Awesome Art/Social Commentary Game Designer

Today I have spent roughly three hours playing with the games and multi-media social commentary gadgets created by Nick Case.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.57.53 PM

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I think you absolutely must check out the coming out story and the parable of polygons. I spent the most time with the parable simply because I enjoyed the way it made me think. There was also the temptation to pull data from different cities and try out the simulation. Case’s work is strongly influencing my own game design ideas. The slew of little projects share is also a bit of a wake-up call. My production certainly lacks.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.58.57 PM


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Bavelier Inducing a Broader Concept in my Game Design Schema!

Today I either watched for the first time, or rewatched with a greater awareness of the content, Daphne Bavelier’s TED Talk on action video games and the brain embed below. The researchers at Bavelier Lab have recently described playing first-person action games as a way to affect perception, attention and cognition.I especially appreciated the information on increasing the perceiver’s ability to search through a cluttered scene. Most middle school passing periods meet that criteria. In addition the researchers were able to determine that action games were able to lead to greater benefits in theses areas than other entertainment games.

Another Photoshop Stick Figure Doodle by RurikUntil this round with the video I was focussing on increasing educator empathetic response to bullying based in part on Greitemeyer, Brauer, and Osswald2 as well as experiments like IfYouCan, and other media experiments such as described in this NPR story. The problem with this was developing a literature review that could frame how empathy impacts players. My solution was to research as many studies of games that seek to achieve an impact on player empathy. What has resulted is a frustration with the complexity of empathy and lack of direction. Bavelier’s research helps connecting games more directly to skills and our brains rather than the more difficult to define, though no less exciting, world of psychology.

Getting down to the details, according to what I have read so far action game players can track more objects. They grow to recognize finer distinctions in what they see. What if one of the keys to increasing educator intervention in the marginalizing of LGBTQ youth is to increase, through an action game, educators’ recognition of and ability to track behaviors that contribute to a hostile school climate for marginalized students?  Often I hear educators describe their retreat from the chaos of a rowdy classroom or noisy hall and being unable to track the multitude of students. If an action game can increase educator ability to track more students would they not feel more comfortable in those situations and more capably intervene. Well – you can see where my thoughts went on this.

Now I just need to continue to keep my eyes open for additional approaches rather than the empathy bog I was falling into.

Daphne Bavelier’s TED Talk:


1) Green, C Shawn, and Daphne Bavelier. "Effect of action video games on the spatial distribution of visuospatial attention." Journal of experimental psychology: Human perception and performance 32.6 (2006): 1465.

2) Greitemeyer, Tobias, Silvia Osswald, and Markus Brauer. "Playing prosocial video games increases empathy and decreases schadenfreude." Emotion 10.6 (2010): 796.

Book Spotlight: Fly Away Home

(null) Recently I spent some time looking for picture books that tackle social justice issues in a sensitive way. Hopefully I will share several but this first one hit me pretty hard. Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting does a credible job of describing what it is like to be homeless, employed, and living in an airport. At one point in my life I experienced a similar situation. It is amazing what you can survive and how often folks will overlook someone. During my stay at an international airport (I found a roommate in another airport resident just after a week) I bought orange juice and oatmeal from the same coffee vendor every morning and evening. My lunch occurred at work, a college coffee shop.

This tale contains an unreal authenticity to my own experience and seeing other “Terminal Homeless”. It also facets the lens on what people view as homelessness. I have experienced several types and never has it included living under cardboard. Unless you count an apartment I lived in during college. I am pretty sure the roof was just tacked up cardboard with the number of leaks I experienced that winter. At any rate, sharing this picture book with your kids is worthwhile. Share a picture of what life is like for the economically disadvantaged. There is extreme difficulty in finding affordable housing at minimum wage.

Order it. Google some lesson plans for sharing in the classroom or check out this one that I found. If you need a preview before ordering there are always YouTube videos.

In keeping with a spotlight I am ending this post here but I think this book deserves a place in your social justice younger reader library.