This quarter I’ve had the good fortune to teach an experimental class in UCSB’s Department of English. “Gaming the System” encourages students to design research-based digital games (or mods or virtual spaces – I wanted to leave options open) that address issues of social justice.
I was apprehensive about the class going in, never having taught game design before and doing this in the context of an English class in which the students may or may not have significant experience using digital tools. I’m reserving longer reflective thoughts for a future post, but in a nutshell: my students rose to the occasion and surpassed all of my expectations. Each of the 8 groups in the class researched, designed, and created a prototype for a digital game that focuses on a social justice issue of the group’s choice.
Anyone in the Santa Barbara area is welcome to join us at our classes this Monday, June 3, and Wednesday, June 5, from 330-5 pm. Each group will give a presentation of their game design and social justice issue and are prepared to field questions from the audience. Here is the schedule and brief description of the students’ projects:
- Bad Apple: Virtual museum and mini-game exhibit chronicling the social and environmental impact of the life cycle of an iPhone – built and hosted in the department’s Second Life space.
- Equality Street: Modified Frogger-type game designed to intervene on colorblindness ideology.
- Infinite Loop: Interactive maze exploring social media “slacktivism.”
- Consequences: Mini-games assessing compromises between environmental and social justice issues.
- Love Like a Cholo: Interactive dating simulation tackling issues of class, queerness, and race in urban Los Angeles.
- Outsource Frenzy: Corporate simulator exploring the distance between a CEO and their company’s exploited labor.
- Tethered: Multiplayer maze commenting on issues of power and domestic violence.
- Phil the Quota: Predatory capitalistic practices destroy a community.