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More Than a Game: One Teacher's Journey into Video Games

More Than a Game: One Teacher's Journey into Video Games

Written by Kevin Hodgson
July 22, 2011

For the past year, I have been thinking about gaming, and what possibilities gaming might bring to my sixth grade classroom. A session at the NWP Annual Meeting piqued my interest, but I wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge. Partly, this reticence was because I am not a Gamer. Sure, I played video games when I was a kid — I remember Atari and Sega and other console games and I certainly lost enough quarters in arcades to start a college fund. But the world of gaming has mostly passed me by in recent years.

But not my students. They game all the time. Particularly the boys.

So, the question I had was, how can I find a way to bringing gaming into a learning environment without completely ruining the experience for students? Part of my inquiry was inspired by Chad Sansing’s work around gaming as an educational opportunity. His resource here at Digital is entitled Imagining the Games-based Classroom was inspiring to me and Chad’s sharing of his work gave me that nudge I was looking for.

I decided that the best way to begin was for me to offer a summer camp program around Game Design. Luckily, our Western Massachusetts Writing Project has had a long-standing partnership with a local vocational high school for summer camp programs, and they were open to a gaming session.

The camp quickly filled up (and was a success. For more information about the Game Design Camp, please see the separate resource created around that program).

I found a teaching partner from our WMWP site — Tina Browne, herself a gaming novice who was interested in the world of gaming — and we began planning some activities. I realized rather quickly that I had better immerse myself in gaming if we were to engage these campers in the work and activities that we have planned. As part of my reflection practice, I decided I would try to document my own journey through video reflections.

This is a resource that will no doubt continue to expand as I move forward with working with students around game design and narrative structure. While we are mostly using Gamestar Mechanic for the construction of games, I realize that immersive gaming, massive multiplayer online games, and mobile gaming are all areas that I barely touch upon here in this resource.

I still have a few lives left …

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