GAMES4ED TWITTER CHAT REFLECTION FROM 4/27/2017

*I will participating in and writing reflections about Twitter chats with the games4ed hashtag this semester. Here is the second of those reflections.

2443947064

A few weeks back I participated in a Twitter chat, as with the previous Twitter chat I reflected on, the participants organised their thoughts and answers to thinking prompts by tagging their tweets with #games4ed and then following that hashtag to follow along with the conversation. This twitter chat, that took place on April 27th, had a theme of gamejams and was facilitated by Melissa Pilakowski (@mpilakow).

games4ed 8.PNG

I wanted to experiment with my participation during this twitter chat, with the hope of determining how effective the twitter chat format is for on the go mobile learning. The initial twitter chat I had participated in I did so at home sitting at my computer. I found it to be a mostly comfortable experience where I could follow the main conversation and any side conversations that came up in multiple windows on my laptop. But even with the option of contributing on multiple windows I felt that by the end I had fallen out of step with the main conversation by responding to the threads of tangential conversations. I hypothesized that the troubles I had in keeping up with the main thread of the conversation would only be exacerbated by trying to contribute with my phone and on the go. I still wanted to see if I could participate with the phone because Twitter is, at its core, a mobile communication platform and an avenue for on the go learning. I decided that for this chat I would only participate with my phone to know what the experience was like and to think of ways to tailor the experience for the mobile user.

Needless to say that it was much more difficult to keep up with the conversations during the twitter chat on my phone, I just did not have the texting dexterity to keep up with the rapid fire questions and responses. It also did not help that I had minimal background with the topic of gamejams. I decided to keep my contributions minimal so that I could focus on reading the responses from others and to grow my knowledge base around how to plan and implement a gamejam. Doing this lead me to read more of the responses, and provide some quick interactions, mostly “liking” the ideas of others, before formulating and sharing my answer to the posted questions, generally right as a new question was posted.

I did have one short but encouraging side conversation with the discussion moderator when I indicated that I was interested in gamejams to bring students together in the summer to keep math engagement up.

games4ed 1

Then through reading, synthesizing, and finally responding I was able to learned more about what hosting a gamejam for my group of math intervention students would require, and provide my newly formulated opinions of how I would approach hosting a gamejam.  Like how to get the word out to participants for the jam:

games4ed 6

What range of activities would be available at the gamejam:

games4ed 3

Why gamejams are valuable as educational experiences:

games4ed 2

What the goals for the gamejam:

games4ed 7

And finally what role do I see for myself as the facilitator in the gamejam:

games4ed 5

My experiment with participating in a twitter chat while using a mobile device was challenging because of the speed that questions were posted made keeping up with the conversation hard but in no way impossible. I felt that I got more depth out of the conversations that I contributed to when participating on my computer, but it was convenient to use my phone especially because I was away from home. If twitter chats were developed to be more mobile friendly I might suggest that the length of the chats are extended, instead of an hour for the entire chat with new questions introduced every few minutes, the chats could be spread over multiples hours with one question shared each hour, giving participants the time to engage in both the main discussion and the side conversations that are sparked by the main thread. Weaving participation in the twitter chat in conjunction with other life activities.

 

GAMES4ED TWITTER CHAT REFLECTION FROM 4/27/2017

From Gamified Commercialization to Gamified Activism – A Scholarly Text Critique

*In my pursuit of further education I am enrolled in a course on games and learning. Part of the expectations for this course is to take ownership of my learning and explore the connections between games and learning for myself, this blog post is a continuation of the documentation of my learning.

The first few months of 2017 have been a time of mulling over and realigning my priorities, and my independent research for my Games and Learning class reflect this change in priorities. I launched into this course’s independent research looking to support and strengthen my classroom teaching practice, but as the semester has continued my preoccupation with the current political climate has shown up in my independent pursuits. I have been using my article critiques and play journing to be playful with ideas of activism and games. For this article critique I have found a powerful text from Micah White, PhD,  a leading thinker in the field of political activism and the co-creator of the Occupy Wallstreet movement. His piece, From KillCap to WikiSwarms; Gaming and activism combine, appeared in Adbusters magazine, which is a not-for-profit magazine focused on fostering a de-commercialized society, and a publication that White is an editor of.

White leads off his discussion of activism and games by sharing a condensed history of gamification and commercialization. White asserts that corporations are using gamification techniques to make commerce more playful and to therefore further commercialism in society.  I agree with this statements about consumerism in today’s society as corporations use marketing promotions, social media, advertisements, “viral videos” to make buying products a game and owning products as badges for success. The twitter feed from Wendy’s fast food restaurant is an example of this playful approach to selling products.  

wendys 1

These playful tweets humanize the cooperation and if they go viral they become the subject of clickbait stories that expand the range of Wendy’s marketing reach and support the selling of more burgers.

wendys 2

These actions of mixing gamified techniques in commercialization shift the focus away from what economic actions are necessary for healthy, happy lives to winning the commercialization game or, as shown with the Wendy’s example, aligning oneself with the winning corporate team. The gamification of commerce makes the corporation the dungeon master providing the gold stars and badges to consumers who become game players trying to master the corporation’s game. White suggests that the script can be flipped, in playful ways, and a collective of loosely connected activists can take charge of the game to slow or stop what White calls the corporatocracy. Thus the individual’s identity can be changed from a player with little control over the design of the commercialization game to a player/designer hybrid in the activism game.

The player/designers in activism games have the opportunity to question the role of commercialism and corporations in society and have a chance to actively participate in a new narrative that redefines the power structure between individuals and corporations in the consumer economy. White supports, as the first step moving from commercialization games to activist games, the construction of video games and simulations that give users the opportunity to explore roles as activists through games and suggests that independent producers will be creating these games. In my independent research I have seen examples of these independently developed games that give a user a digital world simulation of specific acts of civil disobedience, and have written about them in previous blog posts. Games that come from independent producers give the user a perspective of an individual that has first hand connection to a given cause, providing the user exposure to the values of those individuals, not the values of corporations.  

Beyond games that are simulations of activism White suggests that activism movements themselves can be gamified. In the article White share the model of organizing direct action used by WikiSwarms where, users vote on a target corporation, then determine the action to take and even develop a message that they are sending, just like a flash mob. I love this on-demand protest organization but I worry, however, that with flash mob style direct action the novice users will not have the benefit of an experienced mentor. Who could advise about the physical world consequences for those participating in political actions that break the law. I would propose a similar activist organized flash protest game that is integrated with a legal bot that gives a novice activist the ability to simulate possible legal outcomes for proposed protests. Legal bots are messenger application chat bots, powered by legal databases, that users can ask legal questions to and get answers from, LawBot, for example, is a tool developed by Cambridge University students.

lawbot.PNG

Connecting with a legal bot will give another layer of knowledge for the user to protect them from partaking in protests and civil disobedience without understanding possible consequences.  

From Gamified Commercialization to Gamified Activism – A Scholarly Text Critique

Virtual Protest Organization – A Play Journal Entry

*This is the continuation of a series of blog posts for my Games and Learning course. In this journaling exercise I am going to play social games and analyze the game mechanics, design, and play experience, to identify how the game can be applied to learning in formal or informal settings.

If Not Now When bannor

I have been following a breadcrumb trail connecting me to games that explore social protest and activism. I was inspired to look for these games because of a scholarly text critique I did in the last cycle of my Games and Learning class, which reviewed an independently produced video game that enabled the user to  destroyed a an object of intolerance in virtual space. The tumultuous political times we live in have motivated me to become more politically active then I have been in the past and seeing that games have found a place in the resistance has been eye opening.  A Wired magazine article linked me to five suggestions that seemed interesting example of activism games for my play journal. I tried out the games suggested by Wired and was particularly interested in If Not Now, When? (INNW), created for the 2017 Resist Jam by independent producer Ravynn.

INNW is a simulation game that puts the user in charge of a occupy style protest camp. The user has to make decisions throughout the day about how to delegate time and resources that support the cause and ensure the comfort (food, water, shelter) and safety for the members at the camp. The user is presented with a dashboard that shows the statistics for different camp supplies and options for decisions that are made three times during the span of one day in game.

If Not Now When dashboard

Simulating the organization of a protest encampment was awesome because I was able to experience some of the challenges that go into the organization of a similar protest but without the physical world consequences. For example before I played I knew that I had to make sure there was plenty of food and water for camp members but through game play I developed a broader understanding of the daily need to keep tabs on the consumption of supply and to ensure that there is enough supplies in case of emergencies. I also encountered issues that I would not have imagined, such as corporations “donating” products for PR reasons and the possibility of those corporations derailing the message of the protest.

If Not Now When message 4

While this simulation would not prepare a user to run out and organize a protest encampment on their own, it does open the possibility for the user to think about struggles and problems that will likely come up during a protest and enable the user to proactively problem solve for possible obstacles.  

Overall the game was enjoyable and enlightening, I did run into two areas that detracted from the seamless game play. First there were events that seemed to be triggered by particular days in the simulation, to pass the event specific levels of supplies were needed, but if the user did not have the right level of supplies instead of going to a game over screen the inability to pass the event created a feedback loop and effectively froze the game. Also the point of the in game protest is left vague which is a good feature for making the game appealing to anybody looking to organize a protest, however, this became problematic towards the end of the game where there is a final decision to make. I’ll spare the spoilers but how one reacts to the decision could have been developed throughout the game and not right at the end, setting up the possibility of the choice at the beginning would give the user the chance to weigh the pros and cons throughout the simulation and not just at the end.

Virtual Protest Organization – A Play Journal Entry

Reflection Games and Learning – Cycle 5

*Reflection is an important element of learning. It is a chance to look back at activities and thinking and fit them in with a big picture of what is being learned. For my learning and games class I will be reflecting on my learning every few weeks in a series of blog posts. For these reflections I have a bank of questions to guide my thinking.

How did your participation in course activities this month contribute to your understanding of games (generally) and the relationship between games and learning?

I had a very interesting series of interactions on my affinity space over the last few weeks. I have join a fantasy football affinity space for two reasons. First fantasy football is a game that I enjoy and I felt that join this space was a way to learn more in the offseason and make me a better player. I am also very interested in applying fantasy football as a math learning activity with my students. I have posted to the affinity space what my project idea was and asked for suggestions from the community. This string of interactions have taught me two important lessons. First, the affinity space has been a wealth of knowledge and ideas about how to implement my plan, because the members have passion for the game they want to contribute their expertise and, for the most part, see a project like this succeed. I also have found that there are going to be dissenters, some constructive some not. If students are going to be in affinity spaces they will need to know how to take constructive criticism and more importantly knowing how to protect themselves from the trolls. For the students I work with, this means seeking out spaces that are monitored to protect children.  There is a Children’s reddit with moderators and vetting of contributors, and could be a start for building an affinity space that I would feel comfortable sending my students to. I did, with a quick inspection, find some features that worried me, however. Users had to check a box to search only within the children’s area, which is a red flag because I would want to users to have to opt-in to the adult areas not opt-out. Also, the amount of content seemed limited, meaning that affinity spaces would need to be created and developed before being useful, but it could be a start.

What preconceptions about games, play, and learning have you changed because of your course activities so far?

The biggest switch in my thinking over the semester have been that games are not the tools for learning but they are the catalyst for learning opportunities. Games give students the opportunity to problem solve with a set of constraints (game mechanics, in-game laws of physics), playing games and reflecting on strategy give students the opportunity to practice identifying what the obstacles and constraints are then finding solutions to those obstacles (finding answer in tutorials, trial and error, coplaying). Students who are engaged in games are also encouraged by their engagement to engage in interpersonal communication around the game. With excitement to engage in the communication a facilitator can scaffold that communication to be productive and prosocial. Finally reflecting on game play as a whole can be compared with physical world situations and students can identify connections between the game and the physical world and opportunities to transfer learning from one to the other.

How have you relied upon networks – with peers, via social media – to advance your learning in our course?

I feel I have developed a useful and efficient system to formulate and share my thoughts and musings with Hypothes_is annotations. I first attack readings (both required and chosen) by reading and using Hypothes_is to take initial notes in my own private working annotation group. This lets me organize my own ideas and read thought the article without being distracted by the ideas of others. Then I take my working annotations and transfer them over to the ILT5320 group. If no one has made an annotation in that section I can start the conversation. If others have shared their thoughts then I have already formulated my ideas around that concept and I can use those ideas in a reply to my peer.

Ask yourself a question about games, play, and learning – and provide a meaningful answer.

Looking to the future of my fantasy football math activities I have been thinking about what game mechanics I need to develop to structure my fantasy football math league?  The first step in playing fantasy football is determining the important statistics from the physical world football game that will be used in the fantasy game. These physical world statistics are multiplied by a value and converted into game points, so next a point value needs to be determined for each statistic. The most basic fantasy football games look at two statistics for scoring points, yards gained on the field and points scored (in the form of touchdowns, extra points, field goals, etc.). To keep the initial game accessible to all players these are the statistics I will use as well, these simple statistics will keep the game accessible to both novices and veterans of fantasy football. By focusing on basic statistics novices will not be overwhelmed by excessive statistics to keep track of or make predictions about. To keep game veterans, who could find this scoring system to basic, challenged aspects fantasy football games that have been traditionally automated will be done manually, this includes the of collecting of raw statistics and turning that data into game point thought mathematical calculations. These new challenge will keep a basic game engaging, even for the fantasy veterans. I also want to develop an evolving conversion rate between the raw statistics and game points so that each week different calculations and operations will be needed to turn raw calculations into game points. These evolving conversions will keep the scoring process engaging through increasing difficulty and support a wide range of mathematical practice. 

What are your ongoing curiosities about games and learning, and how might you pursue these interests?

I critiqued an article, recently, about an independent game producer who designed a game to send a political statement. It has sparked a curiosity in my to look deeper into ways to be politically active and playful at the same time. In this playful or creative vain I have been following a Twitter user, Limerickingthat creates limericks to accompany current news stories, they are funny and creative but share meaningful news, with a progressive spin, about what is happening in the world, most often focusing on politics and political decisions.

limeriking

These examples of creative and playful ways to engage in social activism hit me at a sweet spot of learning more about games/learning and engaging in the current social and political climate of the physical world. I have recently been introduced a tool, Bots for a Better World, that will take text messages I send to a bot that turns them into faxes to be sent to my representatives in congress. This tool is an engaging way to increase my access to those that represent me, that lets me use what I am comfortable with, texting rather than faxing, and the quirky interactions with the bot make the experience playful. I am going to continue my playful exploration of this bot with the hope of expanding the experience into a play blog entry.  

Reflection Games and Learning – Cycle 5

Games4Ed twitter chat reflection from 3/30/17

*I will participating in and writing reflections about Twitter chats with the games4ed hashtag this semester. Here is one of those reflections.

2443947064

Late week I participated in my first ever Twitter chat. In these chats participants use a common hashtag to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences about prompts shared by the chat moderator. In the chat I participated we used #games4ed and has a theme of gamify your classroom, moderated by Melissa Pilakowski (@mpilakow) and hosted by  Dr. Matt Farber (@MatthewFarber)

games4ed advertisment pic.PNG

I enjoyed the format of the twitter chat. The host shared questions one at a time and participants replied back. Initially the answers to questions came very fast and it was overwhelming to process all the information and ideas that was shared. By the time I had composed my answers and responded to some of the other participants, the next question what up and that is also when the side conversations started up. I would respond to something interesting  another participant shared or someone would comment on my ideas and we would lunch on a tangent. Needless to say I was quickly out of step with the main body of the Twitter chat. Playing catch up I stopped focusing on the questions themselves and looked to the responses and my ongoing side conversations to stay engaged but not feel overwhelmed.

The first question from the chat caught me off balance, it asked:

games4ed pic 2.PNG

I had not thought of games as being ways to “leave” the classroom my focus had been on engagement and how games could be used to increase motivation. But I did remember one game that I play in class that does transport students to a different vertula place and gets their bodies moving.  

games4ed pic 3

In the end I found that the side conversation that were sparked by this Twitter chat had the most profound impact on me. Through my discussions of GoNoodle I was able to connect with GoNoodle and have been receiving update about new games and activities on their platform. I also started chatting with a kindred educator spirit who is developing a fantasy football math curriculum for the fall. I think this was a very successful chat and I look forward to participating in another, this time with knowledge of the ways for to participate that best fit my learning style.

Games4Ed twitter chat reflection from 3/30/17

A Street Fight Against Intolerance – An Article Critique

*In my pursuit of further education I am enrolled in a course on games and learning. Part of the expectations for this course is to take ownership of my learning and explore the connections between games and learning for myself, this blog post is a continuation of the documentation of my learning.

together

I have been been trying to find balance in my roles as a teacher and a learner during my self exploration of Games and Learning. My teacher side wants to identify best practices that I can use with my students. I feel that I have let this piece of my identity drive most of my exploration of games and learning texts and because through this exploration I have found some interesting insights to guide my teaching practice going forward.  As a learner I want to take a step away from my teaching practice and look at how games are being played in areas outside of elementary education. This week I was committed to take off the teacher hat and let the another aspect of my life guide me when finding a game article to critique.

One aspect of my life that has recently become a larger factor is political activism. American values, as I see them, are under attack in an effort to shift away from acceptance or empathy in society. More than ever before I find myself sharing my views and trying to raise awareness in both physical and digital spaces. This week I decided to look at both my activism and games, inspired in part from a tweet from my professor sharing games to play at political rallies and marches.

I found a Huffington Post article, by author James Michael Nichols, showcasing a new video game released, by an independent developer Aquma. This game blew my mind. Released as a response to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and International Organization for the Family’s (IOF) “Free Speech” Bus. In a nutshell the “Free Speech” Bus uses the sides of a bus to share messages of binary gender assignments at birth. The new game, Intolerance Fighter II Tour Bus, gives the player a chance to respond to the intolerance of this moving billboard by simulating the destruction of this object hate – it lets you beat the snot out of the intolerance mobile, Street Fighter style!
IFII

Hiduken!

Intolerance fighter is a remix of the car crunching mini game from Street Fighter II with the “Free Speech” Bus replacing the original car. I loved the car crunching mini game because it gave players an opportunity to practice button combinations to create specialized attacks that could be used against game opponents. The remix gives users the chance to vent frustrations about intolerance in a simulated environment, without the repercussions of physical property damage.

The bus in the physical world takes the constitutionally protected freedom of speech to attack the realities of Americans that don’t fit into the concepts of binary gender assignment, held by ignorant or intolerant groups like NOM or IOF. Giving those people the chance to vent frustrations in a simulation is awesome. The digital destruction of the bus protects users from legal repercussions and gives the opportunity to focus on the intolerance being spread by the bus and not shifting focus on the damage done by vandalism.  

The question could be asked if this type of video game activism vandalism will lead to increased vandalism in the physical world. Now it is true that the “Free Speech” Bus had been met with protests and vandalism in its stops across the country. The New York Times recently ran a piece that pointed out that violent media, like video games, are one factor in many that lead to physical world violence, but not the major factor. The Huffington Post article gives the game creator a platform to remind readers that this game, like other games and novels, is a work of fiction and that the violence prorated is merely a metaphor for releasing the anger that stems from intolerance towards specific cultures, communities and humans in general.

A Street Fight Against Intolerance – An Article Critique