3000 Individual Talk Panel CE: Using Gaming to Promote Empathy and Critical Civic Engagement
12556 Ind Talk CE: Digital Empathy: Designing media production for civic engagement
Organizer: Yonty Friesem
This short talk will introduce digital empathy, a new concept in youth media. During my presentation, I will (1) explain why digital empathy matters; (2) use short clips to showcase how to practice digital empathy; (3) illustrate with students’ artifacts how they enhanced four empathic competencies including civic engagement. By the end of the talk, participants will be familiar with the concept and practice of digital empathy to enhance their students’ civic engagement.
Constantly immersed in convergence culture (Jenkins, 2006), we are connecting to others by consuming and remixing digital media. Ruskoff (2013) describes how our civic responsibility diminishes as we are being forced to digitally engage for commercial purposes. Furthermore, Turkle (2013) encourages us to find opportunities for developing meaningful conversations instead of being digitally connected but civically and emotionally disengaged. At the same time, connected learning (Ito, et al, 2013) demonstrates how students use this constant connectivity to enhance learning via digital media. For these reasons, producing media collaboratively while being civically engaged is becoming a crucial part of the current connected learning process.
Using Kelly’s (2014) Human-Centered Design (HCD) during the media production process, we can enhance four empathic competencies of our students. For our practice and research purposes, we defined empathic competencies (Batson, 2009) through four cognitive and socio-emotional learning constructs: critical analysis, problem solving, collaboration, and civic engagement. Critical analysis is the ability to understand and interpret others’ message. Problem solving is the ability to analyze a situation, suggest alternative narratives, and predict others’ behavior. Collaboration is the ability to work together, negotiate, and compromise. Civic engagement is the ability to look at an issue important for others and addressing it trough the production. All four empathic practices are integrated with the five media production stages (Ohler, 2013): brainstorming, pre-production, production, post-production, and presentation. While our sample of high school at-risk students worked collaboratively on a guided HCD production we were able to identify a positive change in each one of the four empathic competencies (Friesem, 2014).
In the last three years, our instructional and research team have been studying our high school at-risk students’ work. In alignment with Common Core State Standards, we offered month-long college-level media production classes to enhance the students’ cognitive and socio-emotional learning. We found that our use of HCD with group media production process advanced the students’ empathic competencies. Our observations, interviews, and content analysis of the students’ productions showed how they enhanced their ability to critically analyze, problem solve, collaborate, and civically engage with their community.
As we start to explore elementary school students’ practice of digital empathy, we see how urban and rural, gifted and exceptional, younger and older students are enhancing their cognitive and socio-emotional learning via the HCD and group media production process. Our findings call for further exploration of digital empathy with other populations to advance civic engagement of our students as well as their connected learning.
12705 Ind Talk CE: Games 4Chan-ge: Twine as Critical Literacy & Empathy Education (and Anti-Troll Measure)
Organizer: Benjamin Thevenin
This presentation discusses how Twine games might be a means of promoting critical literacy—and more importantly, empathy—in the face of the conflict surrounding Gamer Gate. It involves textual analyses of a number of Twine games that challenge conventions of games, game culture, and existing gender relations, as well as a description of the presenter’s own creation of “Queen Bey and Hermione: Social Justice League Assemble!”–a multi-part Twine game that addresses issues of gender equality within popular culture.
#Gamergate. In the past several months it is has been nearly impossible to scan Twitter or Tumblr or even mainstream news media without hearing about the war being raged on the web between feminists and gamers. At the heart of the conflict is a question of identity—what is a ‘gamer’? And on the front lines of this battle are the real-life dangers of female game designers and critics being harassed, threatened and driven from their homes.
Twine games play an important role in this conflict, and a possible means of addressing it. Zoe Quinn’s Twine game Depression Quest caused the game community to ask some critical questions—how interactive-fiction challenges traditional understandings of video games and how women (as game developers, critics and players) challenge male-dominated ‘gaming’ culture.
Video game scholars have long discussed the opportunity games allow players to inhabit other worlds and experience others’ perspectives. There is a growing community of female Twine-game designers whose work—including popular, impactful games like Depression Quest, Howling Dogs, Queers in Love at the End of the World, and Player 2—seeks to use the special affordances of games for good. Maybe the source of all of this commotion may prove to be its solution—maybe we can kill the trolls with kindness, or at least use the language of games to promote understanding and empathy.
Inspired by these games and others, I created my own series of Twine games following feminist superheroes Queen Bey and Hermione as they assist the Social Justice League (including FemFreq, the Mockingjay, and others) in battling gender inequality in popular culture. I will discuss the series—both its creation and reception—in the context of using Twine games to foster critical literacy and empathy within the game community.
12739 Ind Talk CE: The Resisters: What We Learned From Designing a Social Justice Alternate Reality Game
Organizer: Alexandrina Agloro, Felipe Ferreras
In this short talk, researcher and media artist Alexandrina Agloro and youth co-designer Felipe Ferreras will discuss the process of designing and playing The Resisters, an alternate reality game about social movement history in Providence, Rhode Island. The Resisters was built from physical and digital archival research about local activism of people of color. Using these materials, a participatory design process with young people was utilized to create a three-week immersive transmedia game with an online interface and real world challenges. The game players were college students of color, and local community organizations collaborated to conceptualize the game. As a game, The Resisters is unique because it was designed, played, and features young people of color as main characters. One of the goals of The Resisters was to engage college students off-campus in local issues through play. As a game-based learning process, The Resisters experimented with innovative approaches to twenty-first century community engagement and what it means to work with students, institutions, and community-based organizations.
From the educator/researcher side, Alexandrina will discuss her observations about media-infused informal learning on a college campus, and the challenges and opportunities of working collaboratively with young people, community organizations, and institutions of higher education. As a first-time designer, Felipe will share his experience about learning through design and the limits and possibilities of game design and game play for social justice.
A full account of the game’s unfolding is available on the game’s website: TheResisters.org.
12629 Composing Play: Epic Learning in Literacy Spaces
Organizer: Kim Jaxon
The speaker will share the design of an “epic,” game-based college experience: a quest-driven, adventure game created for incoming freshmen called Early Start: EPIC. The experience was designed to address a (rather awful) mandate taking place in the California State University system called Early Start. The goal of the mandate is to “remediate” incoming freshmen during the summer before arriving on college campuses. Working with upper division writing mentors, we designed a game that uses social media, digital tools, and face to face campus activities as a way to expand definitions of college literacy practices. Data drawn from this game-based design show that the space provides contexts for action as a form of service to larger, shared goals, encourages wholehearted participation, and provides mechanisms for the exchange of expertise.
We adopt Jane McGonigal’s framework of “epic scale” to talk about elements of epic learning in and through the teaching of writing (Reality is Broken, 2011). It may be that no writing course can ever match the intensity of a campus wide tournament of Humans vs. Zombies or the sheer scale of World of Warcraft, but the language helps the mentors and me to think through the uses of game design, paired with social media and writing and writing pedagogy, to encourage students to feel empowered over their learning and literacies. Games, and our use of social media, drew attention to the issues of participation and community that often fail to take root in college classrooms.