Ed Chang and I showed a poster on teaching [with] video games at the 2010 UW Teaching and Learning Symposium. The two of us have taught video games as content together and separately multiple times in the last two years and from that experience we have learned some things about how students react to a class about gaming that we wanted to share. What we found at the poster session, however, was that the idea of teaching games as primary text is still a pretty foreign concept.
Our poster presented a sample syllabus, lists of benefits and challenges to teaching gaming, and tips based on our experience. Most of the poster discussed our success structuring a course to respond to student resistance to doing critical analysis of games. In short, we constructed a course that began with games that had clear ideological messages before presenting more mainstream titles that might require more reading against the grain. It was our hope that we could get students accustomed looking at games critically so we could eventually use that critical eye to discern how a relationship between gaming and culture at large.
At the symposium, however, most people who came to talk with us assumed we were using games in an instrumental fashion to teach some other content. Generally, folks were surprised that we were teaching the games themselves. After getting on the same page, we had some really terrific discussions. What stood out to me, though, was how far gaming still has to come before it is generally considered an academic topic. And, secondly, that as a result, the work Ed and I and so many other folks studying games are doing to promote gaming and game culture as worthy of attention is very much needed.