The Games and Learning SIG Network Meeting

Well Christmas is approaching meaning that I will soon be dusting off my polite but clear you’ll-push-me-to-violence Grinch act when someone asks me if I want to a board/ fun/ party game instead of drinking and eating more.  I’m not a huge fan of play or games. One day we non-ludic people will emerge from the shadows and be greeted with the respect we deserve, and not being chided with deeply insensitive taunts such as, ‘Oh come on, don’t be boring play charades…’  So, I’m a little confused how I’ve ended up researching games… but I seem to be.

Last week Nic Whitton and I travelled to Portsmouth University for the meeting of the Games and Learning SIG.  In the morning we visited the excellent Mary Rose museum to meet a curator whom asked us to explore the museum and develop ideas for games to bring the artefacts and history to life.  The museum doesn’t have a huge budget for developing games and wanted the games that are developed to be ‘timeless’ and so not in need of constant updating but also to fit within the constraints of the building and flow of the building.  Keep them interested but keep them moving on, was high on the priorities.  Watch this space for what we came up with…

BZr5fImIAAADOFsThere was a ‘show and tell’ workshop, the next morning, where members could demonstrate their latest game incarnations… and I started to become ever so slightly taken with the potential of games in learning.  The reason for this was Alex Moseley (University of Leicester) and Simon Brookes’ (University of Portsmouth) Porthampton University scenario (read a blog post about it here).  With fairly minimal explanation a group of seven of us found ourselves in the scenario where we were members of staff at the Porthampton University geography department.  Our students had flown to Portswana in South Sudesia and when they arrived at the airport they were separated, a student was mugged and reports of civil unrest developed were confirmed and we were faced with the task of resolving the situation.  What was so great about the activity was that we didn’t know what we were meant to do but gradually we tracked down websites for a council, a local paper, an embassy, various Twitter accounts that kept the story moving along, and finally we had to deal with phone calls from irate parents and confused project staff.  I started off embarrassed and incredulous but ended up immersed.  Simon uses a similar format for the students on his enterprise module where they have to manage a business in the imaginary world of Porthampton (read about it here).  A group have used Porthampton to host a music festival and Simon is open to others using the space and sites to develop their own projects.  If the Conservatives win an outright majority in 2015 I may start up an expat community there.

James Duggan

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