterations of the course. Finally, I carefully examined the interview research data gathered from ten student and six instructor research participants to reveal the ways in which game-based art pedagogy facilitated students’ understanding of complexity.
  30. 30. 17 Chapter 2 Art Games From my early days “hacking,” to teaching in an art classroom in the South Bronx and in the museum spaces of the Smithsonian, my journey in art education has brought me to the convergence of “high art,” popular culture, and the technological tools of contemporary life. From these insights, experiences, and the theories of games as they relate to art from Caillois (1961/2001), Flanagan (2009), Huizinga (1938/1971), Salen and Zimmerman (2004), Sutton- Smith (2001), I explore in this chapter how games have been an important part of the history of art in the 20th century in the work of the Dadaists, Surrealists, Fluxus, and Situationists. The video game theories from Bogost (2006 & 2007), Galloway (2007), and Wark (2007), show how games are sets of complex systems that are written subjectively into objective code. Finally, I discuss how video games were used in education as a tool for learning and a method for measuring learning; and why art education should approach video game making from a complexity framework. This chapter informs the game-based art pedagogy I developed, implemented, and reflected on for changes to improve teaching artmaking as complexity thinking in four iterations of this action research study. Debating Games as Art Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun Times, co-host of the movie review show At the Movies, and cited by Forbes Magazine in 2008 as “the most powerful pundit in America” (Van Riper, 2007, para. 7) wrote in 2005, and repeatedly defending until 2010, that video games
  31. 31. 18 are not art, inferior to traditional art forms that have achieved cultural relevance through their ability to move people emotionally. Stating that “video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful” but the nature of the video game medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship (Ebert, 2005, para. 12). After much debate within the game community and on Roger Ebert’s blog, Ebert admitted in 2010 that he had not played any video game at any length to qualify his critical statements (Ebert, 2010, para. 4). In this section I situate a theory of video games as art within a debate on games as art. Later in 2010, G4 Media video game critic Abbie Heppe dismissed Nintendo’s efforts to flesh out Samus, the main character of the Metroid video game series, in the 2010 game Metroid: Other M. The female character Samus broke gender barriers in 1986 as a former space marine turned bounty hunter in the action-adventure game. In Heppe’s review of Metroid: Other M, she argued that the new game release makes Samus look like a weak, subservient woman, unlike her earlier portrayals as a strong solitary character over the 24 years of the game’s franchise (Heppe, 2010). Most of Heppe’s review was a critical analysis of the artistic narrative of the game rather than its technical execution. This was problematic with most readers of the website, citing Heppe’s views as being “blindly feminist” and “too critical” for the video game medium. It seems that many “gamers”7 themselves are not supportive of games being called art if it involves critical analysis of how games are constructed (Abbot, 2010). These gamers prefer to view games more as entertainment. An overview what the major game studios release annually is evidence that, like the film industry, large budget, franchise-styled video games like the Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed series prioritize generating profit through creating entertainment, not art. These two positions of games are visible in college departments that teach video game 7 According to statistics compiled by the Entertainment Software Association in 2011, 72% of Americans play computer and video games. The average “gamer” is 37 years old, and 42% of all players are women. http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2011.pdf
  32. 32. 19 development as a business or vocational program (e.g., Guild Hall at Southern Methodist University and Full Sail University), and those that teach games as a form of artistic inquiry (e.g., Savannah College of Art and Design and The University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Division).8 John Sharp (2010), game designer, educator, and art historian, argues that the participatory nature of a game, its ability to be played over and over, and the aesthetics of a game’s “fun factor,” is something that keeps games from going down the path that art has taken over the past 100 years. Sharp states that maybe the concept of art, as a unique object to be contemplated and discussed outside of its fabrication, may be outdated because games require participation in a way that is unfamiliar to most art audiences. Sharp maintains that it is unnatural for games to be viewed in the traditional gallery contexts, pointing to examples of video games in gallery and museum settings that were not touched or interacted with as intended. Mary Flanagan, explores in her book Critical Play (2009), a historical investigation of games and play in art, that most higher education game programs look at video game development from a technological or popular cultural perspective, overlooking how fine art cultures have used games (Flanagan, 2009). In this chapter, I discuss games as structured play, building my argument of games as art through 20th century radical art movements that rejected historical assumptions and practices of art. This perspective is important because these artists played within the structure of art like a game of Hot Potato, where players standing in a circle, 8 Guild Hall at Southern Methodist University is a highly rated game development program, one of the first graduate programs to teach game development in the United States. Full Sail University is a for-profit university specializing in media production, well known in the video game industry. Reading their curriculums, interviewing game development faculty inside and outside of the schools, listening to and reading testimonials from graduates, I find that Guild Hall and Full Sail’s game programs are career focused, developing students to work directly for large video game companies, rather than develop their students to receive a broader liberal arts education. Through faculty interviews, graduate testimonials, and the curriculum descriptions of the video game programs at Savannah College of Art and Design and The University of Southern California’s Interactive media division, these programs focus on developing students more broadly, not just developing their skills specifically for the video game industry.
  33. 33. 20 pass a ball around as fast as they can, trying not to drop the ball or make a bad pass. Like the ball in Hot Potato, these Dada, Surrealist, Fluxus, and Situationist artists moved the materials and definition of art around, shifting the position of art but not losing focus that there is a structure to what art is, questioning what comprises the potato in art. These shifting positions in Western art reflected how the assumed stable centers of power in modern society were also in play, beginning with power and tradition moving away from European, rural, and agricultural economies and culture, to include more global, urban, and industrial views. A Brief Art History of Games Because my action research study is contextualized within art education and the history of art, I provide in this description a brief history of games in art. Histories of play that questions the authority of artistic systems were dominant in early 20th century art movements. Subversion, artistic participation, and questions to normative behavior dominated groups like Dada, Surrealism, Fluxus, and Situationism. New media theorist Jay Bolter (2010) argues that art games appear to loosely follow two strains of the avant-garde; one strain pushed the limits of the medium (e.g., Cubism), and another strain pushed the limits of society (e.g., Dadaism). Using these two strains as descriptive guides, this section looks at artists that used games and game-like structures as a medium to explore artistic systems, experimentation, and subversion. These artists engaged in these two agendas of pushing the boundaries of the artistic medium and society. Early 20th century Western art brought child’s play and art together by focusing on the importance of imagination. Movements like Surrrealism and Dadaism approached child-like states of imagination as primitive, innocent, original, and ultimately fresh and untouched for art making (Sutton-Smith, 2001). Dada and Surrealist artists like Sophie Taeuber (1889-1943), Hugo Ball (1886-1927), Max Ernst (1891-1976), and Hans Bellmer (1902-1975) built into their art
  34. 34. 21 practice structured play activities like dolls, puppets, and masks as ironic gestures to the culture of bourgeois society. These artists sought to remove established social and historical conventions and rules of art and to reconstruct them with role-playing and sandbox-style game approaches, shocking audiences with questions of socially accepted and normative behavior (Flanagan, 2009). After the death and destruction of World War I, many Dadaists used irony to show the collapse of the rational. Dada artists like Hannah Höch (1889-1978), Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), Francis Picabia (1879-1953), and Raoul Hausmann (1886-1971) engaged in wordplay, techniques of ironic juxtaposition, fragmentation, chance, and audience interaction as explorations of authorship and authority in their art. For example, Höch and Hausmann worked together to develop the photo collage technique. Playing with photographs of people, machines, and advertising by cutting up and combining these images to create new representations of the body, these artists questioned ideas of originality, the mechanization and industrialization of society, and the authority of the artist as parody (Flanagan, 2009). The most recognized artist from the Dadaists and Surrealists movements directly involved with games is Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968). Quoted as saying, “art is a game between all people of all periods,”9 Duchamp shifted his focus from painting to “non retinal art,” notoriously leaving his artistic practice to pursue his interests in chess, even co-authoring a book on the game (Duchamp & Halberstadt, 1932). Known as being ironic and playful, Duchamp believed that a work of art is completed only when the viewer is involved (Duchamp, 1957/1975). Several art scholars have investigated Duchamp’s relationship to art and chess (Damisch & Krauss, 1979; Humble, 1998; LaFarge, 2000; & Randall, 2007). These scholars focus on Duchamp as an artist who shows interest in chess, rather than appropriating art as a type of chess game. With many of Duchamp’s readymade works–Bicycle Wheel (1913), Fountain (1917), Hat 9 Cited in Bourriaud (1998), Relational Aesthetics, p. 7
  35. 35. 22 Rack (1917/1964), Anémic Cinéma, (1926), and Sixteen Miles of String (1942), as a few examples–the works were fabricated and positioned within an art context, pushing viewers to consider their position on art and its meaning. Trébuchet (1917), named after a chess move, is comprised of a coat rack that Duchamp nailed to the floor, which creates a chess-like scenario for the viewer to interact with the piece. Like Duchamp’s more famous work Fountain, the viewer is asked to respond to the placement of the art object in relationship to the art space, playing with the traditional purpose of the material, its status as an art object, and the role of the artist. Duchamp’s work raises questions about the conventional understanding of the utility of a urinal and coat rack and our conventional understanding of art objects. The active efforts of Duchamp and the Dadaists to redefine culture through participatory play, interactivity, and games as research practices put questions of social norms in flux and “at play” (Flanagan, 2009, p. 139). Building on Dada ideas of chance and randomness, Surrealists used “automatic” drawing and writing to circumvent conventional logic in creating visual and verbal concepts related to contemporary culture. Influenced by new psychoanalytic theories of the time, the Surrealist use of “automaticism” (Breton, 1992/1924), was a stream of consciousness form of image making, used to break away from rationalism and promote new states of awareness. This form of art making gained popularity over the Dadaists’ more nihilistic use of chance. As a group, the Surrealists explicitly talked about games with their art. Most famously, the game the Exquisite Corpse (1925), appropriated from the parlor game Consequences, was used as a collaborative method of creating compositions blindly. The Exquisite Corpse is played by drawing part of a figure on one folded part of a paper and handing it over to another artist to continue the drawing on another folded section. Without seeing the other drawings on the folded paper, this method of working disrupts conventions of how one makes a drawing (Brotchie & Gooding, 1995). The Surrealists’ application of games challenged the conscious limits of artistic
  36. 36. 23 practice with the use of chance and to draw out the subconscious, while the Dadaists used the freedom of play to question social structures and normative behavior. Cut from the same anti-art and anti-commercialism cloth as the Dada movement, Fluxus artists used everyday objects and a variety of art media such as performance art, video, and music, to develop their ideas. Both Fluxus and Dada artists used play and chance to show the randomness of nature. However, Dadaism’s use of chance and play arose from the destructive, bleak experiences of World War I, while Fluxus artists, working primarily between 1962-1978, in Japan, Europe, and the United States, used play for positive social and communal ambitions. Influential to the Fluxus movement, avant-garde composer John Cage explored chance and the unknown in his experimental music. Works like 4’33” explored the sounds of the surrounding environment as Cage’s score influenced many Fluxus artists to experiment similarly with sound improvisation and audience participation in their work. Another influential artist on Fluxus members was Allan Kaprow. Kaprow, known as the creator of Happenings, a form of performance art, is quoted as calling happenings as: “a game, an adventure, a number of activities engaged in by participants for the sake of playing” (Kaprow, 1957/2008, p. 1). Like a game, the overall structure of Cage’s 4’33” and Kaprow’s happenings were planned, the spontaneous and random activity during the pieces were part of the work. In doing so, these works broke the traditional boundary between the artwork and the viewer, allowing the audience to be part of the art rather than being “outside” of the piece. As discussed later in this chapter, the “magic circle” of a piece of art often frames the audience as outside observer/participants, but works like 4’33” and happenings open up the “magic circle” to actively include the audience in the art/game space. The organizer of Fluxus, George Maciunas, made many games and toys, creating work that emphasized how the meaning and nature of everyday objects can be put into states of continuous change or flux. Maciunas’s games like Flux Ping Pong (1966) are played with the formal aspects of the game of ping-pong, hitting a ball back and forth between players. However,
  37. 37. 24 artificial obstacles were created like modifying the ping-pong paddles and table, making the game difficult to play, changing the competitive landscape. Maciunas’s ideas were reintroduced 30 years later with Gabriel Orozco’s interest in logic, systems, and physics revealed in his series of games Ping Pong Table (1998), Oval Billiard Table (1996) and Horses Running Endlessly (1995). Several Fluxus artists worked in reference to Duchamp with the game of chess, using its cultural position as a readymade intellectual game. Fluxus artists manipulated chess sets to examine ways of knowing, bringing the conflict of the game to the forefront of their work. Fluxus artist Takako Saito created several readymade chess sets, turning found objects into chess pieces. Saito’s chess sets positioned players to use their senses other than sight, raising questions about aesthetics and the predominance of the visual in artworks, commenting on the male authority in the art world. In Saito’s Spice Chess Set (1965) and Liquor Chess Set (1975), the game pieces must be smelled or tasted as part of the gameplay in order to figure out which chess piece it is and what move corresponds with it. Yoko Ono’s White Chess Set (1966) and Play It by Trust (1991) are completely white chess sets offering a cooperative form of play in the work’s anti-war message of no visible opposition. Similar to Duchamp’s position on games and art, Ono is quoted as saying “I see life as the playground of our minds” (Piasecki, 2008, para. 8), using the medium of art as a form of structured play. Works like Ono’s Instruction Paintings (1962) asks viewers to interact with the object or with other viewers. These pieces are extensions of Marcel Duchamp's belief that the work of art is only partly created by the artist and is completed by the spectator. Linked to Dada and Surrealism through the French avant-garde movement Lettrism, an international Marxist avant-garde organization, the Situationists suggested alternative life experiences that united play, freedom, and critical thinking through art (Knabb, 2006). The Situationists developed revolutionary approaches to architecture and urban planning called unitary urbanism, uniting experiments in behavior with the environment, using the concept of
  38. 38. 25 psychogeography as a starting point for their ideas (Chtcheglov, 1953/2006). A playful exploration of the city, psychogeography blurred the lines of where function and play within a space begins and ends (Debord, 1955/2006a). Serving as an instruction manual to the play described in psychogeography, was the theory of the dérive (Debord, 1958/2006b). The dérive acts as a playful exploration of the environment, without preconceived rules of how to navigate the space. For example, Vito Acconci’s Following Piece (1969) was structured as a dérive-like performance around Acconci randomly following people until they went into a doorway. Acconci stood waiting in the doorway until the next person walked out and followed them. Acconci let those he followed navigate his way around the city, letting chance be his guide. The Situationist concept of the dérive evolved to the more structured practice of détournement, sampling from the past and other sources to playfully create new works that subverted the original work’s intent. The Situationist theories and practices were viewed as influential to the May 1968 social protests in France,10 a reaction to what was viewed as the complicit behavior of Western society to advanced capitalism and mass media. While writer/filmmaker, Guy Debord, is considered the primary intellectual leader of the Situationists, most of the discourse and publications about him does not reference his work in game development. Debord designed Game of War (1965) two years prior to the publication of his seminal theoretical work The Society of the Spectacle (1967), cited as a catalyst of the French protests of 1968 (Andreotti, 1996). Game of War is a tabletop game with the strategic elements of chess and the combative characteristics of poker (Wark, 2008). In Game of War players must manage fighting units, supplies, and communication lines simultaneously. If the lines of fighting units are broken, supplies cannot be communicated back and forth between units. Debord 10 The 1968 French protests were significant because it included the first unauthorized union strike, becoming the largest strike in history. The 1968 protests also started a long series of student strikes and activism, viewed as being a milestone in the shift of French moral values.
  39. 39. 26 designed Game of War to connect his theoretical interests of how society’s understanding of space and time is determined by those in power. The disruption of communication by a powerful force is the key game element to Game of War. This game metaphor aligns with the argument that Debord made in The Society of the Spectacle (1967). Arguing that if the hegemonic cultural narrative of consumption were revealed as a spectacle of capitalist society, its power would be broken, freeing the proletariat. For Debord, “the spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images” (para. 4). From their theories, ideas, and games, the Situationists’ ultimate goal was to construct situations; problematic and rarified ways of working that broke or disrupted the passivity of everyday life and create societal change. The games and use of play from the Dada, Surrealist, Fluxus, and Situationist art movements show methods of resistance to the conventions of art and society. Earlier, I used the metaphor of the game Hot Potato to describe how 20th century artists played with the meaning and definitions of art. This example is important because the game of Hot Potato is like a readymade vessel, easy to comprehend, and quickly understood by students of all ages for the structure the game takes. Abstract concepts like the meaning of art can be understood with this game analogy as a conceptual framework, using the game form to explore these questions, showing how artists negotiate, interpret, and define their views of art through the physically fluid and ever changing movements. Games used metaphorically to frame serious, complex systems and problems in art create an intellectual space where difficult topics can be introduced playfully to students. In the next section, I explore the use of games in education, discussing historical approaches to game-based pedagogy.
  40. 40. 27 Game-based Pedagogy Game developers pride themselves as being in a cross-disciplinary field, yet the methods used by the 20th century artists described above in contemporary game development circles are viewed as outside the norm (Costikyan, 2010). The purpose of this section is to identify and recognize how games became an area of study and how the technological rise of video games has led to the educational use of games in the K-12 classroom. By focusing on the methods of these prior studies, a distinction can be made to how my study supports methods of artistic expression and imagination not explicitly developed in prior scholarship. Game Studies: A History Although games and play have been around for centuries, game studies began in the 20th century. Johan Huizinga penned Homo Ludens (1938/1971) the earliest known academic work on games, citing how play and games are a part of culture, valued as other spaces with limited access, special designations, and ceremonial rites like churches, courtrooms, and battlefields. These spaces, only used for specific purposes are defined by Huizinga as part of the “magic circle,” outside of the reality of everyday life. While the magic circle can include risk, even be deadly, it supports known parameters that encourage players to explore and create meaning within the defined space. By claiming cultural and critical value to play and games gives a lasting legacy to Huizinga’s work. However, Huizinga’s theories are dated by his rigid classifications of games, play, and cultures. Roger Caillois (1961/2001) critiques and expands Huizinga’s play and games classifications to a spectral theory in his book Man, Play, Games. Caillois’s typology of play conceives structured and rule-based games at one end, and free form and spontaneous play at the other. Part of Caillois theory breaks down when considering that even in defining free form
  41. 41. 28 play, a metastructure is created. Caillois sees structures of society as games and human behaviors as forms of play, yet he only briefly discusses how the arts fit into his typology as a form of mimicry. More concerned with how art fits into his structure, Caillois does not see the arts as opening up spaces to question behaviors and structures in society. These two early theorists established a language for discussing play and games, however Huizinga’s and Caillois’s attempts to make their theories comprehensive exposes the limits of their experience with the arts and the complexities of the human condition. Unlike Huizinga and Caillois, Brian Sutton-Smith is less resolved to defining games and play in his research. In his book The Ambiguity of Play (2001), Sutton-Smith states that the definitions and understanding of play are integral to understanding games, while recognizing that he is unable to capture the full scope and meaning of play. Instead, Sutton-Smith proposes seven rhetorics of play that emerged through cultural shifts in time: progress, fate, power, identity, self, imaginary, and frivolous. Drawing from theorists like Bakhtin and Derrida, Sutton-Smith describes how the arts and everyday life are game-like; where society and culture are undetermined and open to interpretation. It is in the framing and navigation of society, that spaces for play and games are created. Later in the chapter, I explain how the French theorist Michel de Certeau similarly proposes how games appear in the everyday life in his theory of strategies and tactics. While Sutton-Smith casts a wide net on the forms play and games have taken, early video games focused on competitive games and games of war. In the history of video games, the first video games like Tennis for Two and Spacewar! were designed by male military engineers as outlets for their work developing Cold War technologies. Possibly because these games were designed as diversions in environments devoted to weapons of mass destruction, creating games of war that used zero-sum outcomes may have been obvious choices for these military engineers. As video games entered the mainstream and the consoles of Atari, Nintendo, Sega, and Sony moved into the home, the kinds of video games
  42. 42. 29 children played and the ideologies reinforced in the games’ virtual environments took a greater public interest (Gonzalez, 2005). As the public’s cultural awareness for video games grew in the 1980s, so did academic interest. The field of game studies is viewed as broadly having three areas of focus: the effects of games on people, games and how they are played as cultural artifacts, and the design and development of games (Konzack, 2007). The next section will look at how research into game- based pedagogy used these three areas of focus. Game-based Pedagogy: Historical Examples Much of game-based pedagogy centered on students learning by playing video games (Barab, et al., 2005; Paul & Hansen, 2006; Sorensen & Meyer, 2007; Squire, 2004). In this form of game-based pedagogy, students learned specific academic standards by interacting within the prescribed video game space. Even though these studies were designed from the premise that students have fun playing games, most popular video games do not include developmental assessment or pedagogical principles in their design (Fortugno & Zimmerman, 2005). Students made video games in a variety of classroom environments over the last fifteen years of game research. Typically, students learned subjects like math or language while making games (Habgood, Ainsworth, & Benford, 2005; Kafai, 1995; Robertson & Good, 2005). Prior quantitative research on student-created games measured their language building skills (Pericles, 2007), and how gender, race, and ethnic identities are represented, absent, and/or stereotyped in video game creation (Denner & Campe, 2008; Kafai, 1996; Kelleher, Kiesler, & Pausch, 2007). These studies, where students made games as a motivation tool for math or language courses identified mixed results of improvement. However, studies looking at how students responded to making games as a form of self-expression, time on task, or taking interest in school found more
  43. 43. 30 positive outcomes (Centre for Learning Innovation, 2009; Denner & Campe, 2008; Kafai, 1995; Seif El Nasr & Smith, 2006). A 2009 study by researchers at Oklahoma State University recommended a teaching model using “rapid video game creation tools”, like game engines as a project-based curriculum to boost attitudes about computers, as well as critical and creative thinking skills (Dalal, Dalal, Kak, Antonenko, & Stansberry, 2009). The researchers proposed that “rapid game development tools” don’t require students to have prior knowledge of computer programming yet involve art, music, and storytelling as part of the game making process. Rather than separating out the arts as a distinct part of the game making process, in my action research study, based on my previous teaching experience, I began with the premise that video game creation is an attainable project for the art classroom. Studies of video games made in school art classroom have not been conducted, although researchers suggest that students should make digital media like video games outside of the environment of high-stakes testing such as in art classrooms and afterschool programs (Gee & Hayes, 2009; Gill, 2009; Jenkins, 2006b; Keifer- Boyd, 2005). In recent years, advocacy for students to develop digital literacy skills (Jenkins, 2006b), using video games as a vehicle for learning (Gee, 2005), caught the academic and general public’s attention. Part of the enthusiasm for digital literacy is to use games to teach academic content. This advocacy primarily concerned itself with ways that students can consume and use digital media like video games for learning rather than produce games as learning. As previously stated, the use of commercially made or educational video games has different purposes than making video games, comparable to looking at paintings in contrast with making paintings, or reading stories as opposed to writing stories. Teaching students to use and consume different forms of digital media and skills without developing a critical awareness of how it is produced, places students at a disadvantage in understanding the full capacities of digital media. For example, learning how data access, computer code, hardware, and sensors controls, limits, or
  44. 44. 31 allows consumers to be informed how the digital devices of their daily lives work (Darts, 2004; Rushkoff, 2010). A limited advocacy for digital literacy to consume what is popular rather than produce critical work, perpetuates the view of schools as places for training entry-level workers for the 21st century. Some digital literacy advocates shifted their views to include support for the production of digital media, yet show minimal support for models in school-based instruction (Gee & Levine, 2008). However, teaching digital literacies through games in schools still moves forward with support (Pinkard, 2008). From these studies of game-based pedagogy and game production as a form of critical digital literacy, we can surmise that the art classroom is a viable space for teaching video games. From my perspective, the art classroom is a space where digital literacies and criticality should be valued as part of a rigorous art practice. Quest to Learn: Game-based Pedagogy at Work In the fall of 2009, Quest to Learn opened, a new school in the New York City public school system experimenting with digital media at the center of their curriculum. Starting the school with a 6th grade class, the curriculum uses game-based pedagogy, based on the educational philosophy that games require immersive, active participation, problem solving, and learning through rules-based systems (Quest to Learn, 2009a). The school’s executive director of design, Katie Salen, also Professor of Media Design at Parsons the New School for Design, is characterized as developing the school’s game-based curriculum in a way that connects more to children’s everyday lives and world beyond school. Salen argues that to reflect the needs of a networked 21st century society, Quest to Learn reworks the traditional academic disciplines to make a more participatory, immersive, and engaging learning environment than traditional subject-based schooling (Corbett, 2010). Investigating systems through themes like “being, place, and space,” students at Quest to Learn explore the structures of geographic space, modes of
  45. 45. 32 transportation, weather, cartography, biomes, and maps, to show how these systems are dynamic, having common and unique features, discovering the systems’ optimal levels, hidden dimensions, and homological understanding (Quest to Learn: Our Learning Model, 2009b). Quest to Learn founders Salen and Robert Torres developed the school structure using gamelike language such as achievement levels of expertise rather than grades, and developed problem-based curricular units as missions; assignments as quests. In addition to learning how to make games, students learn their math, language, science, and social studies lessons using game- like scenarios. Salen believes that building a game teaches children about a dynamic system with sets of rules, challenges, obstacles and goals; and that students will be able to understand and design systems that work and have later application outside of school (Salen, 2007). This description of how building games can teach an understanding of systems and respond within a particular context is characteristic of art educator, David Darts’s (2004) “advocation of cultural production as a pedagogical strategy to generate and facilitate student awareness, understanding, and active participation in the sociocultural realm” (p. 313). Darts’s statement shows that art educators should embrace contemporary forms of cultural production like games so students can critically engage in the world around them. Similar to school, games are designed experiences in which participants are expected to be motivated to achieve the game goals while operating inside the systems of boundaries and rules of the game. Certain qualities are part of game-based learning: understanding a given environment; teaching skills and knowledge that are applicable to the environment; testing those skills; completing tasks; rewarding the players; and progressing to the next stage. These traits also align with successful teaching for impactful learning (Gee, 2004). The learning at Quest to Learn has not translated into high scores on standardized tests. The first class of Quest to Learn students scored similarly to other sixth graders in the New York City district. One of Quest to Learn’s funders, the MacArthur Foundation, is developing
  46. 46. 33 alternative assessment measures that look at systems thinking, teamwork, and time management to show the value of the school’s curriculum and philosophy (Shute & Torres, in press). The MacArthur Foundation’s commitment to this game-based model is evident in their investment to start a second school in Chicago for the fall of 2011 (Hood, 2011). Video games are one part of the digital curriculum at Quest to Learn. Al Doyle, one of the teachers at Quest to Learn, is quoted as saying that the students’ abilities with the computer have changed dramatically in the last ten years. A decade ago Doyle taught students how to “Save As” on a computer. Now students make videos, blogs, podcasts, and use social networks. He argues that memorization, spelling, and handwriting has little place in 21st century education, removing many of the pedagogical practices of traditional elementary school (Corbett, 2010). Quest to Learn’s administrators argue that since children use these forms of media in their lives outside of school daily, then digital media should be harnessed for academic purposes as well, erasing the boundaries of school and life as much as possible. Gaining support for radical change is harder than incremental shifts, particularly in education. Quest to Learn’s game-based pedagogy for the entire school curriculum redefines educational standards as evident in the school’s mediocre state test scores and development of new forms of assessment. Additionally, students at Quest to Learn make and play games primarily to support learning in other assignments rather than as a medium for self-expression. Advocates to include games development as part of the art education curriculum received a boost of support when the video game category was added to the Scholastic Art awards (Scholastic, 2010). Whether games are used in education boldly as Quest to Learn’s immersive program, or Scholastic Arts incremental inclusion, I argue why making games should be understood as part of the future of art education in the next section.
  47. 47. 34 Preparation for Future Learning (PFL) Underlying much of my high school teaching was the desire for students to think transdisciplinary, i.e., to see that ways of doing and thinking in the art class as being applicable to other courses and beyond the school building. Until recently, applying learning outside of a field or discipline to another context was understood as “transfer” (Green, 2010). Preparation for Future Learning (PFL) is a reconceptualization of transfer, designed to capture the distinctions of knowledge as transfer in and transfer out (Reese, 2007). PFL supports dynamic assessment, measuring what students learn given additional resources. Specifically, PFL framework is designed to test whether certain types of initial activities allow better preparation for transfer by creating knowledge that is more suitable to be “transferred in” to a subsequent learning experience (Schwartz & Martin, 2004). Proponents of game-based pedagogy like James Gee have gravitated towards PFL research to support their arguments that students are motivated to play video games and predisposed to learning through the medium (Gee, 2006). They argue that the guided experience of games, using models with well-designed problems, and cycles of expertise for players, promotes the best in learning by allowing for multiple and abstract experiences (Gee, 2006; Squire, 2008). However, citing that today’s youth need to understand complex technical languages and skills that can be found in playing video games and modifying them, Gee does not support making games for learning as much as the playing of games. This study structures the understanding of dynamic systems and complexity through the playing and making of physical and board games, prior to students developing their own, more technically challenging, video games. By contextualizing game making activities within an art environment, students utilized outside resources and research as a way to encourage their own individual voice in artistic practice. Earlier art education studies spotlighted how personal interests motivated and informed students in their artistic development. J. C. Holtz was inspired
  48. 48. 35 to draw from his personal interest in comic books (Wilson, 1974), and Judy Chicago encouraged students to research from lived experiences to inform their artwork (Keifer-Boyd, 2007). Grounded in this research that used art created from the personal lives of students within social, political, and environmental systems and contexts, students in this study navigated how their game narratives and choices in the level design, characters, sound, game difficulty, and methods of play, reflected these personal interests. Although some post-secondary art education and studio programs prepare students to create art with digital media (Gill, 2009), or are inspired by these pre-digital game-like artworks created by Dadaists, Surrealists, Situationists, and Fluxus artists (Gude, 2007), no examples exist in the art education literature of studies concerning video game making as studio art curricula in primary and secondary schools. Art educator Kim Sheridan (2009) links making video games with her research in scientific inquiry, and Kylie Peppler (Peppler & Kafai, 2006; Peppler & Davis, 2010) invites the learning sciences field to collaborate and engage the art education field to use programming environments as a creative form, but neither scholar goes as far as promoting teaching video games production in the art classroom. A few art education studies discussed the use of commercially made games such as State of Emergency (Bolin & Blandy, 2003) Darfur is Dying (Parks, 2008) and art games like Everything I Do is Art, But Nothing I Do Makes a Difference (Sweeny, 2010) as focal points for video games to be included in art education. However, the games are analyzed for the content provided rather than as opportunities for content creation. In her dissertation, Hui-Chun Hsiao (2007) explored how users of The Sims created their own stories using the in-game content of The Sims. Nevertheless, digital multimedia story creation differs in learning outcomes than creating games, just as the use of commercially made and educational video games has different teaching and learning purposes than making video games. On the popular social network site for art teachers interested in technology integrated in their art classes, arted20.ning.com, of the over 5,000 members, only two high school art teachers posted they make games with their students, using the
  49. 49. 36 program Adobe Flash, a popular piece of software for animation, and used to make games for advanced high school students, not elementary or middle school students (Roland, 2010). What I advocate in my study is the making of physical, board, and video games as art practice for students as young as 8 years old. In the remainder of this chapter, I discuss how this study contributes to an emerging discussion in the field of art education about the educational value of making games as art within the context of digital media (Bolin & Blandy, 2003; Freedman, 1991; Gill, 2009; Keifer-Boyd, 2005) and game-based art pedagogy. Creating games as interfaces allows for playful experiences determined by game makers’ imagining and playing with structures of all kinds, such as objects, physics, lighting, sound, physical responses, and other time-based structures that enable the possibility of experimenting and exploring with contemporary culture and life. When artistic practice combines any and all relevant domains of inquiry, using exploratory methods that are dynamic to situations or needs, its process takes a complexity-thinking framework. Games as Interfaces In 2009 Eric Zimmerman, game designer, theorist, teacher, and artist was interviewed about when he began designing games on the podcast Another Castle (Pratt, 2009): There are lots of ways of thinking about play. One way is that, you know you buy a set of rules and you sit down and play the game and follow the rules. Another idea of play is like you have a skateboard and you are carrying it with you, and it changes the way you relate to your environment. Well you know, I could walk along side this rail but if I had a skateboard I could like, try and grind it. Suddenly my whole environment is transformed because I have this way of interfacing with it. In this brief description, Zimmerman illustrates how children commonly invent games as a way to interface with their environment. The interface is determined by the present, using the personal material of the skateboard and skills of the child with the situational encounter of the

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