When I introduced Gamification as a teaching model to my principal 5 years ago one of the first questions was “What about the girls?”. This was completely fair because society suggests that only boys are gamers. Even the term ‘gamer’ implies a certain type boy and as “Gamergate” suggests this has become a cultural signifier. In fact most girls that play games do not consider themselves gamers.
I came across this Vox interview (transcript) with Megan Condis a professor of Communications at Texas Tech describing how White Nationalists, Mysoginists groups, and others use video games as a recruitment tool for “gamers”. (Read the article for her definition of the term).
It was easy for me to say to my Principal that girls play games too. I was also able to show that the mechanics that I would use were inspired by games and not playing games in an online environment. My explanations were successful and I have been gamifying my classroom since.
I have been thinking about this quite a bit since the Trump election though. Regardless of your politics or how you attribute the blame it is undeniable how much that event was seen as license for racist and misogynistic actions. I have been reflecting,on my own classroom and thinking about how my game elements have been recieved among my “gamers” and “non-gamers”. If anything we have been having more conversarions about race and gender. In SC the Confederate flag is never far from conversation in US History. My mechanics have allowed for more small conferences which have allowed for more intimate conversations and I have been getting really good questions. I hope my answers have been helpful.
My concerns is the move towards more authentic use of online communities. I recently read a post about a game design class that was petitioning the school board to use Fortnite’s design tools to create and share their original games. There has been a rise of eSports leagues within high schools often seeking to use Fortnite, Overwatch, Rocket League and other massively connected environment games as key games. There is an entire curriculum developed around Minecraft. These are the exact environments that Megan Condis highlights as potential recruitment locations.
I am not arguing that these need to be abandoned but it is easy to hand wave these concerns as outliers. I am also not limiting my concern to video games. YouTube is a great tool but can easily be turned into a nefarious tool. The same can be said for social media, Google tools, and other web based platforms.
I am not sure of the answer but I would love to hear thoughts on the article. Please share other articles and information to help me grow in this issue too!