This is a post by Helen – it is an example of a kind of short, reflective post you might like to write for assignment 2. Enjoy!
When designing any Masters unit it is difficult to narrow down the number of potentially appropriate readings that could support the curriculum objectives. For the ‘essential reading’ for Week 9 I selected Clare Bradford’s (2010) article that takes its title from a video game playing practice she describes as ‘looking for my corpse’. In this blog post I reflect on some of the reasons for this choice.
First, Bradford—perhaps like many of you—is a teacher of children’s literature. Second, she is a relative novice to video game playing. This is probably also true of some teachers of ‘a certain age’, or those with particular dispositions towards new technologies and computers. I imagined, therefore, that Bradford’s reflections on the topic of video games might interest teachers who agree that popular culture should be incorporated into the curriculum even if they remain unsure about how this should best be accomplished. Third, I believe this article is useful in this unit because it refuses to set up binary oppositions between high and ‘low’ (popular) culture, or between the study of books and the study of video games. Rather, the author takes a ‘both / and’ approach. That is, she argues that video games should be studied using both well-known strategies derived from literary and film studies and using specific strategies that apply to that form.
The body of Bradford’s article responds to Gee’s (2006, p. 58) caution that, as a new art form, video games are “largely immune to traditional tools developed for the analysis of literature and film” (cited in Bradford, 2010, p. 55). In summary, she argues that: “if we are to engage young people in games analysis, we must also encourage them to be conscious of how games work; the pressures and pleasures they exert; and how they position their players.” Bradford adds the caution that there are different genres and styles of games, played on different platforms, and by different populations of players. This means that it is impossible to make any easy generalisations about how video games should be studied even though we might agree that concepts such as ‘immersion’, ‘engagement’ and ‘flow’ (Carr, 2006 cited in Bradford, 2010, p, 57) are generally useful. In my view this is an important reminder.
A fourth reason that this article was chosen is that it reports in part on a three-year study conducted by Bradford and colleagues titled Literacy in the Digital World of the Twenty First Century: Learning from Computer Games (Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, 2007-2009). Project leader Catherine Beavis is one of the few Australian researchers in the field of English and literacy education to have a sustained history of working with schools to undertake research on this topic. Other papers from the project, published in the same journal as Bradford (2010), are well worth reading as is other work published by members of the project team.
By: Helen Nixon
Bradford, C. (2010). Looking for my corpse: video games and player positioning. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy 33(1), pp. 64-64.