Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 554.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 08:13:07 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <email@example.com>
Some years ago a bright high school student talked to me about getting a
recommendation for a scholarship. What he had to show was a
dungeons-and-dragons game he had written. The aspect of his work that
particularly interested me was the moral basis of the game. Essentially
what he had done was to project his own situation, as a young man in a
difficult world, into the format of a game. We had a very memorable
conversation about modelling moral strength as if it were some kind of
fuel, I brought up the story of Malcom X and so forth.
What happened to the fellow I have no idea (may he be doing well!), but the
conversation did lead me to think about the use of computer games as
teaching devices -- not just the sugar-coated pill sort of thing, but more
essentially the application of mechanical modelling to moral and
intellectual problems. Of course teaching games have been considered
before, and good work has been done on computer -- e.g. very early, the
brilliant "Would-Be Gentleman", by Carolyn Lougee (now Carolyn Lougee
Chappell), currently chair of History at Stanford,
<http://www.stanford.edu/dept/history/faculty/chappell/>. As I recall
Would-Be Gentleman, however, it did not focus on the modelling, rather
directly on the subject. What I have in mind is the situation in which the
game would raise questions about how we know what we think we know.
Two questions, then:
(1) Can we reach the Sega-generation effectively through games? If so, what
is to be considered?
(2) Who is doing this already and doing it well?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 848 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 848 5081
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