Games and Learning/Topics/Games Theory/TO

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Frasca, G. (2004), Videogames of the oppressed: Critical thinking, education, tolerance, and other trivial issues, in Noah Wardrip-Fruin & Pat Harrigan, ed., , MIT Press, Boston, pp. 85-94. / (with comments by Mizuko Ito and Eric Zimmerman)

Is it possible to design videogames that deal with social and political issues? Could videogames be used as a tool for encouraging critical thinking? Do videogames offer an alternative way of understanding reality? Although videogames are now about three decades old, these questions remain unanswered. It seems that even if the medium has reached incredible popularity, it is still far away from becoming a mature communication form that could deal with such things as human relationships, or political and social issues. Or maybe it can never become such thing. After all, as many may say, these are simply games and games have been considered trivial entertainment for ages. Nevertheless, I claim that videogames could indeed deal with human relationships and social issues, while encouraging critical thinking. In this essay, I explore the possibilities of non-Aristotelian game design, mainly based on the work of drama theorist Augusto Boal.

Cavallo, A. C. M. (2008), 'Virtual Forum Theater: Creating and sharing drama to resolve conflicts', PhD thesis, TUFTS UNIVERSITY. pages 12-42, 64-84, 187-?

Virtual Forum Theater VFT is a computer-based learning experience that allows faceto-face, computer, and multimedia-based drama. VFT has three parts: VFT the toolset, VFT the creative activity, and VFT the performance. The VFT toolset is a multimedia tool for the creation of dramatic plays using audio, and images that enables participatory and collaborative digital playmaking through the Internet. The VFT activity or process is the collaborative process of creating a digital play, and consists of much more than the VFT toolset, including dramatic exercises involving group bonding, social awareness and Improv skills. A VFT performance refers to the activity of watching and responding to a previously created digital play. In practice, the distinctions between these parts of VFT become blurred; many times a performance becomes a creative activity. In this thesis, VFT refers to the sum total of all of these aspects, including computer tools, group activity to create a digital play, and digital performance with accompanying group discussion.

Additional Reading

Frasca, G. (2001), 'Videogames of the oppressed: Videogames as a means for critical thinking and debate', PhD thesis, Georgia Institute of Technology.

This thesis examines the potential of videogames as a medium for fostering critical thinking and discussion about social and personal problems. This analysis focuses on simulation as a representational form, which unlike others such as narrative, creates models that not only display the characteristics of the source system, but also reproduce its behavior by means of a set of rules. Therefore, videogames have the potential to represent reality not as a collection of images or texts, but as a dynamic system that can evolve and change. After studying how the process of interpretation functions in simulations, I propose to adapt the basic elements of the work of drama theorist Augusto Boal into videogame design. Boal created a set of techniques for participative theater that raises the spectators’ awareness about their reality and encourages personal and social change. I propose two examples of how these goals could be attained by using videogames. One is based on a popular videogame that simulates suburban life. By modifying its design, I suggest ways for players to deconstruct the simulation’s ideological assumptions and discuss alternative constructions that reflect their personal opinions. The second, uses videogame design in order to x allow players to present their personal problems as unresolved simulations that will be shared and discussed among peers.