Last Friday (11/22) I had an opportunity to present at 2013 National Council of Social Studies (NCSS) conference on learning global issues through serious games at St. Louis, MO and would like to share some materials from my presentation with the lab. The hour-long presentation went well (from the perspective that I didn't get nervous during the presentation and things went as planned for the most part), and I was glad that there were about 40 social studies educators who made it to the first morning session and made the huge conference room less empty. Since the major theoretical views grounded in my talk are social experience learning and situated learning matrix (Gee, 2007
), I thought it made more sense that I started my presentation with an online serious game. I invited one volunteer to play My Cotton Picking Life
, a game about child labor in Uzbekistan, and led a brief big group discussion about its design.
The gaming experiences provided the audience with good references for the abstract theoretical points I presented (25 minutes) right after the warm-up activity (25 minutes, see slides below). The last part of my presentation was another collective gaming activity on the issue of women inequality. I used this Facebook game, Half the Sky Movement
, to illustrate some other potentials of gaming for social change. Major strengths of this game include raising awareness of women inequality issues through FB (it encourages players to invite their friends to join the game) and making real world social impact through gaming (as the players involve more in the game, Half the Sky foundation partners with some non-profit organizations to do real world social actions such as donating books for the players).
At the end, some participants shared other games they found useful such as The Stock Market game
with the group. One reminded us that the requirement of a FB login might be a challenge for the game to be used in schools.
It was also my first time visiting St. Louis, so I went around the city after the presentation. The famous St. Louis Gateway Arch
was very close to where I stayed so I decided to take a look though I have to admit that before visiting it, I had no idea why it was a landmark (After all, it's just an arch, I thought). Seeing it on site felt totally different! I was amazed at the structure of the huge architecture and stayed a while just looking at it and glad that I went there.