Writing the Game

Something that seems different about video games from most of the other types of rhetorical objects we have talked about is the ability of students to replicate them. A lot of what we analyze and talk about in the classroom are things that students can themselves create at least a rough version of themselves. We assign researched academic articles, and have them write their own research papers. We assign personal narratives, and have students write their own poignant personal histories. With the currently available technology, many of them can even create their own music and movies with relative ease. Doing these things themselves is intended to help them better understand the types of rhetorical moves possible when they engage with these texts in the future.

But the technology to design a video game is specialized and hugely time-intensive. It’s hugely unlikely that someone is going to be able to conceive of and construct even a basic game on their own terms for an end-of-semester project. Obviously students don’t need to create something in order to understand it, but doing so can offer a valuable perspective on analyzing the text.

Of course, even if they could, it comes with its own set of problems, mostly in the realm of how, as teachers, we would be able to evaluate them. It’s hard enough to think of a way to evaluate a non-participatory visual composition–a video game would have drastically new problems, including time required to finish it and whether or not we teachers even could finish it.

The rhetoric of video games is mostly what we have been discussing in this week’s articles, so is simply playing them and talking about them in a classroom setting enough? Would you ever assign a video game in order to talk about it better in class? Instead of creating a video game, could you have students create their own explicitly rhetorical board games or RPGs and try to evaluate those? Is this question even worth asking? I’m really not sure, but I do want to know what people think.

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One comment on “Writing the Game

  1. Mark, I think this is a great observation, and I think the questions you ask are ones that are definitely worth asking. In response I might ask some questions of my own: What if there were software to make game creation a relatively simple process? And what if there were a place for users to share the games made by this software? Or, what if there were a game that was completely based on user generated content, effectively turning game-making and story telling into the same thing?

    If scaffolded correctly, it might lead to some pretty cool things happening in the classroom.

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