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Sep 26, 2005



Fantastic! What a brilliant idea.


"Written assignments should be scrupulously edited and virtually free from mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation before they are turned in for a grade."

Grammar, spelling and punctuation 4 teh win!



Perhaps the GL/RL consequence thing is highly dependent on another eternal question, what one means by 'game'. Inevitably, the 'game life' magic circle is a subset of everyday practice, but the degree to which that circle is porous in both directions is highly dependent on the degree to which the game allows for an extension of the everyday social. In this way mmorpgs are more porous than, say, Tetris or even networked FPSs for a whole range of reasons.

What I m getting at is that perhaps, one stumbling block for the study of games in general is that on a number of critical fronts (the RL GL relationship being one example) it becomes impossible to make any solid claim about games and using the term to cover such diverse artifacts (especially where MMORPGs are concerned) particularly in an academic approach to analysing them, gets in the way of building strong theoretical foundations.

waffle waffle waffle...


Very strange.

Technical writing is all about the avoidance of business-ese or other technical jargon. Simple, direct language.

To my mind, an Omni-Tek press release or memo that strictly avoided the use of such cliched language would constitute a heinous violation of the genre.


A few thoughts/concerns...

1) This rush to build MMOGs and/or use them for learning before we even know what they're good for starts to look a lot like how every other technology has been "integrated" into Education in the past. Stick a tool with new bells and whistles in an already broken system, then curse and blame the tools when it simply doesn't work.

2) What happens when you add assessment to ingame activity? There is a great interest in using games (including MMOGs) for assessment purposes. It's understandable, as the notion of dynamic and formative assessment suddenly becomes tangible and possible at a whole new level. Folks fear institutionalizing games (below), but IMHO one of the big issues tangled up with that is attaching assessment to ingame actions. It's one thing when I get to seige a castle for fun. Its another when my siege performance becomes a gatekeeping mechanism by which I am now judged ready or able (or whatever other tepid word we want to use here) to move onto, say, college. If games are going to be used for educational assessment, particularly in K-12, they will also be caught up within an institution that is as much about categorizing folks and (from a cynical perspective) reproducing social class as it is about actual learning.

3) Gaming is also about transgression. What happens when you institutionalize it? Best case scenario: you make the "institution" or whatever relevant again. Worst case scenario: Christian Rock Problem.

This all sounds cynical. It's not. The conclusion is to let gaming change the institution and not just get injected in as if its an "intervention." And, to do that, you will need practicing educators (more Amandas) and researchers to build the activities/curricula around the games and admin/policy peeps to know how to shift the system.

/end rant


What happens when you add assessment to ingame activity?

An interesting question. Before Richard removed the forums for his book, there was a thread I'd started on what the virtual world equivalent of the "elixir" (better known as "The Ultimate Boon") was for his analogy to Campbell's Hero's Journey.

One of my suggestions was some kind of proof of leadership skills as exhibited in the virtual world. I never really took it anywhere, and couldn't figure out anything useful... meh?


I wonder, how does this tie into the work of Ragnar Tornquist's involvement with AO? He is an excellent writer.


Congratulations Ms. Linder! Another 21st century breakthrough. For why all this makes economic sense, see today's BBC article on building airplanes virtually, and one can see how online gaming is not just for learning, but for work. Also check out Rod Riegle of Central Illinois University, the first professor to have an entire course be just one big online game. Nice job Nova Terra for reporting this important event.


I'm not certain if it's a faux paus to respond to one's own write-up, but I'd love to address some of the issues that have been brought up.

Assessment utilizing an online game was something I wrestled with for this course. The students are not assessed on how well they master the mechanics of the game--the game is the context for discussion and learning, not the subject matter. It's the learning environment in which to apply the techniques and issues that the course covers.

Despite this, I encountered a lot of student anxiety at the beginning of the semester because students were worried about "not being gamers." Their concern over being Gamers(tm), or not, fascinated me, so I brought it up in class. This "gamer" identity was an unexpected boon because it lead to an excellent discussion on identity-creation in communities--What makes one a gamer? Does it mean simply playing games? What is the mastery, skills, vocabulary required? We (my department) also address identity by teaching Etienne Wenger's Communities of Practice theory, but being able to apply this directly to their shared experience of the MMORPG has been (in my humble experience!) much more productive and accessible than any theoretical discussion. Their own preoccupation with being (or not being) gamers was an immediate resource.

In fact, what really gets me excited as an instructor (and, admittedly, avid gamer), is the way that the game allows students to discuss theoretical principles at multiple levels. When we discussed collaboration, I had the students go out and run a group mission in the game. The classroom quickly devolved into chaos--many students had never grouped before, there were disagreements, failures, different levels of experience, technical difficulties, challenges familiar to any MMORPGer--but afterwards, it provided an excellent paralel between working collaborative groups and their online "collaboration." The strategies like project planning (assigning project roles--whether tanking/healing in a game or researching/revising in a project) were much more concrete and meaningful to them, having had this in-game experience.

I've had similar experiences discussing literacy, community learning, and ethics. An earlier commenter, Chris Pearce, brought up the issue of jargon or "business-eese" in Omni-Tek. We actually addressed that one day in class and had an interesting discussion about ethics, corporate/community bias, and their responsibility as communicators. Students debated how they, as Omni-Tek employees, should balance audience, ethics, and accuracy when it conflicted with the company line.

I think it's important to address learning to play games as a literacy that is every bit as complex and situated in context as other, more traditional literacies. Entering the technical world as a new engineer/scientist/expert often times is just as bewildering as starting life on an alien planet as you do in AO. If students can "learn how to learn" on Rubi-Ka (AO's world), they will have at least a starting point on Earth.


In a previous message, Constance writes that "this rush to build MMOGs and/or use them for learning before we even know what they're good for starts to look a lot like how every other technology has been 'integrated' into Education in the past. Stick a tool with new bells and whistles in an already broken system, then curse and blame the tools when it simply doesn't work."

Just out of curiosity, what rush are you talking about? As you note, Amanda's syllabus is a good example of how a curriculum can be thoughtfully integrated with an MMO. There are other examples as well. For example, Ann Beamish has made innovative use of Second Life in her courses on architecture and urban planning.

In reading through the growing literature in our field, I am consistently impressed with the thoughtful manner in which theorists are approaching the educational potential of MMOs. There seems to be a conscious attempt to avoid repeating past mistakes, and few (if any) have argued that new bells and whistles will fix a broken system.

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