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#7677756 Apr 15, 2013 at 08:33 AM · Edited over 6 years ago
Guild Officer
354 Posts
Please watch how Brenda decided to design the game. Brenda Brathwaite: Gaming for understanding

What difficult topic could you design a game around? What about the material she used.
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#7678035 Apr 15, 2013 at 09:46 AM
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35 Posts
Racism would also be a suitable topic for a Latin classroom. Isaac's book, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity is quite amazing (and applicable to modern research as well), and students see themselves in the writing. Juvenal has quite a bit to say, and is a good example of Xenophobic attitudes that have crept up upon our nation...particularly anyone in the fringe states.

Although I would prefer it, I am not yet established in my career (it technically has not begun) to tactfully create a game about Roman Sexuality. I mentioned to students that Hollywood's Troy portrayed Patroclus as Achilles' cousin, but that Warner Bros was not ready in 2004 to refer to him as Achilles' lover (it's right there in the Greek). There were disturbing reactions/comments from what I presumed was an open-minded student body. To think how their parents might have reacted...

The importance of learning about that topic would create more awareness and ultimately a safer environment for students within the school, but I am not so naive to think that such a message would/could not be twisted by anyone working out their own issues living in present day society (by this, I mean that homosexuality is a historic inevitability...you have the right to believe in whatever you want, but must come to terms with the changing, or in respect to antiquity, the customs and practices that have been there all along, however clandestine at times). Creating a safe environment in one's classroom is one thing, but to teach controversial topics is quite another. I would tread carefully if able to design a game around this. Racism is a safer card to play, especially at a high school, and just as important a social issue that creates connection to modern times.
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#7680790 Apr 15, 2013 at 06:09 PM
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@MagisterP I am bouncing my ideas of of yours. I think I could create a game that was involving illegal immigration. I live in the SouthWest (Colorado) and my students do study race and ethnicity in the Cultural Anthropology class. I also teach Introduction to Chicano/a Studies. This would fit with my Cultural Anthropology class better. If I could create a game that let my students know of the difficulties that an illegal immigrant faces as well as the internal politics and economy of Mexico that fuels the immigration on a personal level [One of our documentaries we see goes to a town in Mexico where 50% of the male population is at work in the United States.] they would have a better understanding of the issue. If I could work something like John Hunter did with The Peace Game I could assign roles to my students, example: ICE, Border Patrol, immigrant, emigrant, local police, employer, school board... it might work.
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#7681858 Apr 16, 2013 at 12:03 AM
Herald
32 Posts
I really loved this video and I just wrote a Storify story somewhat in response. I know I am preaching to the choir here, but when I write these stories, I try to share them to my larger PLN. In answer to the question in this forum, though, there are two potentially related "difficult" issues that I would like to approach in a gameful way (just to start).

In Canada (as in the US), there is a history of complicated relations with the Aboriginal people of the land. I am excited and interested in seeing the development of the Idle No More movement as it has developed this year, but I would really like to be able to demonstrate how the issue in Canada (though it was taken up by other indigenous groups around the world) is not just an "Indian" issue but rather an issue that affects ALL Canadians! (due to a government that is, pound for pound, more powerful in its territory than the US federal executive is in its own.) I would like to create a game to this effect. And trust me...it is complicated!

The second issue is something that I came into this MOOC term wanting to address with an ARG. I need to reach out to the brilliant people here somehow. I have an idea for a mobile game that would somehow promote the activities of charity and kindness in urban centres (often these activities are much more tangibly practiced in rural settings since everyone knows everyone else anyway). I have a name and a general idea but I kind of don't know where to start. Bottom line, this game is sort of a "random acts of kindness" app that is focused on paying attention to those things like poverty and destitution that are often overlooked but which impact all of us.

I'd be willing to talk more about these things if people are interested.

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#7683625 Apr 16, 2013 at 10:25 AM
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@badbuddha0 The site Idle No More is certainly a grassroots (as we would call it in the USA) movement, I am impressed with what they have done with no government funding. I am not sure how many indigenous tribes there are in Canada, I do know that there are some borderland ones like the Blackfoot tribe. Clay Plume is a CHL Hockey defenseman from from Standoff, Alberta with Blackfoot tribal connections. In the USA we have over 450, think the number is nearer 500, recognized tribes. (US Government recognition) and many that are not recognized. It is difficult to have pan-Indianism in the USA. Is it more coordinated in Canada? I could probably do a game regarding the American Indian Movement (AIM) that were part of the standoff at Wounded Knee in 1973, that should be controversial. Perhaps in a Cultural Anthropology or Indians of North America class. Wikipedia on AIM and here is their official site American Indian Movement If you look at the site, you will see on the left a "AIM on Ward Churchill and Wantabes" Ward Churchill was fired from the University of Colorado [just lost his Supreme Court of the United States appeal] and part of the controversy was him pushing a non-provable Indian heritage. I have a friend authoring a book that will be out soon on that controversy. I personally know Ward Churchill. Do you think this would be something that could be handled at a college level? I am not sure it could be at a K-12 but John Hunter dealt with bigger issues than that Certainly it could be on the topic of "What is American Indian Identity and How and Why is it Important." It certainly is needed for tribal benefits. 1005 Dawes Act allowed each tribe to set their own criteria. For example, Cherokee is direct descent from "Trail of Tears Tribal Rolls" and the Salish-Kutani and navajo (Dene') require 1/4 blood quanta. Even the way tribes decide who is a member could be part of this. There is also Federal reasons to want to be recognized. . . health services, education, etc.
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#7685428 Apr 16, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Initiate
108 Posts
The situation with Canada's First Nations and Metis people is from my understanding VERY different from what exists in the United States. The Idle No More movement is interesting and has produced a lot of controversy, at least in western Canada.

I think games like Darfur is Dying or Get Water on the iPad are good examples of games that deal with difficult topics. Free Rice (www.freerice.com), while not really a game, is also interesting.
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#7689193 Apr 17, 2013 at 09:59 AM
Guild Officer
187 Posts
Your post on Storify brings up a good point about being careful how we use these tools. It's a similar ethics discussion with how we use software to manipulate images (and thus peoples' perception).

There are a few topics that I would consider difficult to integrate into gameplay. "Doing good" is difficult, but consider how McGonigal's 2010 ARG "Evoke" did it:

http://www.urgentevoke.com/page/how-to-play

She had some amazing artwork created for the game. It seems largely driven by recognition (via upvotes, a leaderboard, and mention on a public forum) rather than points, badges, etc...

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#7689360 Apr 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM
Herald
60 Posts
I always feel a little discomfort when my son plays a game like Call of Duty: World at War. He loves it because of the historical accuracy (he's a huge, huge military history buff, especially when it comes to WWII), but that's also one thing that makes me uncomfortable. It's the same feeling I get when we go to Civil War re-enactments; I know the main goal is to pay homage to the men who fought and died in the war and to make sure the history of that war is preserved, but I always think about the men who really did fight in whatever battle is being re-enacted and how this "play" version can in no way capture their fear and agony and bravery; and, unlike the re-enactors, they did not stand up and shake hands at the end of the battle.

Addressing the Vietnam War via IF is not something I take lightly and I don't want the students to do so either (this is entirely possible considering how many of them probably play war-based FPS's). So, I do plan to talk to them about being respectful and remembering that this was a real war with real people sacrificing their lives. The video of John Hunter explaining his World Peace game really inspired me because his students are dealing with very serious issues and, rather than diminishing or "gamifying" these issues, his game inspires his students to take them very seriously and to understand their magnitude in ways that most adults I've spoken with about these same issues don't.
a.k.a. Tanya Sasser
English Instructor
Jacksonville State University
@TanyaSasser
Remixing College English
“I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one who must walk through it.” ~Morpheus, The Matrix
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#7691503 Apr 17, 2013 at 05:38 PM
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I have posted under the Journal section where BadBuddha0, has a new entry, I have done a reply, it does discuss what I think is a difficult topic for gameplay, that is the killing of Albino Africans for their body parts for use in witchcraft ceremonies, [links are in the journal] their bodies are thought to have power. I just don't see a way of making a game of this, it is almost easier to make a game of the discovery of 54 beheaded skeletons in an ancient burial ground in England, and they were all killed from the front and stripped naked first, than to talk about current day events where you see the 28 year old woman with no arms. They were cut off and she lived. She was pregnant at the time of the attack, she lost the baby. Individual whom we can see through video in real time to be suffering the effects of discrimination, genocide, etc., are more difficult to deal with, in my opinion, than historic atrocities.

How they researched who these skeletons belonged to, where they came from, why they were killed, why were they stripped, why three skulls are missing, why killed from the front, why no battle wounds, would make a good Interactive Fiction game. They had to really search for clues [url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-16708401]54 decapitated skeletons.

I definitely think there is a game here and although grusome in its premise, since it is so far in the past, I think it is fair game and I would even see it being used in K-12 Absolutely fascinating as to the way they reached the conclusion, it is deduction, history, science and looking at old texts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaC1V5WQ4i8
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#7691538 Apr 17, 2013 at 05:47 PM
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561 Posts
#7685428 missrithenay wrote:


I think games like Darfur is Dying or Get Water on the iPad are good examples of games that deal with difficult topics. Free Rice (www.freerice.com), while not really a game, is also interesting.



My students in my Cultural Anthropology Classes played Darfur is Dying Play Darfur is Dying (college) and then saw the film, The Devil Came on Horseback http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BJOfpJ8qVE

Their comments, they played the game first, then saw film, was that they really didn't understand why you would send kids for water, but after the film they would. Most were unsuccessful getting water, but the "gamers" in the classroom only took a few tries to get water and get to the village.

They also commented, that FIVE minutes was enough to play the game (we gave them 15) and that it should be five minutes at the beginning and at the end of class, so they could see the game through experience of the film.
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#7691864 Apr 17, 2013 at 06:54 PM
Guild Officer
187 Posts
#7689360 Mina ZedWord wrote:

...but I always think about the men who really did fight in whatever battle is being re-enacted and how this "play" version can in no way capture their fear and agony and bravery; and, unlike the re-enactors, they did not stand up and shake hands at the end of the battle.

Addressing the Vietnam War via IF is not something I take lightly and I don't want the students to do so either (this is entirely possible considering how many of them probably play war-based FPS's). So, I do plan to talk to them about being respectful and remembering that this was a real war with real people sacrificing their lives. The video of John Hunter explaining his World Peace game really inspired me because his students are dealing with very serious issues and, rather than diminishing or "gamifying" these issues, his game inspires his students to take them very seriously and to understand their magnitude in ways that most adults I've spoken with about these same issues don't.



Interestingly, this brought me back to the video by Brenda Braithwaite where she used a game to bring home to her little girl some of the atrocities that happened in the Middle Passage. I felt bad for the little girl.

As with creating in any medium, when we create we have some responsibility for how it impacts the viewer. I do think there are some topics that are too difficult to deal with as a game, simply because to make it a game would appear to belittle the topic. Games, images, sounds, and so on can all be used to create feelings and help understanding. It's up to us to be able to use them responsibly.
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#7692733 Apr 17, 2013 at 11:39 PM
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111 Posts
I think perhaps another important factor is the target "audience" - that is, who are you trying to teach? I imagine one "difficult topic" may not be appropriate for, say, K-12, whereas a more mature audience may be able to learn from the game while still maintaining the due respect for the topic. Thoughts?
Here's to all the educated people who don't hate games!
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#7694973 Apr 18, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Herald
60 Posts
#7691503 grasshopper98 wrote:



How they researched who these skeletons belonged to, where they came from, why they were killed, why were they stripped, why three skulls are missing, why killed from the front, why no battle wounds, would make a good Interactive Fiction game. They had to really search for clues [url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-16708401]54 decapitated skeletons.

I definitely think there is a game here and although grusome in its premise, since it is so far in the past, I think it is fair game and I would even see it being used in K-12 Absolutely fascinating as to the way they reached the conclusion, it is deduction, history, science and looking at old texts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kaC1V5WQ4i8



OK, I would totally play this! I'm a huge history nut (and I did some grad. work in anthropology for a while), especially when it comes to weird stuff like this (I followed the discovery of Richard III's remains like most people follow their favorite sports team).

I'd love to do something similar with the New England vampire skeletons. It would work well with American literature because I think it would help students better understand how normal it was for people to believe in the supernatural.
a.k.a. Tanya Sasser
English Instructor
Jacksonville State University
@TanyaSasser
Remixing College English
“I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one who must walk through it.” ~Morpheus, The Matrix
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#7695126 Apr 18, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Initiate
108 Posts
Hawkye, I think that's definitely true and applies to anything we teach, including games.

Their comments, they played the game first, then saw film, was that they really didn't understand why you would send kids for water, but after the film they would. Most were unsuccessful getting water, but the "gamers" in the classroom only took a few tries to get water and get to the village.

This is very interesting. How graphic is this film? What age would you say it's appropriate for?
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#7695716 Apr 18, 2013 at 01:45 PM
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561 Posts
#7689360 Mina ZedWord wrote:

I
Addressing the Vietnam War via IF is not something I take lightly and I don't want the students to do so either (this is entirely possible considering how many of them probably play war-based FPS's). So, I do plan to talk to them about being respectful and remembering that this was a real war with real people sacrificing their lives. The video of John Hunter explaining his World Peace game really inspired me because his students are dealing with very serious issues and, rather than diminishing or "gamifying" these issues, his game inspires his students to take them very seriously and to understand their magnitude in ways that most adults I've spoken with about these same issues don't.



I agree with you that these difficult topics really require a sensitivity on the part of the instructor and an understanding of the intended audience. What is acceptable for say, college students, may not be able to be made acceptable for third graders.

I have to admit that i am very sensitive as to what I show my students, and today choosing a graphic for the end of a news item in the class online shell. I have one I actually PAID for ;) that is a finish line with one "Sorry" game token already across and a batch of about 15 tokens on the other side. I liked it because of the big word "FINISH" along the line and that I am there waiting for them to join me, that we are a group and move as a group. Today, I decided not to use it because of the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It just hit me as "not a good idea" I used a nice group of images holding hands an looking up from a circle.

I talked to my college class about my change of graphics and they said they wouldn't have made the connection, at least the vocal ones. I still think I made the correct choice to replace it. What do you think?

Was I overly sensitive? When is sensitivity too much? When do we out-think ourselves? When do we underestimate the understanding of our class or our audience? It all goes back to Message Design, who are our intended audience and what exactly do we want them to know, learn and remember?
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#7695744 Apr 18, 2013 at 01:51 PM · Edited over 6 years ago
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561 Posts
#7694973 Mina ZedWord wrote:

[quote_post7691503 user=768203]

I'd love to do something similar with the New England vampire skeletons. It would work well with American literature because I think it would help students better understand how normal it was for people to believe in the supernatural.



What New England Vampire Skeletons? Inquiring minds want to know? LOL

I also could do something with the Witch trials in New Mexico. The only other official and documented witch trials in the USA. Great Book Witches of Abiqui
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#7698049 Apr 18, 2013 at 10:25 PM
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111 Posts
Personally, I probably would not have associated the Sorry board with the Boston Marathon incident. I'm not really overly sensitive about such things, but it sounds like a lot of other people felt the same way.
Here's to all the educated people who don't hate games!
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#7699715 Apr 19, 2013 at 09:31 AM
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20 Posts
Wow, these are some really deep ideas that I don't know if I could tackle in our homeschool. I have been thinking of things that my students ask about, things that we've seen on the news, and ideas and attitudes I want them to have as they grow up.

So here are some ideas that I have:
1. Living at the poverty level - you receive a "pay check" each week that is equivalent to minimum wage and you must "live" on it by paying rent, purchasing food, paying utilities, paying debt, paying for transportation, etc. This not only gives a better understanding of budgeting but also a deeper look at what it means to be "poor" in the States.

2. The Art of Being Manly - Okay, so I have boys :) and I want them to become well rounded functioning members of society. So what does it mean to be a "man" today in our society? We would probably look at culture, history, religion. This one is more nebulous but something I think would be interesting.

Anyway, those are some ideas that I have. Not sure if they are difficult in the sense that you all have posted but, for us, these topics touch on things we've discussed or thought about at some time.

~Taselian
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#7700993 Apr 19, 2013 at 02:04 PM
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#7699715 Taselian wrote:

Wow, these are some really deep ideas that I don't know if I could tackle in our homeschool. I have been thinking of things that my students ask about, things that we've seen on the news, and ideas and attitudes I want them to have as they grow up.

So here are some ideas that I have:
1. Living at the poverty level - you receive a "pay check" each week that is equivalent to minimum wage and you must "live" on it by paying rent, purchasing food, paying utilities, paying debt, paying for transportation, etc. This not only gives a better understanding of budgeting but also a deeper look at what it means to be "poor" in the States.

~Taselian



Yes, I am only responding to this #1 and it looks like a very good idea. Depending on the age of the children you could use that "5 pound bag of sugar or flower, project" where they have to think of it as a baby and care for it all the time and never leave it alone. Schedules for feeding, changing, etc. Flour Sack Baby Project This was for 11th graders. I do like the budget idea or even taking what is allocated for a social service payment for food and see if they can create menus the family can eat all week and stay under budget. Welfare Food Budget Project It is like $29.++ a week. No Starbucks in that budget. This could also be a "family project if you could find out the food budget for the number of members in your family and try to do it for a week. I think that people were allowed to use spices, or sugar, or other commodities they had around the house, but had to extrapolate how much what they used cost and figure that into the budget.

Just on paper for a budget isn't as focused as actually touching real food or holding that bag of flour.

I know when I "home schooled my granddaughter," it was basically "grandma's pre-school, or kindergarden or summer camp." :) She got interested in Vikings for some reason, so I read her a story about Vikings, we went to a Museum exhibit on Vikings, [it just happened to be in town] and she did all the exercises they had for children. They had a video that we watched too. Then we went to a friend's house who is a professional armorer (make swords, and stage weapons/armor, etc.) and he showed her what they might have had, he then showed her how to make chain mail and she made herself a necklace of chain mail with a little leather tie. She also learned about runes and we got some to use. I think she was about nine. Guess I augmented her reality.

My suggestion is to find something they might just have a glimmer of interest in and then figure out how to expand it. That is basically enticing them to go down the rabbit hole to explore. We will be talking about rabbit holes next week. Stay tuned :)

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#7704323 Apr 20, 2013 at 10:28 AM
Artisan
58 Posts
Love the idea of a game around poverty and living paycheck to paycheck. I was thinking along the lines also of something to do with inequality in education/ income also which is a big prevalent issue here in RI. Our very small state has a lot of issues around this with our having such poor public schools and affluent Ivy League private schools and colleges here right next door to each other. And also the income ranges of people that may live not at all far from each other. For example Brown University and Moses Brown schools and the affluent Elmhurst and neighborhoods are side by side with some Providence public schools and certain project housing units are less than a mile apart. The issue of the haves and have nots is really right in your face here. But it would definently need to be covered in a sensitive and broad way.
To each his own game ;)
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