“How Do They Win"? Collaborative Game Creation as Impetus for Class Discussion and Research
How do they win? A seemingly simple question, but one that cuts directly to the issues of purpose, risk, and success: the key elements of both good teaching and game design. In terms of teaching, what do we want students to know, how do we teach it, and what is the measure for assessing learning outcomes? In terms of creating games, what do you want the players to learn, how do you create a game to convey it, and what are the conditions for winning? The similarities are stunning. With games designed to teach, the creator learns much more in developing the game than those playing it do, because like teaching, you need expertise. So why not make the students the creators and let them learn more…let them win. Game mechanisms and processes lead intrinsically to issues of direct and collateral consequences, control vs. unpredictability, goals and obstacles. They also demand that certain questions be answered. Because of this, creating a game generates its own discussion topics and is adaptable to teaching many disciplines. This presentation will cover the remarkable experience of having a class collaborate on creating a game, using it as a means of motivation, guidance for research questions, and assessment (eliminating quizzes and tests). We will describe our process of developing this model to improve how students conduct research, utilize library resources, and, most importantly, engage with the course. Participants will also be provided with a template we developed for integrating game creation into courses.
Russell A. Hall is an Associate Librarian at Penn State Behrend located in Erie, PA. His work focuses on undergraduate information literacy and student engagement. Russell has published on a variety of topics, including embedded librarianship, the traits, and training librarians, and is a longtime board-gamer and video-gamer.
Glenn Kumhera is an Associate Professor of Ancient and Medieval History at Penn State Behrend, and author of The Benefits of Peace: Private Peacemaking in Late Medieval Italy (Brill, 2017). Glenn specializes in exploring social history using legal records, and has created numerous games for his courses.