Experiments in Game-Based Pedagogy: Playful Approaches for the Media Production & Digital Humanities College Classroom

EXPERIMENTS IN GAME-BASED PEDAGOGY: PLAYFUL APPROACHES FOR THE MEDIA PRODUCTION & DIGITAL HUMANITIES COLLEGE CLASSROOM is an ongoing series of game prototypes investigating the unique affordances, as well as challenges and limitations, of play and experiential games in media education. 

The 151 DIRECTORS prototype in the series is a social physical game that is played in the real world. The prototype is designed for an undergraduate college classroom and specifically, for a course in the Film and Digital Media Department at the University of California Santa Cruz. 

See this video essay and description of the game.

With a Latinx and Latin American student population of well above 25 percent, UCSC is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. The Film and Digital Media Department offers several undergraduate and graduate programs in media scholarship and production, and the curriculum includes a broad set of core values and skill sets including innovative nonfiction, critical theory and practice hybridity, and digital social justice interventions. The 151 Film Directing class is an introductory course and it is popular among undergraduate students wanting to explore the director’s multifaceted role in film and media production.

This prototype – to be played on the first day of classes – is an experiment looking into how gameplay itself might prompt collaborative and expeditious media-making, creativity, and learning in the college classroom. As such, we identified the following four learning goals:

  1. Firstly, to cover some basics: this is the first day of class, much like there is also a first day of production on the set. The game seeks to communicate – experientially – that it is necessary for everyone to quickly realize that this is a collaborative space. Bonding will be required. Team members will need to lift each other up. Not one person has all the skills, competencies, and behaviors necessary to accomplish this, but working together it can all come into place.
  2. To encourage assertiveness: the game constructs a “magic circle” or conceptual “brave space” where players are encouraged to talk about the stories they want to tell and their director’s vision.
  3. To create a collaborative creative short filmed scene that has creative merit. The game presents a structure to accomplish this even if the players have no prior experience in film production.
  4. To gesture towards basic realities about the film industry: production sets are high-pressure environments where creativity and pragmatism must coalesce and where everyone needs to feel safe, included, and respected.

For further details, see this video essay and description of the game.


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