Tag Archives: meaning making

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

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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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Projective embodiment in Videogames and Digital Spaces

Brothers_header_601x232This article argues that gaming is an embodied phenomenon which is distributed across multiple conceptual domains. Videogames are, as Gee notes, “’action-and-goal-directed preparations for, and simulations of, embodied experience’” (23)[1]. However, gaming is more than just what happens on screen. It is a highly mediated experience (the screen sits between that player and the game) in which the player straddles two worlds. They simultaneously exist in the ‘virtual’ world as their character on the screen as well as in the ‘real’ world as they press buttons and manipulate the interface of the game. Indeed, Juul argues that playing a game is a “dual structure” in which “the actions we perform have the duality of being real events and being assigned another meaning within the fictional world” (141)[2]. Thus, when I click the mouse, I perform a real world action (moving my finger to press the button) as well as a symbolic action in-game (moving a character or selecting an item). Whereas Gee was primarily interested in what happens between the player’s head (mind) and the screen, I intend to examine embodiment across this dual structure of physical/virtual experience—that is, not just in the game but in the game play.

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Learning events and learning networks

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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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How to Look at Videogames: Three Perspectives

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What we need is a grammar of understanding, a way of describing how meaning making occurs in and around videogames. We’ve already made some progress across various disciplines and discourses, from design and art theory to cultural studies and educational applications. Often these approach games by examining what they mean. I care less about what videogames mean than how they mean it. I’ll leave meanings to critics; I care about the ways they mean, the perceptual features, the structures that support the creation of meaning. These are questions which inform both the making and playing of games. Indeed, I feel strongly that questions of meaning serve as a unifying space for both ends of videogames, design and play. Often it’s easy to treat these as wholly separate dimensions, where play is simply an emergent property of the design of the game, or where players interact with a “text” that comes pre-packaged and is simply decoded. I think this stems not from ignorance of the interdependent nature of design and play but in issues of access: critics from either dimension often lack effective ways to interact with and interrogate what the “other side” is doing, from the actual process of design and development to the multitudes of ways to play. Instead, it is far more productive to conceive of games as both designed and enacted.

This is why I feel how meaning happens (or doesn’t) is so important: it provides a more robust vocabulary across the practices of making games and enacting them. Continue reading

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