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Thursday, July 9 • 4:00pm - 5:00pm
Agency & Control

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Play-making: Games and the Quest for Agency
Bob Coulter

This paper argues that game play and the design of games offers a window into youth agency (defined as the use of competence, strategy, and awareness). Analysis of game experiences in light of classical (Aristotelian) and progressive (Deweyan) learning goals illuminates design principles that support the development of agency in contexts beyond games. A key factor is the role of making that occurs within games but is often absent in other learning environments. A 3-part model articulates aspects of making that occur within game spaces: (1) creation of original games or modifications of existing games, (2) construction of transient artifacts used within game play, and (3) development, application, and modification of tacit mini-theories which guide play. Each of these ‘making’ processes allows kids to exercise agency, and thus be active participants in the game space — an identity well worth nurturing other parts of kids’ lives.

Customization and Perceived Choice in an Extended MMO Study
Selen Turkay

As famous game designer Sid Meier said, a game is a series of interesting choices (Rollings & Morris 2000, p. 38). Understanding the role and effect of choices, is critical to effective game design and, quite likely, to learning. With this in mind, the overarching question asked was: Do the effects of customization, defined as a series of choices, change players’ experiences over time? A mixed method study was designed with two conditions: customization (n=33) and no customization (n=33). Adult participants played Lord of the Rings Online (Lotro), a Massively Multiplayer Online game (MMO), for about ten hours over four sessions. Data was collected through surveys, interviews and observations and analyzed. Results showed that all players thought they had more choices over the first three sessions. Participants’ perceived choice was significantly positively correlated with their sense of control in each session.

Playing to Survive, Surviving to Play: The Role of Games in Dystopian Young Adult Literature
Don Latham, Jonathan Hollister

Dystopian young adult literature has become wildly popular over the past decade, and, interestingly, many of these novels employ games and gaming elements as major plot devices. Analysis of these books reveals a close connection between play and power. Using Trites’ analysis of power relations in young adult literature and Rigby and Ryan’s characteristics of engaging games as frameworks, we show that in four recent dystopian novels both protagonists and readers (albeit vicariously) build competency, exert autonomy, and relate to others as they learn to beat the game and negotiate the power dynamics of the dystopian systems they are in, whether real or virtual.

avatar for Gay Ivey

Gay Ivey

Gay Ivey is the Tashia F. Morgridge Professor of Reading Education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

avatar for Bob Coulter

Bob Coulter

Director, Liztsinger Road Ecology Center
I spend most of my time thinking about ways to get kids excited about learning and taking action in the community. A good part of this involves games they design with MIT's Taleblazer and StarLogo Nova tools, or in playing Equations, a really cool math game.
avatar for Jonathan Hollister

Jonathan Hollister

Doctoral Candidate, Florida State University
avatar for Don Latham

Don Latham

Professor, Florida State University, School of Information
Information literacy, digital literacies, youth services, young adult literature
avatar for Selen Turkay

Selen Turkay

Harvard University

Thursday July 9, 2015 4:00pm - 5:00pm CDT
Inn Wisconsin

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