Assignment Ideas: Games

In a global economy, any nation interested in maintaining or even increasing its competitive advantage needs to think about innovation—and about how to prepare its young people for life in the digital age. We all need to learn from and about games (David Williamson Shaffer, How Computer Games Help Children Learn)

Digital games may be employed in classrooms across university disciplines to great success. When games are introduced into the classroom, or when the entire course is itself “gamified,” the lines separating work and play are challenged. Because games in the classroom show how work and play are not mutually exclusive categories, students are more likely to become self-motivated in pursuit of course goals. Successful completion of games, such as the ones listed below, requires students master the following skills: invention, planning, drafting, problem solving, close textual analysis, collaboration, recursive writing, and audience awareness. Classroom gaming also breaks down potential barriers that may seem to exist between skill sets. That is to say that the skill set required by the writing task, and the skill set required by the digital tool are seamlessly integrated.

World without Oil. The world without oil project is a serious, alternate reality game that “imagines what an oil crisis would really be like” through crowd sourced blogs, videos, and images generated by participants. Though the game has ended, the site preserves the 1500 plus digital imaginings of participants. World without Oil has provided a template for other multimodal classrooms such as Remixing College English, Composition+Video Games, and GCO offer further suggestions for incorporating game design in the college classroom.

Play the Past. This site provides an array of assignment ideas. Further, this general link to Rebecca Mir’s post shows ways faculty may use toys to teach about play in history.

"What's Wrong with Essays" Mark Sample’ great post includes a description of an assignment to create an abstract visualization of video games. You will also find Sample's final game design project, as well as a companion blog post that lists six design principles worth noting.

Of Carrots and No Sticks. The authors of this site provide an array of examples for faculty looking to adapt gaming into their courses. The site also provides a detailed account of how students may acquire digital skills through classroom gaming.

Board games to teach history. On this site Jermey S. Antley details the “intersections of historical inquiry and gaming.” The site also provides an archive of Antley’s research and links to historically themed gaming sites.

Further Reading

Jane McGonigal. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.

Ian Bogost. How to Do Things with Videogames.

Bogost, a leading scholar of videogames and an award-winning game designer, explores the many ways computer games are used today: documenting important historical and cultural events; educating both children and adults; promoting commercial products; and serving as platforms for art, pornography, exercise, relaxation, pranks, and politics. Examining these applications in a series of short, inviting, and provocative essays, he argues that together they make the medium broader, richer, and more relevant to a wider audience.
Kurt Squire. Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in the Digital Age.