Author Archives: ludicdeveloper

Theory: Critical Game Design & Critical Play

Readings by Critical Game Design by Mary Flanagan & Lindsay Grace

Learning through Game Design

Anxiety, Openness & Activist Games: A Case Study for Critical Play

Mary Flanagan

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the boundaries of social issues or ‘activist’ games with a case study on a popular game released in 2009 which fosters a critical type of play among the audience. We assess the game’s public reception to better understand how contradictory play elements led to an anxiety of ambiguity during open play. Borrowing from the “poetics of open work,” we will demonstrate how the most powerful play experience in activist games result from a new relationship formed between the audience and the player through mechanics, subject position, representation, and content.

Critical Games: Critical Design in Independent Games

Lindsay Grace

ABSTRACT: As a sign of the maturing game medium, critical games have grown to provide meaningful critique. Where once a critic might write an article, some have taken to making critical games. These games critique the conventions of digital experience to provide social commentary, examination of gameplay assumptions or simply create playful design. This paper provides a simple topographical view of critical games, proposing formal attributes for analyzing games made through critical design practices. The result is a formal two axes description. The first spectrum is the dichotomy between social critique and game mechanics critique, described as reflective and recursive respectively. The mechanics of these play experiences are further explained as either continuous or discontinuous, as executed through the rhythmic structure of the game. From this perspective, any critical game can be described by the apex between mechanic and social critique, continuous and discontinuous delivery. The result is a useful framing for game designers and game researchers.

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Learning With Games: Critical Play & Game Design

Emily Flynn-Jones, PhD, York University

Learning through Game Design

Critical Play with Dr. Emily Flynn-Jones

In this video, games researcher and media artist, Emily Flynn Jones, introduces us to the art of critical game design. In this video, we look at critical game design & the concept of ‘critical play’, explore the value of critical play in educational contexts, and demonstrate and participate in a critical game design exercise. Building upon the work of Mary Flanagan (Values at Play Model), Dr. Flynn-Jones articulates ‘critical Play’ in relation to game making forms which consciously create ‘played experiences’ that may instantiate social values or ethical positions, or interrogate ideological systems. Games created for critical play can provide safe spaces for exploring issues, connecting artistic self-expression with critical-aesthetic interventions.

Emily Flynn-Jones has a PhD in game studies. Her critical work has a feminist bent, and is concerned with gender-based equity of access to games and game making, as well as the discourses surrounding gender in gaming. She also makes ‘strange little games’ which relate to her research.

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Exploring Media Literacy & Computational Thinking

A Game Maker Curriculum Study

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Learning through Game Design

AUTHORS

Jennifer Jenson York University
Milena Droumeva, Simon Fraser University

ABSTRACT
While advances in game-based learning are already transforming educative practices globally, with tech giants like Microsoft, Apple and Google taking notice and investing in educational game initiatives, there is a concurrent and critically important development that focuses on ‘game construction’ pedagogy as a vehicle for enhancing computational literacy in middle and high school students. Essentially, game construction-based curriculum takes the central question ‘do children learn from playing games’ to the next stage by asking ‘(what) can children learn from constructing games?’

Founded on Seymour Papert’s constructionist learning model, and developed over nearly two decades, there is compelling evidence that game construction can increase student confidence and build their capacity towards ongoing computing science involvement and other STEM subjects. Our study adds to the growing body of literature on school-based game construction through comprehensive empirical methodology and evidence-based guidelines for curriculum design. There is still debate as to the utility of different software tools for game construction, models of scaffolding knowledge, and evaluation of learning outcomes and knowledge transfer.

In this paper, we present a study we conducted in a classroom environment with three groups of grade 6 students (60+ students) using Game Maker to construct their own games. Based on a quantitative analysis and a qualitative discussion we organize results around several core themes that speak to the field of inquiry: levels of computational literacy based on pre-and post-tests; gender-based attitudes to computing science and programming based on a pre- and post-survey; and the relationship between existing media literacy and performance in programming as part of the game construction curriculum. Significant results include some gender differences in attitudes towards computers and programming with boys demonstrating slightly higher confidence and performance. We discuss the complex reasons potentially contributing to that, particularly against a diverse ecology of overall media use, gameplay experience and access to technology at home. Finally, we theorize game construction as an educational tool that directly engages foundational literacy and numeracy, and connects to wider STEM-oriented learning objectives in ways that can benefit both boys and girls in the classroom.

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Designing Games & Creative Coding

Jennifer Jenson, York University

Learning through Game Design

While much educational research often focuses on what people learn through playing digital games, in this video Professor Jennifer Jenson explores what and how people learn through making games.

Here, the art and practice of game design is presented as something that anyone – at any age – can engage, opening up learning vistas that integrate creative and critical processes, as well as coding literacies and computational thinking.

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Learning Through Making Games

Jennifer Jenson, York University

Learning Through Game Design

In this introduction to the module, Jennifer Jenson connects the art of game design to learning, computational thinking, and critical design and coding literacies. In social and cultural worlds increasingly shaped by digital code, learning through game unites play, pleasure and self-directed learning with coding and computational literacies. And at the day, learners have an digital game – of their own design –  to show for it.

Jennifer Jenson, York University, Faculty of Education

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Applications

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Social Action: What Critical Making Looks Like

Lindy Wilkins

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Read/Write Culture & Wikijamming

New Media Literacies

Learning through Critical Making

In this video, we explore new learning ecologies using the lens of ‘read/write’ culture, or ‘remix’ culture, tracing these terms of engagement back to Ted Nelson and Tim Berners Lee and the politics of ‘Web 2.0’ . This video looks at how dramatically-transformed technological, social, and cultural landscapes provide opportunities for networked and collaborative forms of ‘situated learning’ today, where learner agency and use-value are central to deep learning and cultural participation. Here, technocratic curricular forms from the era of broadcast media, which still largely dominate teaching and assessment practices today, are being challenged by new modes of engagement, new actor roles and orientations to dynamic media tools, and new forms of authentic, digitally-mediated production and sharing.

Part 2 of this video is on the New Media Modules Wikimedia.

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by | July 19, 2016 · 12:55 am

Rethinking Modes, Making, and Composition

James Cicatko, Visual & Sound Artist

Learning through Critical Making

In this artist case study, James Cicatko explores practices of extended techniques: adapting tools, accepted methods, and traditional ‘modes’ and bending them to aesthetic purposes other than their established design/purpose or conventional function.

The author also explores how anyone can create and learn music through critical making and DIY compositional practices.

James Cicatko is a visual and soundwork artist located on the West Coast.

keywords
LEARNING THROUGH COMPOSITION
EXTENDED TECHNIQUES
MODDING TECHNOLOGY /MODDING MODES
REPURPOSING ARTEFACTS

Related Video: Serious Comics: Making Cartoons with James Cicatko

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Affordances of Equality

Rancière, Emerging Media and the New Amateur

Learning through Critical Making

AUTHOR
Kurt Thumlert, York University

ABSTRACT
This article extends a recent educational engagement with the work of Jacques Rancière by linking his meditations on 19th-century worker emancipation to present cultural contexts and media forms. Taking Nick Prior’s (2010) notion of the ‘new amateur’ as point of departure, I argue that new media and attendant production contexts offer an unprecedented occasion for rethinking the educational experiments of Joseph Jacotot (the subject of Rancière’s The Ignorant Schoolmaster, 1991). By bringing Jacotot’s “method of equality” into relation with present forms of cultural production, I elaborate a notion of affordances of equality that updates Jacotot’s practice of “experimenting with the gap between accreditation and act’ — a method that invited learners to improvise in the gap between an expert role and a talent imitable by anyone at all. In conclusion, I ask what educational theory might learn from the new amateur, from the emerging media these amateurs are engaging, and from the production literacies they enact.

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