Sunday, December 11, 2011
Is the novel dead?
Now that I have your attention via my post title, I'm asking this question more with a view on what is taught in English classrooms in high schools. Is there anyone here who believes that schools should only teach novels and plays? I'm going to assume that as many of you reading this may be book bloggers, that I'm talking to the converted. That is, you may have had great enjoyment in your English classes and this is good, because I want to ask what did you study in school? Was it only print text novels? Did you study plays - I have a feeling the majority of people would say yes with a particular emphasis on Shakespeare. How about movies? Television? Did anyone study computer games, or websites?
This post is about the idea of playing games in an English classroom and using it as a tool for teaching. Or viewing it as another text. My preference of game would be something that is in the Adventure genre. So this doesn't mean shoot em up games or role playing games, but rather interactive fiction. The idea is that you have a protagonist in the game and the user navigates the interface and propels the character through the game by means of dialogue with other characters and this then makes the narrative of the game move along. Sometimes these games are described as point-and-click. There are many examples of this genre that can be found at Adventuregamers.com, if anyone is interested in checking out some titles.
In a post I did a few months ago I talked about a teacher, Tim Rylands who has done just this, using games in a primary school setting. The game he chose was Myst. There's a link to his website and also some footage of his classes in action. What I love best about Tim Rylands teaching is how engaged his students are and the work they are producing.
The above site Adventure gamers has a forum and I proposed this question of what fellow gamers thought of playing them in classrooms. I was surprised at some of the negativity that some of these gamers showed. They didn't think that it was 'serious' enough to be studied and what exactly would students learn from them. What do you think? Of course there were many replies from gamers who had had the privilege of studying a game in class and said it had been a good experience. One comment said that sometimes teachers bring their own agenda into classrooms and force students to learn what the teacher is into. He cited rock music as an example of what he had to learn. I think that's a fair comment, and perhaps that is what I'm doing?
Anyway, this post is getting far too long and I've got heaps more I want to say on the subject. However, for now, if you have an opinion I would love to hear about it.