I recently wrote about the importance of themes to my teaching of writing and cannot wait to share my excitement about shaping my Writing II classes in the Spring 2019 semester around games. Lee Bessette and Jason Helms inspired my theme, but my approach (and the games we will play) will be more traditional (old school even). However, just like my friends’ students, we will explore what games can teach us about learning and communication. We will play a lot of games along the way and my students will also create (or hack) a game, but the central focus of our class will be writing and text. I think it is important that we continue to explore the evolving definition of text. Like other popular culture texts I have used in my classroom, I believe that games offer a great deal of insight into the human experience. I also think the experience of playing, studying, and creating games will help us develop a new appreciation for and understanding of audience, context, and rules of writing.
The semester will be roughly divided into four parts. Our initial focus will include playing four types of games: board games, electronic games, party games, and escape games when we meet in class. As my classes are hybrid we will also engage in online work as well and there we will explore the ideas of authors such as James Paul Gee, Jesper Juul, and Jane McGonigal as well as rhetoricians. At the culmination of this unit my students will craft a narrative argument about what games can (or cannot) teach us about learning and communication using their own gaming history as well as the texts we have explored.
Once we have set that rhetorical and gaming foundation we will dig into some serious rhetorical work and analyze one specific game to explore what that game can teach us about our culture and the ways that we communicate. This analysis will explore the text and context of the game as well as the community it engages.
We will then apply our developing analysis skills to our textbook, Reading the World, and craft arguments exploring an enduring question posed by humankind.
Finally, we will culminate in the development of a game that inspires players to explore the enduring question at the core of their argument paper, observe others playing their game, and compose an argument about what games can teach us about learning and communication.
I believe that games will bring us together as a community and help us become better thinkers and writers – achievement unlocked!