Before I came to The Strong, I taught writing and literature courses at the Rochester Institute of Technology and elsewhere, which fits right in with writing electronic games blogs. As video games occupy more and more of our playtime, it is not surprising that some educators are finding opportunities to use gaming to teach writing and critical reading skills. Here are three examples I find particularly interesting:
I have wanderlust. In college, I found like-minded companions in Dean and Sal from Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. In one passage, Sal recognized why he felt compelled to travel and explained that he had “no place he could stay in without getting tired of it and because there was nowhere to go but everywhere, rolling under the stars.” I still relate to his sentiments; however, my lifestyle does not always permit sporadic adventures. Now when I feel the need to hit the open road, I turn to video games for adventure and exploration.
In the past, many considered mind-wandering a tool used to procrastinate; however, psychologists and neuroscientists today agree it is a vital cognitive tool. Psychologist Jonathan Schooler explained that allowing the mind to wander provides opportunities to explore additional possibilities and often leads to “bursts of creative insight.” This caused me to think about how daydreaming impacts both the process of creating video games and the way individuals experience game play.
Since the 17th century, individuals have discussed the possibility of extraterrestrial beings. What is the possibility of extraterrestrial life? “Guaranteed,” Harvard physicist and search for extraterrestrial intelligent life leader Paul Horowitz declared in a 1996 interview with Time Magazine. It is “so overwhelmingly likely that I’d give you almost any odds you’d like,” he said. Not everyone shares Horowitz’s confidence, but most people still delight in films, books, TV, and educational programming about the subject.
Designer Robert Morris once said that “simplicity of form is not necessarily simplicity of experience.” I found this especially pertinent to the simple, yet stunning game play of both PixelJunk Eden and NightSky.
Modern Americans are constantly bombarded with choices—local markets sell up to 25 different brands of water, media sources overload us with reports from the campaign trail, and college freshman opening a course catalog can be overwhelmed with options. Some people believe that choice rationally reflects desires, traits, and situations, and if we’re grounded in our beliefs and values, then making a decision should prove relatively easy.
PBS recently launched the Idea Channel, a bi-weekly series that examines the evolving relationship between modern technology and art. In the episode “Super Mario Brothers as Surrealist Art?”, host Mike Rungetta advocated for the game’s place in the canon of great surrealists.
Simon and Schuster published the first Little Golden Books in 1942. Filled with colorful illustrations and appealing tales, these inexpensive picture books hooked kids across America. Thanks to my cousin’s hand-me-downs, my childhood library contained a copy of the series’ Little Red Riding Hood.