Famously, Friedrich Schiller (1794) claimed that persons were ‘most human’ when they were at play. More recently, digital media and learning theorists have suggested that learners may learn best when they are ‘at play’, where serious play and educative/learning action coincide.
Starting with foundational work on play (Caillois, Huizinga) this course will trace links and relations between ‘serious play’, informal (digitally-mediated) game-based learning environments, and significant educational aims and creative accomplishments (making and design).
Although computer gaming represents, for many people, something unfamiliar, potentially subversive and antithetical to education’s intellectual and social goals, play has always been a powerful vehicle for deep, sustained and meaningful learning.
There is little doubt that young people today, who represent computer gaming’s largest and fastest-growing audience, are learning a great deal in and through computer-based play, but what is it they are learning, and how? And how do digital games and ‘serious play’ learning environments model principles and forms of ‘good learning’? And what are the possible links and relations between serious play and serious forms of creative cultural production – and critical cultural re/design? And how do we ‘do things’ with video games?
And what and how do people learn through creating and coding their own games?
Aims & Purposes…
The goal of this course is to give serious attention to, and careful analysis of, contemporary computer-based forms of gaming and play, unpacking a spectrum of terms and concepts, including foundational theories about play and games, sociocultural theories of game & play-based learning, design and learning principles, the affordances of role-play and simulation, learning in MMOs, ‘serious games’, and creative learning-through-game-design practices (production pedagogies), as well as art-games, critical game design and ‘games-for-change’. This course will also take a critical cultural studies approach to critically analyzing games and gaming cultures today, using feminist and postcolonial lenses.