Assignment 3 – Colloquia

The Colloquia entry that I enjoyed the most was Serious Fun and Games at IU by Lee Sheldon (http://disted.informatics.iupui.edu/4088_Lecture/Colloquia/Sheldon.html).

Lee Sheldon is a game designer, book author, and television producer and scriptwriter. He is the author of the mystery novel Impossible Bliss, a non-fiction book Character Development and Storytelling for Games. Sheldon has a bachelor of fine arts degree in stage directing from Boston University, and an MFA in film direction from California Institute of the Arts. During his time as a student at CalArts, he was mentored under Alexander Mackendrick. In addition, he had two pairs of mentors while he was a writer and producer in television — Ron Austin and Jim Buchanan, as well as William Link and Richard Levinson.

This piece interested me the most because some of the work Lee Sheldon is doing is what I’m actually interested in looking into myself. I’ve already read a few articles about his class located in IU Bloomington. This article here (http://hastac.org/blogs/slgrant/fighting-monsters-taking-tests) was probably the most interesting in a classroom perspective. The article focuses on different ways to teach the class and how to engage otherwise non participating students to participate in the classroom with others. He describes how this is a good way to combat social loafing. Some examples of what he used in his Multiplayer Game Design class were that he assigned “guilds” or groups of students located in that area to certain areas of the classroom and were moved to different zones throughout the semester. Another article (http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/at-indiana-u-a-class-on-game-design-has-students-playing-to-win/21981) reads “Class time is spent completing quests (such as presentations of games or research), fighting monsters (taking tests or quizzes), and “crafting” (writing game-analysis papers and a video-game concept document). It may sound a bit nerdy, but hey, who isn’t it for a bit of spicing up compared to a regular lecture or syllabus now and again?

Another interesting concept that Sheldon has included with his different approach in the classroom is the way he grades his students. As an alternative to receiving traditional grades, students earn “experience points” for completing curriculum. Sheldon says that the points system not only feels more like a video game, but also lets students feel like they’re earning points for getting things right instead of losing them for incorrect answers. Again, this may sound a bit nerdy, but this is something that I think gamers and non-gamers alike can appreciate.

Sheldon says he has seen so much of an interest in the way he’s teaching his courses that other professors and colleagues have contacted him in an attempt to ask him help for tweaking an existing course that they are teaching, or starting an whole new course based on these ideas completely. The link for his blog (http://gamingtheclassroom.wordpress.com/) called “Gaming the Classroom” is a collection of information regarding topics on game design and curriculum related to the topic from Sheldon and others.

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