Games for Change Festival 2013: 10th Anniversary Edition | Part 2

Hope you all enjoyed the holiday weekend.  Fun, friends, and America isn’t too bad a way to spend some time.  Maybe you even got some good old gaming on.  Speaking of games, let’s get back to GFC13.

Day One Continued …

Scaling Up “Classroom-Grown Games”

The Historia game was proudly on displayMichael Angst (E-Line Media) and Rick Brennan (Histrionix Learning Company) teamed up to show off their game based learning gem, Historia.  Here was a game designed to teach the entire curriculum of, quite obviously, a history class.   The goal was to teach and guide kids to make better decisions alongside learning the lessons of a middle school history class.  I’d try to describe what I saw in the footage and slides but the explanation from their own website does it better than I could, “HISTORIA is a game where students team up to lead a civilization. Watch your classroom transform as students research history, debate strategy and take risks that will determine the future of their people.”   Obviously check out the site for more information.   What I do want to add was that as I watching the kids on the screen, you could see the enthusiasm on their faces… and that is something you love to see with kids, gaming, and learning.

Historia was started in a single classroom in Houston Texas and was successful to the point that the team behind it was tapped to design the curriculum for an entire School of Play in Houston.  Almost makes me want to go back to middle school… almost.  In creating this type of classroom experience, Rick and Michael are taking a bottoms up approach to getting into school.  The teachers choose whether or not to use a method and the school administrations approve.  Some school districts choose the methods/programs and then force the teachers to utilize them.  It would appear to me that that is not the way to get a teacher to embrace a way of teaching.  An educational game, or any class learning, is only going to be as well executed and effective as the dedication of the teacher in the classroom.

I for one am excited to see how this immersive education-in-gaming school works out and what it will show us about the future of gaming and education.

RANTS: Gamifying Schools and Schoolifying Games

Now that is some amazing attire for a panelNow this was interesting.  This panel was four different games for changer thinkers going off on a topic they felt strongly about that might otherwise be neglected at the conference.  It was rapid fire with each speaker getting about 5 minutes to rant.  Some very interesting, thought provoking stuff.  I am not going to do their talks justice but I’ll try and give it a go.

First off was James Bower  and if you saw my live-tweeting, he was the gentleman dressed as a spirit of Native American folklore which I will not butcher by trying to remember the proper name of but here’s the picture.

James’ rant was about the inherent problems with the education system and questioning whether adding all of these different gaming elements to learning is really what our kids need.  Learning by doing is becoming a lost art and where do we want that to go.

Andrew Gardner was up next and he was on about how we support teachers who use game based learning and how the question of educational gaming comes is boiled down to too simple a question of motivation.  Engagement with students being either intrinsic versus extrinsic.  Intrinsic being where they are playing the game because it is fun or if they are playing because there is an extrinsic goal of learning.  It is in no way that simple. There is a misunderstanding of gaming structures within the educational community at large.  What the games really should be doing is “producifying” which I can best describe as creating and producing as the goal.  A terrible explanation I know but it was not the easiest thing to describe, which is the point – gaming can do a lot and shouldn’t be boxed in.  But it does give us this great quote, “Gamification without producification is educational tyranny.”

Dan White ranted about the value of student assessment.  That data can be used for so many things, whether they be formative or summative and the goal being to show that play is good for learning.  The problem is that cognition is complex.  That the data culled from educational games is too often dumbed down  to just be an assessment.  A myopic approach such as this does a disservice to how gaming can be helping education and learning beyond just a grade.

Idit Harel Caperton was moderating the whole panel and her turn was a discussion with the other three panelists.  The focus was on what it was to create a “Game-4-Changer” who was conscious of the issues raised by the panelists as well as about creating games that can affect change in general.  I could not begin to transcribe the back and forth.

Here is a link to the YouTube archive of the “whole festival” but unfortunately this particular panel isn’t singled out.

But the Panels that are up that I’ve covered in the previous article are:

And that concludes my coverage of Day One at G4C13.  Two more days of the festival to come.

– Eugene Weber

Eugene Weber

Eugene has been gaming since before he reached double digits. Now he serves as an intrepid reporter as cover for his many nefarious ... I mean, altruistic endeavors. His shirt says he's a hero, so it must be true.

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