Wednesday, September 13, 2006

my game making manifesto

This half baked manifesto came to me in a flash tonight. It provides a framework, for further fleshing out, of what I plan to try to get across at Cairns, ACEC.
  1. Game making is motivating and an excellent introduction to programming
  2. Game making programs now exist which make it easier than it was before
  3. Programming is a HOT (higher order thinking) activity
  4. Programming is hard and perhaps not everyone can do it or would want to do it
  5. Everyone ought to receive an invitation to be taught programming, which they can experience (toe in water), accept or reject
  6. We need good teachers of programming, teachers who understand both programming, learning theory and learners
  7. Teachers of programming need to develop (design, program, refactor, test, publish) their own programs / games
  8. It is even better if the programming is linked to significant social justice issues, eg. africaGame
  9. Blogs and wikis ought to be incorporated into the development process to enhance communication and collaboration
  10. Blogs and wikis aren't enough on their own. We need to study and / or develop design and communication tools that represent this whole process and enable it to be better discussed and communicated, eg. UML diagrams, design patterns
  11. Learning theory continues to evolve dynamically, that needs to be integrated into this whole process
Quick elaboration of some points:

4. Programming is hard. I've come across a few articles about this lately, in particular one which claims to have a test that can determine who can and who cannot program.

6. is a major challenge to the education system as it currently exists, one which it is unlikely to meet. Although it is realistic to summise that not much will change in this direction in the mainstream, it could still be taken up outside the system, as part of enrichment programs for the Gifted and Talented, for instance.

10 and 11. This has been a major focus of my blog in the past few months. I still plan to setup a wiki to further clarify these issues, even though I have been slow to do this

I have not including game playing in the above. Although I'm persuaded by people like Tony Forster and James Gee that Game playing leads to important and different learning it is still (a) not really my thing, (b) even harder than game making to introduce into Schools


Unknown said...

I've been thinking about game playing and about World of Warcraft in particular, how that ties in with your points 9&10 and how it relates to game making.

The edugame community is slow to realise the significance of WoW and its community. COTS (commercial off the shelf) games are seen as vehicles for conveying content, like Rollercoaster Tycoon for physics or Age of Empires for history. But a couple of writers have started me thinking.

Constance Steinkuehler (one of Gee's students?) writes about learning residing in part outside of the individual, in the learning community, "An individual comes to understand the world (and themselves) from the perspective of the community of practice they participate in"

Prof. Henry Jenkins writes "But if we look at the commercial sector, most of the learning now takes place outside the box, in the interface between games and other media, in the metagaming talk that takes place within fan communities that grow up around the game. Serious games needs to broaden its perspective to think about these dimensions of game design."

This ties in with Vygotsky's Social Constructivism and probably with Siemen's Connectivism.

The two way web or web2.0 has enabled supportive learning communities to arise. In World of Warcraft, the guilds are such communities. They are enabled by in-game features but also by VoIP which is not part of the game.

I have written in my blog about the great educational value of WoW. Much of this value resides in the community rather than the game itself.

Back to game making. Game making and game playing are social pursuits. A game is made for an audience. A game is often played socially. We have seen how supportive learning communities have arisen spontaneously in our game making classes.

So its all about learning communities enabled by increased connectivity. I might write more when I get my thoughts untangled.

Bill Kerr said...

Thanks for interesting comment tony. I'd like to see more when you "untangle". My thoughts on the significance of game playing communities are tangled too.

Part of me is still not convinced because I don't feel an urgent need to go off and get involved in MMORPGs. Isn't life itself a MMG and why isn't that enough? OMG, I'm sounding conservative now?!

I can't help but think that individuals and individual learning remains very important, while agreeing that on line collaboration has become far more important than previously. How do we join together theoretically what happens inside and outside of the skin? ( inside / outside ) What is the role of the dissident individual who goes against the tide of mass opinion in the brave new world of WoW? How does it prepare people for that? What are the important things which WOW does not prepare people for? Are there dangers as well as benefits?

I remember Ken Price raised some of those questions earlier eaarlier:
"I had on my office wall an old cartoon by Gary Larson called Hopeful Parents. It shows the usual vacant Larson parents proudly watching their kid play a computer game, while a thought bubble above their heards showss a newspaper open to job adverts like "Nintendo expert wanted $50,000 salary...Wanted SuperMario Player, $100,000 plus your own car ... Can you save the Princess? We are hiring skilled staff NOW" etc. The satire still works."

Anonymous said...

Some very good points Bill. For over a decade, I asked my students the question "What can you do to make the world a better place to live in?" I am very pleased that you include the social justice dot in your manifesto.

Bill Kerr said...

Thanks, I've clarified this point with myself over the past day, in preparing for my Cairns paper: Teaching programming skills using Game Making, Blogs and Wikis

When I taught my year 11s game making skills and then making their own games and using blogs and wikis to document the process I thought it was important to put myself through a similar process

That was one origin of the africaGame wiki, that I wanted to see what it was like myself to do the things that I was asking my students to do. For me, it was more interesting to try to make a game with social justice implications. I've learnt a lot from setting up africaGame and the process is continuing. I need to write more about what I've learnt, what insights that has given me as to what I am asking my students to do. For one, thing I don't much like a limited time line, that you have to produce a finished product by a certain date.

In the open source movement it's called, eat your own dogfood.