(For more context about the matrix account, click here)
Everything that I looked at for this project was linked to gaming, rhetoric, and composition in some way. Some were a little difficult to link together, but because they two concepts are closely related, they came together in the end. My intention for this matrix account was to try to find solid connections between rhetoric and games—both in game-based pedagogy and interactive media. I knew I wanted to mix concepts that were seen in both gaming and pedagogy, but I didn’t know all the different directions my research would take me.
Through practice and research, I learned that an important aspect of gaming and writing was the ability to make choices. This comes down to the rhetorical concepts of agency, to prepon, and identity. Through pedagogical studies, I learned that most students have been taught that they don’t have choice in the classroom and they need to write what they are told to write (my the threshold concepts also helped frame this idea). On the other hand, gamers have a desire to make their environment or avatar their own with the ability to create characters (avatars) and make choices on appearance and personality through dynamic choices. As instructors, we stress writers to show their voice and keep style in mind, but this isn’t always fostered in a classroom setting.
Steven Acardi says that agency is an “ability, power, or authority” to make choices for yourself and navigate a situation in the manner in which you desire (2). However, through my research, I found that this isn’t always the case. Many posthumanist scholars, such as Carolyn Miller, believe the situation is what gives/denies the individual agency and they can only act within given circumstances. This balance of power and ability needs to be made explicit to the student in order for them to recognize kairotic moments and take control of opportunities when they present themselves.
Making the student aware that they are part of a complex system (Active-Network Theory and ecological rhetorical models) helps the student navigate rhetorical situations and the systems that are in play, whether they be an educations system or constructed virtual world. Once they realize they are not the center of the classroom, nor are they the center of their gaming world, they will understand that many of their actions have rippling effects on their system, and students can take advantage of this knowledge when they are composing. Curriculum writers and game designers sometimes strive for the student/player to identify themselves in their own writing or action, however, many limitations are put in place and barriers are established to exhibit power.
The rhetorical concept of metanoia also opened up some interesting avenues between composition and gaming. Metanoia is easily associated with failure, but it is the ability to analyze the missed opportunity to strategize differently when a similar situation occurs. Gamers are faced with failure all the time, most often after missing an opportunity, such as jumping at the wrong time or bringing the wrong equipment into a battle. When an opportunity shows itself, they must then act. Gamers learn from their failures and are not afraid to try new strategies in order to succeed. However, their planning becomes meticulous when the failure can result in a permanent death of a character (permadeath). Like writers, they are invested in the outcomes of their approach, but some failures are more severe than others. Students are often so concentrated on their final grade that they don’t take the time to experiment and truly find their identity in the classroom or their writing. They see their failures instead of their attempts, successes, or notable efforts.
Many of these concepts that I have research, have all come together in my approach to game-based pedagogy which is using gaming concepts to structure the class curriculum into a game. This project helped me narrow down to the essentials of the composition classroom, moving away from the “gamification” fad that is sweeping classrooms and settling on the more academic, pedagogical game-based classroom. Simply put, with using gaming and rhetorical concepts, the students are able to both learn about writing as well as their writing identity.
Agency, Subjectivity, and connectivity are the important branching concepts of game-based pedagogy. Agency, or the authority to take action, I want to explore the link between player/student in roleplaying games and game-based pedagogy classes. Subjectivity, or an individual’s judgment, can be explored both with kairos, to prepon, and metanoia, as well as choice and identity. Connectivity, through network and ecological theories, in how the player/student interacts within the environment to reach their desired outcomes.
Overall, I want to take the ideas that I researched and create a flexible approach to game-based pedagogy. Without this project, I don’t think I would have dug as deep into some of these concepts, but it definitely helped with my direction.
Matrix Works Cited
Accardi, Steven. “Agency.” Ed. Paul Heilker and Peter Vandenberg. Keywords in Writing Studies. 1st ed. Boulder: Utah State UP, 2015. 1-5. Print.
Bogost, Ian. “Gamification Is Bullshit.” Web log post. Ian Bogost. N.p., 8 Aug. 2011. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
—. “Video Games Are Better Without Characters.” The Atlantic 13 Mar. 2015. The Atlantic. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
—. “Winning Isn’t Everything.” Medium. N.p., 19 Dec. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
—.How to Do Things with Videogames. Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2011. Print.
—.How to Talk about Videogames. Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2015. Print.
—.Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2010. Print.
—.Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism. The MIT Press, 2008. Print.
“College Composition and Communication.” National Council of Teachers of English. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.
Doran, Steven Edward. “Identity.” The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media. Ed. Marie-Laure Ryan, Lori Emerson, and Benjamin J. Robertson. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2014. 266-69. Print.
Fleischer, Cathy. Composing Teacher-Research: A Prosaic History. Albany: State U of New York, 1995. Print.
Gee, James Paul. “Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics: Introduction.” Journal of Education 171.1: 5-17.
Haynes, Cynthia. “Armageddon Army Playing God, God Mode Mods, and the Rhetorical Task of Ludology.” Games and Culture 1.1 (2006): 89–96. gac.sagepub.com. Web.
—. “Writing Offshore: The Disappearing Coastline of Composition Theory.” JAC 23.4 (2003): 667–724. Print.
Holmevik, Jan, and Cynthia Haynes. “Playing to Learn: Clemson’s Gaming Across The Curriculum Initiative.” Clemson University. N.p., 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
“Kairos.” About the Journal. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.
Lunsford, Andrea A. “Writing is Performative.” Ed. Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Elizabeth Wardle. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. 1st ed. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2015. 43-4. Print.
Miller, Carolyn R. “What Can Automation Tell Us about Agency?” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 37.2 (2007): 137-57. JSTOR. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.
Myers, Kelly A. “Changes of Mind and Heart: Navigating Emotion in an Expanded Theory of Kairos.” ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2008. Web.
—.”Metanoia and the Transformation of Opportunity.” Rhetoric Society Quarterly 41.1 (2011): Web. Oct 2015.
Poulakos, John. “Toward a Sophistic Definition of Rhetoric.” Ed. John Louis. Lucaites, Celeste Michelle Condit, and Sally Caudill. Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader. New York: Guilford, 1999. 25-34. Print.
Roozen, Kevin. “Writing is Linked to Identity.” Ed. Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Elizabeth Wardle. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. 1st ed. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2015. 50-2. Print.
Russell, David R. “Writing Mediates Activity.” Ed. Adler-Kassner, Linda, and Elizabeth Wardle. Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. 1st ed. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2015. 26-7. Print.
Wardle, Elizabeth. “Considering What It Means to Teach ‘Composition’ in the Twenty-First Century” College Composition and Communication 65.4 (2014): 659-71. Web.
Young, Morris. “Identity.” Ed. Paul Heilker and Peter Vandenberg. Keywords in Writing Studies. 1st ed. Boulder: Utah State UP, 2015. 88-91. Print.