half baked game making manifesto

(it needs fleshing out)
  1. Game making is motivating and an excellent introduction to programming
  2. Game making programs now exist which make it easier than it was before
  3. Programming is a HOT (higher order thinking) activity
  4. Programming is hard and perhaps not everyone can do it or would want to do it
  5. Everyone ought to receive an invitation to be taught programming, which they can experience (toe in water), accept or reject
  6. We need good teachers of programming, teachers who understand both programming, learning theory and learners
  7. Teachers of programming need to develop (design, program, refactor, test, publish) their own programs / games. Eat your own dogfood.
  8. It is even better if the programming is linked to significant social justice issues, eg. africaGame
  9. Blogs and wikis ought to be incorporated into the development process to enhance communication and collaboration
  10. Blogs and wikis aren't enough on their own. We need to study and / or develop design and communication tools that represent this whole process and enable it to be better discussed and communicated, eg. UML diagrams, design patterns
  11. Learning theory continues to evolve dynamically, that needs to be integrated into this whole process

Quick elaboration of some points

1. Being "motivating" and an "excellent introduction to programming" are not the same thing. To be an excellent introduction also requires a well designed course or some sort of scaffolding by which the key programming concepts are communicated
2. Game Maker, for example, has an excellent drag and drop interface
3. "higher order thinking" = far too vague, what does that mean?
4. Programming is hard. I've come across a few articles about this lately, in particular one which claims to have a test that can determine who can and who cannot program.
5. Programming is a new form of literacy, having that skill conveys advantages in a world which more than before is "virtual". Why program
6. is a major challenge to the education system as it currently exists, one which it is unlikely to meet. Although it is realistic to summise that not much will change in this direction in the mainstream, it could still be taken up outside the system, as part of enrichment programs for the Gifted and Talented, for instance.
7, 8, 9. Teaching programming
10 and 11. This has been a major focus of my blog in the past few months. MOVE SOME ENTRIES TO THIS WIKI FOR FURTHER WORK.


I have not including game playing in the above. Although I'm persuaded by people like Tony Forster and James Gee that Game playing leads to important and different learning it is still (a) not really my thing, (b) even harder than game making to introduce into Schools

Perhaps what the discussion of game playing does do is highlight the social constructivist nature of game programming. Like game playing, game programming is a highly social activity where the learning is not a solitary activity. Not all the learning is taking place inside the programmers head, it is taking place in the social space between collaborating creators and consumers (Tony Sep 26)

Some critical discussion at the Edna game making forum (Bill Sep 16)

Literacy wars

The literacy wars are hotting up:

Literacy of traditional school: 3 R's plus sit still, listen to the teacher, take notes (broadcast)

Literacy of game play: Play games, solve problems, level up (have fun while you learn what?)

Literacy of computer programming: use logic, functions, conditionals, debugging etc. to solve particular types of problems (higher order thinking?)

Literacy of the two way web: search, blogs, wikis, podcasts, IM etc. (learn to use the universal pipe)

... the concept of literacy keeps changing, it's a moving target, and that when we disagree and argue it might be because we value one literacy over another. And not because that literacy is necessarily "better" but because we grew up with it and are more comfortable with it. All of the above literacies have some value depending on the context. I think our job as teachers is to combine them in creative ways that do engage and not enrage our students.(Bill)

we do need to think criticaly about what is truly a literacy, the use of symbols to carry meaning. I'm happy with mathematics, leet, sms, programming as literacies but not happy with sports literacy if what we mean is familiarity and competence (tony sep26)

maybe that's why James Gee introduces the new term, "semiotic domains" (which initially put me off because of it sounded like hifalutin academic jargon) - mastery of a semiotic domain such as basketball is a form of mastery, may even lead to a career, and is not dogged by the traditional, historical meaning of the word literacy (Bill sep27)

Personally, what I'm currently trying to do in one of my Information Technology classes is to combine the literacy of game programming with the literacy of blogging (students writing in a new, more connected medium) . I think requiring students to write more about their game programming will be good for both their programming and writing skills (Bill)

New literacies will be required for the web2 age. No longer do we laboriously hand craft copperplate letters to be delivered by pony express. The kids are inventing the necessary communication skills as they play online games (sorry back to WoW again) and improving their skills. Watch them as they refine the skills necessary for on line real time collaboration. Watch the way they field multiple data streams, VoIP, chat and heads up display. Try it, its not easy Tony Sep26

comment from Catherine Beavis (Deakin Uni):
"... Lemke talks about the new literacies of the information age as multimedia authoring skills, multimodal critical analysis, cyberspace exploration strategies and cyberspace navigation skills..."