Today is obviously a blog-writing day. Last post for now – ‘The Ecology of Games‘ may be downloaded freely in whole or in part from this page here – and it’s legal! Many of the big names in game studies are in this volume.
The Ecology of Games
Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning
Edited by Katie Salen
In the many studies of games and young people’s use of them, little has been written about an overall “ecology” of gaming, game design and play–mapping the ways that all the various elements, from coding to social practices to aesthetics, coexist in the game world. This volume looks at games as systems in which young users participate, as gamers, producers, and learners.
The Ecology of Games (edited by Rules of Play author Katie Salen) aims to expand upon and add nuance to the debate over the value of games–which so far has been vociferous but overly polemical and surprisingly shallow. Game play is credited with fostering new forms of social organization and new ways of thinking and interacting; the contributors work to situate this within a dynamic media ecology that has the participatory nature of gaming at its core. They look at the ways in which youth are empowered through their participation in the creation, uptake, and revision of games; emergent gaming literacies, including modding, world-building, and learning how to navigate a complex system; and how games act as points of departure for other forms of knowledge, literacy, and social organization.
Ian Bogost, Anna Everett, James Paul Gee, Mizuko Ito, Barry Joseph, Laurie McCarthy, Jane McGonigal, Cory Ondrejka, Amit Pitaru, Tom Satwicz, Kurt Squire, Reed Stevens, S. Craig Watkins.
About the Editor
Katie Salen is a game designer and interactive designer as well as Director of Graduate Studies in Design and Technology, Parsons School of Design. With Eric Zimmerman, she is the coauthor of Rules of Play (MIT Press, 2003) and coeditor of The Game Design Reader (MIT Press, 2005).
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this one before, but if not, check out this post here to understand a bit more of what’s going on on the technological front concerning immersive worlds for learning… and why Croquet might be a better place to spend our time:
“The Croquet Constortium is “an open source metaverse software foundation” which has developed Croquet, a development environment/architecture for creating virtual worlds. The presentation was given by two of the founding architects of the platform: Julian Lombardi, Duke University’s assistant vice president of Academic Services and Technology Support (Julian’s blog), and Mark McCahill, also at Duke (and creator of the Gopher protocol). Their point was that the Internet was designed as a client-server model back when computing power and bandwidth were scarce, so authoritative servers were needed to provide clients with the necessary state. But that model is no longer valid — 30 users can stress a game server using that antiquated architectural model. And so to build new virtual environments using that schema is thus fundamentally flawed. Their Croquet platform is peer-to-peer based, so the users retain the current state of the virtual worlds, and new users logging on get the latest version of the world from the closest node on the network. The architecture stresses the replication of computing rather than of data — it is a coordination protocol.”
And finally, “7 ways Croquet is Better than Second Life“. I have yet to try Croquet, but it is certainly worth keeping an eye on.
Like the Borg said, ‘Resistance is Futile’.
So far, I have not succumbed to Facebook. I’m on Linked In, I write this blog, I’m supposed to be contributing to the Ancient Bloggers’ Group Blog, I manage two other blogs for other projects, I keep the RWU website going, I’m building a virtual excavation in Second Life, I’m writing two works of Interactive Fiction (as an experiment to teach historical literacy), I’m trying to figure out how the scenario builder in Caesar IV works so I can create a Forum Novum scenario, I have at least four articles on the backburner, plus sundry agent-based models… oh yes, I teach from time to time too…
But it looks like I’ll have to join Facebook, if only to evaluate what looks like the most useful application of it so far, at least as far as teaching/learning is concerned: ‘Study Groups‘. From Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog:
“Many academic Facebook applications are merely search boxes or other non-social search and information services transposed to Facebook (e.g., JSTOR Search or the countless library search widgets). Study Groups, on the other hand, gets it right by emphasizing the networking and collaboration possible within Facebook.”
From Jane Hart’s Blog:
“Study Groups is a Facebook app. It’s a social project management tool aimed at students to help them to easily collaborate online and in person. It lets them:
* Easily log in and set up a group using their existing Facebook ID
* Discuss assignments in a discussion board
* Share files and notes
* Assign tasks and responsibilities
* Schedule meetings
* Stay up-to-date on the latest group activity”
Having once caused one university’s entire Moodle system to crash during an upgrade (it wasn’t entirely my fault, there was some custom coding in the back end that I didn’t know about!), it is easy to imagine something easy and straight-forward like this (no coding, no installing, no ftp’ing, no worrying about which version of MySql and Php are on the server) evolving quite quickly to become an effective management system for rounding up and sorting out your distance ed, online, or real-world classes.
On a similar note, there is now a WordPress plug-in to achieve the same thing. Look at what Scholarpress is up to:
“ScholarPress is a developing hub for educational WordPress plugins – bridging the gap between technology and pedagogy. At our launch we have two plugins that work independently, but can be combined together.
Courseware enables you to manage a class with a WordPress blog, including a schedule, bibliography, assignments, and other course information.
WPBook works with the Facebook Development platform to create a Facebook Application (addable by users within the site) using a WordPress blog.
“I think the most interesting things will happen between and among such systems that work together as an ecosystem exchanging data. The capability to draw upon a diverse array of powerful web services (delivering XML-encoded data, or similar formats like JSON) from data providers such as Nabonidus, Open Context, Freebase, GoogleDocs, the Portable Antiquities Scheme and others.”
I think this is what we’re starting to observe, a developing ecosystem where multiple services are fused together, seamlessly, in a way where their use is no longer reserved for the geeks amongst us.
Resistance is futile!