Liveblogging the GLS Conference: Thursday

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Liveblogging yesterday's GLS conference went pretty well, so I'm back at it today! Today's a full da, so there's going to be even more after the jump!
  • Keynote: Soft Modding, Jim Gee
    • Anecdote about shut-in mother who made a purple toilet for her daughter in the Sims, got hooked on the modding community, and now has ~7M downloads.
    • Repeated, wonderful pattern - start with a dedicated community of players and they'll become designers, given a chance.
    • One way they do this is by giving each other challenges, like the Nickel and Dimed Challenge.
    • The book Nickel and Dimed is a simulation; so is The Sims.  The Sims isn't actually good for it - she has to add extra restrictions.  Lists cheats not to use.  Lists helping mechanics that aren't realistic for her challenge.  No quitting without saving.    She's got considerable technical understanding, but she's using it to build social engagement.
    • On argument from members about unrealistic restrictions, the argument is: it's not a full simulation, it's meant to capture the feeling.  It's a metaphor.
    • The player is fostering modding to require emotional intelligence.
    • We're losing to China in algebra?  The answer is not to teach more algebra... it's
    • "This sort of emotional intelligence ... is a future thing, either we get it or we go out of business."  It's not common now, in women or men.
    • Modding, and its communities, leads to new kinds of stories.  They incorporate and move fluidly between what the player does as a gamer; what the character does in the game; how the rules of the simulation or game affected the story (the context); and the story that results.
    • People wanted to keep the results of the game to show their kids what they lived through!
    • EA could never do the Nickel and Dimed challenge.
    • 21st century leadership.
    • No whining!  If she could turn the Sims into this challenge, well, there's no excuse not to make games about anything.
    • If you give people creative tools, everyone is creative
Session 2: Leveraging Game Design for Learning
  • Gaming After School: Boys and Girls Clubs of America Game Design Curriculum
    • 9-13 year olds, 4000+ clubs, soft launch fall 09, hard launch fall 10
    • systems thinking, iterative design process, introductory programming concepts, game design principles, problem solving skills, and teamwork and collaboration.
    • PETLab, Education Development Center, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, AMD Foundation, and Todd Wagner Foundation
    • 30 min. think & design, 15 min play-test, 15 min. repeat = 60 min. total (this was the final, not the initial, time spread)
    • Tech: Gamestar Mechanic, Scratch, and craft materials.
    • First Playtest results: not college, not school... B&G Clubs. Needed to be sensitive to the culture of the community.
    • Learned: fit the culture.  modularize, and give "recipe cards" rather than literal readable instructions.  Flex with tech
    • Learned from round 2: kids don't like the deconstruction or working on someone else's game.  I wonder whether they need it, though.
    • Now, more modular: Design 101 workshop, then Scratch, then "YOUR" game.
    • Technologies, finally: Scratch and paper.  Gamestar just wasn't readily available.
    • Questions:
      • through game literacy can you create issue literacy
      • how do you design for a culture other than your own
      • can the iterative process at the core of design transfer to other areas?
  • The Psycholingistics of Children's Game Design: Results of Year 3 of the Gamestar Mechanic Project, Alex Games
    • They designed GSM around teaching kids to think like designers.  But kids don't want to be taught, they want to be listened to.
    • Theoretical framework: designed to help children learn to adopt the discourse of game designers, with its asociated thinking and communication practices.  (Gee, 2003)
    • central to that is using the specialist "language of games" (in all its modalities).
    • I'd like to find out from him what 'gamer terms' kids used.  We wanted to work that into the world, but didn't know as well what terms kids use (now).
    • Made Alex Games 'just another player'.
    • Children don't learn to thnk *about* GSM, but *with* it, using three dialogues:
      • Material - through iterative trial and error, players learn the design grammar and the system's thinking.
      • ideal player - using the materials to express an idea of a game - creating an 'ideal player' which the game calls for through its design.
      • the real player - talking about how the game will need to play out with a player - through terminology referring to the player.
    • what's next?  what is the utilitarian value of the programming?
  • Learning Within a Nodal Ecology Activated by Gamestar Mechanic, Robert Torres
    • This talk focuses on what a knowledge domain is and how GSM fostered the growth of a knowledge domain around game design.
    • The domain wasn't conceived as nodal, but it was: discussion happened in the game, out of school, at home, on the forum, etc.
    • The context: 50% Black and Latino kids drop-out ... but then we want a program to teach despite that? 
    • Across nodes, there were architectural elements that all occurred in each node: social activity, specialist language, distnict physical or virtual spaces, behavioral norms defined early by participants, ways of being, time allocations...
    • This isn't novel-- it's "islands of knowledge"
    • "Quest 2 Learn" got a flurry of writing and typing.
  • Creativity in Videogame Programming as a Pedagogy
    • We're coming to understand that creativity isn't innate, a gift, but contextual, varied, and enabled.  The move from religion to science also witnessed a big shift in how creativity was conceived.
    • How does Scratch manage its community?
    • Learned to leverage the students' imitation of existing work, rather than fight it.
  • Q&A
    • Alex Games: we don't yet know how designers can and do talk to each other, what "expert practice" is.
    • Gamestar's not yet fully out there - so we haven't learned much from it yet.  Alex inserted some ringers - and it REALLY helped the kids.  Who were these people and users?
    • There's a bit of a suppressive nature in schools and clubs - no one wants to critique and risk seeming not to be a team player, or to imply to their funders that there are problems with what is being funded.
    • For a game being used in a workshop or school, it can be good to separate the developers from the mentor/coordinator - it lets the mentor be a peer rather than the vulnerable designer.  Alex Games wasn't the creator of Gamestar Mechanic, so he could be 'one of the players'.
    • ACME Animation mentioned as an excellent mentor community for animation.
Session 3: Games Vs. Schools
  • I didn't take many notes this session because the room was set up very poorly - the setup required speakers to stand in front of the projector, or in front of me; the sound was low, and there were no outlets in the room.
Session 4: Worked Examples
  • MacArthur put $50M into the field.  But how to assess, when the field doesn't exist yet?  One way is to require a "worked example".
  • Classic definition: take a well-solved problem and ahve an expert walk through it.  But how in a new field?
  • In a new field, look for exemplars.  Not the canonical example, but work that's clearly good and is probably central.
  • Shree Durga: literacy around coding in  Civ 4 forums.
  • Robert Torres: looking at systems thinking and challenging theories of situated learning.
  • Caro Williams: WoW, and using mathematics and narrative within.
  • Matthew Berland: Pandemic (collaborative board game) and how they collaborate to learn the rules and build strategies: distributed cognition.
Evening Keynote: For the Lulz: How 9000 Internet Jackasses Took On the Church of Scientology and Redefined the Politics of Play
  • Was Julian Dibbell the person who gave on of my fave talks last year, in defense of griefers?
  • Politics of play: we usually think about laws against games, rules against games in schools, etc.  But he means to explore how play can be a driver for politics.
  • Presents the Anon "Message to Scientology" video not as an initiator, but the point at which the movement got it together, uniting the messy campaign from before the video and taking from illegal hacking back to a more traditional protest movement.
  • Moving to the playful aspect makes serious response from the church difficult.
  • Attempts a definition of 4chan.  And /b/: "freewheeling cacaphony of hilarity and stupidity".
  • Anonymity is NOT pseudonymity.
  • The perfect anonymity of /b/ leads to games.  This thing: go!
  • "You think you can get lost in wikipedia?  Go to 4chan and encyclopedia dramatica and you can get lost in a parallel universe where nothing is of use to you."
  • 4chan pwns Time Magazine.  Brilliant. Made an acrostic of the top people of all time.
  • "One of the important things about trolling is picking your target. Whcih means taking yourself too seriously."
  • Look up the Sekrit Code of Anonymous.
  • Precedents: seattle, 1999; phillipines, 2001; spain, 2004; moldova, 2009.  "Get people out on the streets and freak people out" is easy enough to do.
  • Anonymous : lulz :: linux : lulz.  A ludic motivation.
  • copyright is integral to "the tech", to Scientology's being - ostensibly because deviating from dogmatic technology would bring harm to people.
  • - useful in Scientology vs. the Internet
  • tech : memes :: fair game : trolling
  • general point: project chanology may not be generalisable because of the specificity re: information.
  • analogy to linux: if they don't stay focused on the code (lulz) but get caught up in fighting microsoft ("moralfags", by /b/ terminology)
  • more extreme and despicable acts, he says, are tactical, to police the moralfags. 

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This page contains a single entry by Scott Price published on June 11, 2009 10:20 AM.

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