Information Flux in the 21st Century

Digital Youth Media & Technology

I was privileged to be one of those in the know to attend the first annual NYC Digital Youth Media & Technology Festival last Saturday, June 27th. On a warm, sunny afternoon a sea of teens seated at tables in a room at the New School were absorbed in the games they developed, and were demonstrating mostly to each other. Facilitators from various organizations, including Global Kids and the NYPL, were available to help out wherever needed. After talking to one from Global Kids, I went over to a teen from a school in Brooklyn who demonstrated her game. I was very impressed with her poise, her knowledge of the subject, and her presentation of the literacy skills used in the game, so much so that I forgot the theme of her game.

The presentation portion was the Playing for Keeps Challenge. Three groups of high school students presented games they conceived at after school programs held in three NYPL branches. The first group showed an amusing, clever video to demonstrate their anti-drug themed game. The other groups did a great job of walking through their games on posters. Again, I was overwhelmed by how engaged the students were in their projects. They seem to connect to the subject matter in ways that they would not by writing a traditional report.

I am doing a lot of homework these days to support my interest in how games provide a different and possibly better way to learn. I am currently reading James Paul Gee’s book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. The chapter that I am reading now on “Learning and Identity…” illustrates through the example of a character that the author developed in the game, Arcanum, the identities at stake in this role playing game. According to James Paul Gee, first there is the virtual identity, the player as character, then there is the player’s real world identity as a player of the game, in this case player as character. Finally, there is the projective identity; the player projects his identity on the character and the player considers the character a project in the making.

I am beginning to see how games engage players and teach a different type of literacy, and how with the right games players can learn traditional K-12 subjects, as well as contemporary social issues, in this recursive way. It reminds me of Electronic Literature, and what I learned from Katherine Hayles book. While reading that book and discussing it in my Information Architecture course, I suspected there was a connection between that genre of literature originating in digital form and electronic games. We, as humans, are forming new modes of understanding by interacting with these digital born constructs.


July 4, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: