Any Writing Games?

Last week the Educational Gaming Commons hosted a brownbag on the Typo! game being used at Schuylkill in sections of English 15 being taught by Bim Angst.

This tool is designed to test your proofing ability – a very key skill for any working copywriter. But of course, writing is more than just proofing. Stuart Selber in the English department wondered if there was more, so I thought I would look around.

Interestingly, most “educational” writing or language games are targeted for younger students and are fairly low-level. So time to think creatively.

One possibility that occurred to me are some “parlor” games like Taboo. In Taboo, you are given a word like “chess” and five words you CANNOT use to describe the game (e.g. game, pieces, chessboard, checkmate, pawn). Eliminating “cliche” words forces you to think of some other way to describe something – an interesting writing exercise, I think.

Another interesting class are exercises like Five Card Nancy or many other creative writing exercises. One that inspired terror in me was the one where adjectives were eliminated – Yikes.

From a gaming perspective, I find these interesting. If you follow Ruben Puentedura’s definition of a game which assume that there are both rules and a way to keep score (and to win), these exercises may not be exactly games. Although there are rules, and solutions, it may not clear who has the best solution. Then again, writing is one of the most open-ended activities out there along art and music. Why should their games be any different?

A Final Gaming Challenge for Writers and Educators

When conceptualizing a game for education, one of the hardest issues for me to consider is how to develop a compelling narrative or interaction that still delivers the learning objectives we want.

The point of the game should be that we’re so involved with it that we enter flow and “forget” that we’re learning (or forget that we’re learning something for school). Unfortunately, a fault of many educational games is that they are so educational, that the fun has been lost.

Is this something an understanding of writing could help with?

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1 Response to Any Writing Games?

  1. MATTHEW N MEYER says:

    Elizabeth, I think the biggest obstacle to higher-level writing ‘games’ are the design and programming aspects. Someone has to be willing to invest the time and resources (read: money) to develop one. With all the programming logic required to enforce certain writing ‘rules’, it becomes a huge endeavor with an unknown ‘return’. Perhaps games that take advantage of 2.0 technologies and communities that share writing in a critical manner that is also somehow a game?

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