Category Archives: Musings

Guiding Impact: Designing Impact Guides to use videogames for players, parents, and teachers

Impact Guide Header

As part of my work at the ASU’s Center for Games and Impact, I created the concept of Impact Guides. Impact Guides are a way to extend the experience of a game beyond what happens on the screen, and to reflect on key themes within the game and the connections to the larger world. I believe that games have the potential to transform how players see their actions, how teachers teach and engage students, and how families can share in experiences and talk about them.

I designed the Impact Guides to prompt players to think critically about their play—from the design and mechanics of the game to their own feelings to their everyday experiences—with a specific focus on the impact that these key moments can have.  Importantly, the Guides are invitations to not only reflect on personal experience Continue reading

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Learning events and learning networks

Network01_601x232

My advisor recently shared with me the idea of a “learning event,” and I’ve become interested in the idea. Learning events are an interesting way of bounding all the things that go into teaching and learning: the people, places, content, actions and so on. Learning events seem to cover a lot of ground in terms of describing the complexity of teaching and learning. Here I want to focus less on the various specific elements but how those elements work together, and how those events span across time and other learning events to form a network of learning. Continue reading

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From gamified to game-inspired: Leading a workshop for games in higher education

JBH_teaching At this year’s Games + Learning + Society conference , I was lucky enough to lead a workshop on using games in higher ed settings. I had three main goals for the workshop. First, I hoped to highlight issues specific to higher ed around games, learning, and (especially) teaching. Second, I wanted to bring together different perspectives on using games, from critical analysis of games to gamifying the class experience itself. Lastly, I hoped to start a larger conversation and build from this one-off workshop towards a more formal field of study focused on higher ed practice. To meet all three of these goals, Continue reading

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Play learning, or why playing games is important for learning about games

As part of the Learning, Literacy and Technologies reading group’s work this semester, I’m documenting some thoughts, notes, design goals and rationale, and some brain-dumps and debriefings from meetings. This regular series will live on both my personal website (gamerhetor.com) as well as a specialty site dedicated to game-inspired teaching and learning (gameinspiredteaching.wordpress.com).

Several students in ASU’s new Learning, Literacies and Technologies program and I, along with great faculty guidance by Dr. Elisabeth Gee, have started a reading group focused on videogames. We’re planning on covering some broad overviews of games in general, a little bit of gaming (and games studies) history, some deeper analysis of specific games, and the connections between videogames and learning. A future post may focus on our readings more directly, though at this point we’ve remained somewhat informal in how we’ve structured readings.

I’ve suggested a arcade/play session as part of our regular meetings for reasons I explicate below. The short version is that playing games is a critical part of studying them; Continue reading

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On being cannon fodder

Cuz I was getting butchered. Geddit??

I played some multiplayer in Modern Warfare 3 the other day because, well, I am a sucker.

Now, I have a not-so-secret aversion to FPS multiplayer. I am absolutely terrible at it, which is a big part of why I dislike it so. I have never been much of a “twitch” gamer, and I love to absolutely jam on every button on the controller as hard as possible, especially in those tense, firefight moments. This is an “end user” problem, to be sure.

However, another reason I am bad at it (and why I don’t enjoy multiplayer) is that it’s often really freakin’ hard to get better at it when I’m thrown in with a bunch of experts and my average life-expectancy is in the sub 10-second mark. While this isn’t an insurmountable hurdle (“rookies” get better all the time by playing with experts – hell, the trailer for the game even points this dynamic out), I find it very difficult and incredibly frustrating.

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Bridging the gap, part 2: Teaching and the “formal”/”informal” divide

I wish I had an "Enter" button in school...

I wish I had an “Enter” button in school…

In part one of this series, I briefly examined some assumptions about the differences between formal and informal learning. This led to some good discussion with my advisor and others in which it became apparent that an underrepresented part of the discussion is on the teaching in these situations.  As my advisor pointed out, often the topic of informal learning operates as if learning just happens on its own instead of as a response to some designed or implied instruction. Focusing on the teaching component of informal learning might provide a more complete picture of the situations, the circumstances, the opportunities, and the outcomes. Indeed, there seems to be a need for a theory of informal teaching to account for any learning that occurs.

In this post I attempt to unpack what “formal” and “informal” might mean by looking at some examples of teaching/learning interactions. In the next part of the series I will attempt to break down some key elements of these interactions and look for similarities and differences which might make up this distinction. My goal overall is to explore what it might mean for teaching and learning to adopt these “formal” and “informal” methods.

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Bridging the gap, part 1: Formal and informal learning environments

Meh.

I attended a great presentation the other day by Michael Levine from the Joan Ganz Cooney Center about gaming education reform.  The concept of “bridging” formal and informal learning environments came up several times during the discussion, and it’s been rattling around in my head ever since. I thought I’d knock out a few thoughts about the subject in an un-researched, seat-of-the-pants method (like the irresponsible academic I am). So, well, ramble ho.

Formal and informal learning environments

School seems to be the obvious example of a formal learning environment. Schools have classrooms with set expectations, learning outcomes, models for instruction, methods for assessment, a culturally propagated power structure, an institutional framework which perpetuates these structures and so on. Continue reading

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A (very brief) commentary on videogames and violence….again

Burning Beatles

I was asked by a writer for ASU’s State Press to provide some thoughts on a recent story about a town in Connecticut that plans to collect and trash violent videogames. Yes, this is happening once again. It’s not isolated, of course: Joe Biden is “discussing” the situation with industry groups as part of the larger weapons imitative coming from the White House.

So, with that as a backdrop, here’s a very quick and not-overly-nuanced reaction. TL;DR version: it’s mostly a lot of crap.

Thoughts on violence and videogames

To me, what’s interesting about this story is that the organizers seem to recognize the complex factors that lead to our culture of violence—and even seem to understand the solution—yet the end result is still to simply blame some token scapegoat. This is the part that gets the headline, of course: let’s burn videogames and it will make it better. It’s also pretty silly.
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Pimping ASU Humanities Interview with a certain videogame hack

I hate to use this stupid site only to pimp the stuff I do, but….well, I guess I don’t hate it that much.

Alright, with that cleared up, check out an interview I did as part of ASU’s Project Humanities. The guiding question is “Are we losing our humanity?” I was asked to talk about videogames and digital media specifically. Also starring my good friend and cool interweb scholar Alice Daer. Woot.

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EdGamer Podcast with Yours Truly

I recorded a podcast for EdGamer yesterday. Hosts Zack Gilbert and Gerry James were fantastic – accommodating and entertaining. Thanks for inviting me guys!

Here’s a link to the show: http://edreach.us/2012/06/23/edgamer-57-jeff-holmes-asu/

We talk about some news, a bit about the visual analysis talk I gave at GLS, a lot about education and gaming, and some about the Center for Games and Impact. An action-packed hour and some change.

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