Understanding of games and learningDuring cycles 4-5 in the Games & Learning course at UC Denver, the way in which I think about games, gaming cultures, and affinity spaces have been transformed. Most of the research conducted during this phase has been on gender issues surrounding gaming culture. Topics about gender in game cultures are interesting to me for several reasons. Firstly, I am a white male who is privileged to be positioned in gaming culture as the dominant “norm.” However I do not identify with dominant white heteronormative culture. None the less, just by being present in some gaming communities, one could assume that I would or could perpetuate sexist or biased notions by being privileged as such. Because of this, it is very important that I do understand these issues. And as an educator, especially in settings where I may be implementing game based learning scenarios, it’s critical to exemplify fairness and equality and understand gender issues that may come to light during game play and gaming community experiences.
Secondly, I teach courses in a program where females make up approximately 95% of the student body. I don’t think this will be the case throughout my career but it certainly matters to me in how I am perceived as being a male instructor to a female dominant class. And how does the influence of the male instructor and perhaps one male student in a classroom of 16 change the dynamic? If I were to implement some GBL in these classrooms, would gender issues arise based on gameplay and subjects in the games? Based on minimal research I would suspect “yes” as it’s fairly easy to assume most games are created by males who are mostly ignorant to gender issues. Thus, likely to perpetuate tropes against women. And would the culture in the classroom assume some things based on the prevalent male culture in gaming media and communities? Like men assuming they would be better prepared to play games than women because of the association with gaming and dominant male culture. Or perhaps some students would be involved in affinity spaces or modding communities. It’s possible they may face some discrimination or biases based on gender identity. It’s especially important to understand these scenarios as they are likely to come to light at some point in time during game based learning situations.
My latest research, as well as cycle 4 readings have helped me explore gender in more detail as can be seen in two blog posts and ongoing annotated discussions via open course texts.
Will Video Games Become "Gender Neutral"?
The Sims 2 and Gender, Not so "Nurturing"
Peer Networking to improve learningThrough both peer play sessions, and social networking, mostly via Twitter and blogging, my understanding of games and learning has been enhanced this term. Although during the phase in the course in which this reflection concerns, I have done less networking via Twitter than before. Instead the focus in networking has been on the affinity space, Unity Community, and supporting sites and blogs. However I have not abandoned Twitter, I still used it to network in different ways with less educational focused individuals, and rather, gamers and game developers. Using the hash tag #gamedev and #unity3d has helped me acquire some followers and helped me introduce myself to indie game developers. Some people have asked me to check out their game and give them some feed back, etc. I’ve also met some friendly bots who have helped broadcast my messages.
I have also reached out to Curtiss Murphy, a moderator for Unity Community (otherwise known as Gigiwoo) “Game Design” forum, via Twitter, Unity Community forums, and his website blog. I have also reached out to some other members of Unity Community. Although so far the discussions have appeared somewhat one sided (no one has directly responded to me) I have learned about community members via their resources and profile pages. I have learnt how Curtiss Murphy in particular is situated in Unity Community as a veteran game designer. He has numerous resources on his website for members interested in learning more about game design. Such as his game design zen podcast and associated blog discussion. Several of Curtiss’s podcasts have helped me learn about game design and in general life issues around the games business. The podcasts also shows how Curtiss is situated as a mentor and game design veteran for Unity Community. This networking, although one sided and observatory, is a big part of understanding game communities and affinity spaces.Feels good to be retweeted even if it's mostly bots. I guess I can live with that. #ilt5320 #gamedev— Kirk Lunsford (@KirkLunsford) April 6, 2016
There are three blog posts associated with ongoing developments with the affinity space project for the course:
My Affinity With Unity 3D
Situated Learning As a Member of Unity Community
Is Unity Community a Nurturing Affinity Space?