I eagerly signed up to blog for this week’s topic “Games and Writing,” in order to learn more about video games, and gaming since I am a little embarrassed to admit – I am novice. I came of age during Atari’s ascent, had friends with early Apple computers that had video games loaded into the software (primitive by today’s standards), but never caught the bug that so many of my contemporaries did. I read comic books as a kid and as a teenager, have returned to them as an adult, but somehow, I never jumped on the wave of video games, believing that they were a waste of time, as one grandfather (aghast!) makes comment in one of this week’s articles.
In my attempt to unpack why I felt they were not worth my time, I realized, I just was not that informed about them, and even a little frightened, because I did not know the lexicon necessary to enter the conversation of video games. However, I soon realized, after pushing past my initial discomfort, that if I believe that the study of images, film, television, comic books, graphic novels, and Cultural Studies, are apt canvas’s to read, and write about, so too are Video Games. Moreover, if I did not think that video games had arrived, I could not ignore that the seminal New York Times regularly reviews newly released, and popular video games, in a serious-minded fashion, as they would review a book, play, or film – providing video games weight and status.
In reading James Paul Gee’s “Semiotic Domains: Is Playing Video Games a ‘Waste ofTime’?” article and Ian Bogost’s “The Rhetoric of Video Games,” I noticed that both writer’s link and even go so far as to define learning to play video games as “learning a new literacy.” I was moderately suspicious but Bogost made an argument that resonated to me when he suggested that “playing video games is [a] kind of literacy . . . not one that helps us read but . . . that helps us make or critique the systems we live in” (136), which made sense to me after he had systematically chronicled the benefits that video games provide. I especially like how Bogost presents games that have socio-economic structures and questions that can assist with a student’s actively engaging with real world issues, that may seem more abstract when written only on the page, but more concrete and alive through the application of a video game.
James Paul Gee places an emphasis on recognizing that in the modern world, we need to acknowledge more than just print literacy to move forward. Gee’s sentiment reminded me that ever since motion pictures were developed, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, writing has been altered in order to incorporate the public’s new understanding of images. The Modern writers of the 1920’s and 1930’s made strides to incorporate the visual into the word in ways never before imagined, so as to make the text more like something the reading audience could “picture” happening in film. Reading words in a visual frame much like Gee argues for learning multiple literacies.
Notably, Virginia Woolf’s makes use of modern technology in a sequence in Mrs. Dalloway, in which a plane flies overhead, providing descriptive language to incorporate the propulsive, motion that the new technology provided (airplanes and film). Influenced by Impressionistic Art in the Fine Arts, and often making an attempt to meld different mediums, Woolf and her fellow Moderns embraced pushing the boundaries of the written word, through experimentation, stream of consciousness narration, and shifting perspectives in time and place. While I am not sure what Woolf and her colleagues would make of today’s multimodal landscape, many of their interests are extended in today’s digital mediums and literacies.
I believe this week’s readings assist in providing a solid foundation for the use of video games as a learning tool in the classroom by demonstrating active and applied effort from students as a result of playing video games. I am still not sure on quite how, or where to begin with in my own effort to get started. I do not want to wrangle with joy sticks or consoles, but I am interested in computer based games, or smartphone applicable ones; and therefore, I welcome suggestions from my fellow blog readers and writers.