Dissertation ideas and some (gasp) feedback on my exams!

So, Phil Bell, my new adviser, has weekly meetings with all his students. Wow.

Anyway, he gave me some feedback on my answer to exam question 2 (the lit review one) and suggested I read some more stuff and edit the essay a bit to reflect a more focused application of the theories I named as applied to games. I could look at this in two ways… oh damn, I have to revise or yay, someone gave me feedback and I can learn from it. 🙂 I’ll go with the latter, but can’t help but think that I wouldn’t be in this sort of position if I had access to a group project outside of classes from the get-go as it seems pretty clear that students in collaborative projects have the support needed to deepen their understanding of stuff. Or am I wrong?

I think I might have to send an email out to the Madison-MIT crazy ass network to ask if anyone wants to form a virtual reading group with me as it is pretty clear to me that I am playing (and failing) at a catch up game with people who can just talk to someone else doing games research in everyday contexts.

Anyway, also in the meeting with Phil this week, we discussed possible dissertation topics. One that I might’ve mentioned before is to look at a group of players across off-screen and on-screen contexts to see if their teamwork and general interactions and relationships are similar/different. The easier route to take, however, might be to analyze the mountain of data I collected for my WoW paper with different theoretical lenses, paying particular attention, for example, to the social dynamics and power relations at play. I could even attempt to quantify and measure certain things like level of communication events or types of utterances on different nights. Stuff to think about. Which would help the games research community more?

Games Learning Society wrapping thoughts

One thing I noticed while at GLS was that a lot of folk seemed to be talking about similar things from different angles. Here’s a list:

  1. participatory culture and new media literacy (Henry Jenkins and Alice Robison)
  2. ludic bureaucracy (Thomas Malaby)
  3. gamer mindset (Jim Gee)

The common theme in all of these topics is that gamers and people in general are in a new age where the traditional ways of structuring and organizing things no longer applies. The gamer mindset focuses on exploration, transgression, pushing the system, trial and error, emergent phenomenon, etc. all of which is essentially a subset (I think) of living in a participatory culture. It’s not really a knowledge economy, but more of a social economy. Your positionality and network and the skill you have in plying that network will get you far in life. The old bureaucracy is being replaced by one that doesn’t attempt to control and order everything; instead it supports emergent actions and movements.

This of course has huge implications for how I teach the technology class to future teachers that Yen-Ling and I run… How do we prepare teachers so that they can prepare their students? It’s hard enough just trying to expose new teachers to the gamer mindset, Web 2.0, etc. How do we help them develop the skills necessary to help kids develop a critical view of the world they live and participate in?  In other words, I think our teacher ed program is working under the old model too much.  Kids and adults will need, if not already need, equitable access and sponsorship to new technologies.  Participation now depends more than ever on social skills and cultural capital and the skills involved with content creation and mediation.  Yet our schools and teachers are still emphasizing knowledge and facts rather than processes and usage of knowledge.

All the people I met at GLS

I met a ton of people for the first time at Games Learning Society. Here’s a brain dump of who I can remember (I’ll link to each of them soon… running out of steam right now… 😦 ):

  • Rebecca Black
  • Samantha Blackmon
  • Ian Bogost
  • Ted Castranova (well, technically, we didn’t meet, but I saw him…)
  • Mia Consalvo
  • Ben DeVane (and wife Amanda)
  • Josh Diaz
  • Julian Dibbell
  • Elonka Dunin
  • Shree Durga
  • Debbie Fields
  • Justin Hall
  • Erica Halverson
  • Chris Holden (and wife Sarah)
  • Tori Horton
  • Aaron Hung
  • Dan Hunter
  • Shawna Kelly
  • Lane Lawley
  • Thomas Malaby
  • Dan Norton
  • Nathaniel Pope
  • Alice Robison
  • Lauren Silberman
  • Dave Simkins
  • Bert Snow
  • Doug Thomas
  • Bill Tomlinson
  • Mark Wagler
  • Dave White
  • Lee Wilson
  • Moses Wolfenstein
  • Suze Woolf
  • Eric Zimmerman
  • Renata
  • Matt
  • Dana and I think her boyfriend from Florida
  • Carole?
  • Tim?
  • a bunch of people at the LAN party whose names I’ve forgotten

And people I’ve previously met:

  • Lisa Galarneau
  • Jim Gee
  • Betty Hayes
  • Henry Jenkins
  • Liz Lawley
  • Brett Shelton
  • Kurt Squire
  • Constance Steinkuehler (big wit baby!)

And, of course, people I go to or went to school with:

  • Laurie McCarthy
  • Tom Satwitcz (now at U of Georgia)
  • Jen Stone (former adviser, now at U of Alaska Anchorage)

Mark in action

Games Learning Society 3.0 round-up

Richard Carey wrote a blog post about GLS and included links to other people blogging.

Here’s a summary of all the ones I could find off his list:

Also, check these out:

mark chen

GLS day 2, evening

After the conference was over, I met up with Moses to drop my stuff off at his place since he kindly offered an air mattress for me to crash on for the night.  BTW, ladies, Moses is the man.  Guys, you too should know; Moses is like the coolest man in the world.

Anyway, a bunch of folks went off to some party but Moses and I happened to meet up with a guy named Josh Diaz before Moses had to take off for said party.  So, I ended up hanging out with Josh, walking around the capitol talking, and having dinner with him at The Old Fashioned.

Old Fashioned house burger

I forgot to take a photo of dinner, but here’s an image someone else took of the same menu item, The Old Fashioned House Burger. It was amazing. Perfectly cooked medium, with two thick crispy strips of bacon, smoked cheddar (good cheddar–but I’m a cheeseburger snob), and a medium cooked egg–not too runny, not too dry. The egg added a surprising complexity and binding flavor to the whole affair, making for possibly the best burger I’ve ever had. I’ve had egg on burger before, but previously it was greasy as all hell. This time it was fantastic.

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GLS day 2, late afternoon

Gaming Literacy

Ah crap.. my laptop is almost out of juice. I might have to go offline for a bit and transcribe hand-written notes… gasp.

[Edit:] Ok, I did indeed have to write stuff down by hand. What follows is my attempt at a transcription; sorry for the delay.

michael wagner

Immersion vs. Learning – Michael Wagner

Michael is from the dept. for interactive media and ed tech at the Donau-Universität Krems from overseas! 🙂 Awesome seeing someone from outside the U.S. involved in the dialog about literacy and games. Michael introduced the Game Based Learning Paradox: games are great for learning but that also means violence and aggression might be being learned, too. This is what I had to grapple with in my general exams, too.

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