I figure at least some of you young’uns play Zork ironically these days, so I may not need to explain what the hell interactive fiction games are. But back in the day, a lot of our computer games were little more than digital Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels. Yes, days ago in yesteryear, we had to read our games.
Well, one enterprising high-school English teacher is sowing a whole new crop of old-school nerdery, teaching creative writing by having his students create text-based, interactive games. You can see (and play) the students’ games on this thread. Sadly, I tried a few and found no grues, but I appreciate the effort.
School Library Journal has an interesting article on school libraries running Minecraft servers for student clubs. And given the number of people I’ve seen playing Minecraft at the public library with their meager one hour allotment of computer time, I imagine this could easily be ported to public libraries as well.
I’ll fully admit that I’ve been skeptical of the educational merit of computer games on the whole, but Minecraft actually has some neat things going for it, in case you need to persuade a recalcitrant administrator. Just getting one’s head around Redstone Circuits alone provides a basic foundation for logic, electronics, computer programming, and, OMG, Boolean operators.
C’mon, librarians, if you can’t sell the higher ups on Boolean operators, hang up your MLIS, dust off your resumé, and find a new career. Besides, you know, you can make the kids check out some books and shit when they come to use your computers.
Pop culture has been a fringe subject for academic inquiry for decades now, but it’s really exploded in recent years. So it’s not surprising, especially given the medium, to see those sort of courses appearing with some frequency on the big MOOC platforms.
Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative by Vanderbilt’s Jay Clayton looks like a promising example. Starting in July of this year, the course will use the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG as its central example of how stories are transformed across media. Sounds like there’s a bit of Keats and narrative theory thrown in for good measure, but also a bit of hanging about in Bree with dwarves and hobbits and such.
Hopefully, it won’t be like the library school class meeting I once had in Second Life. Only once does a class need to be interrupted by an intoxicated Bronie and his detachable phallus to make you question the usefulness of virtual worlds as an educational platform…