Banished: Towards a Playable Human Ecology

Feb 07, 17 Banished: Towards a Playable Human Ecology

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At first glance, Banished feels pretty familiar for gamers who grew up playing things like Age of Empires. You start with a small stock of supplies and a few workers standing around in the wilderness. Your task is to efficiently convert that wilderness into a late-medieval settlement. I was initially excited about Banished because...

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Designing Ideology

Feb 05, 14 Designing Ideology

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Videogames are inextricably bound to ideology.  In most cases, this is not by design, but simply because game developers tend to create virtual worlds that reflect the particular way in which they see the real world.  As Ian Bogost (2006) has noted, these ideological frames are rarely explicit, making it all the more important...

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Games as Text and K12 Social Studies

Jan 01, 14 Games as Text and K12 Social Studies

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I’m often asked by colleagues who know my interest in games in education to suggest a game students can play that will teach them some particular set of knowledge or skills. “Do you know any iPad games that can teach quadratic equations?,” or “Has anyone made a game about conjugating Spanish verbs?” While these games may...

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What’s in a Name?

Aug 14, 13 What’s in a Name?

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This is a mostly serious and occasionally tongue-in-cheek open response to Kevin Bacon’s (@fauxtoegrafik) thoughtful and honest blog post “Nameless Gameless.” I’m hoping it will spark some open dialogue between a variety of folks interested in cultural heritage and meaningful play (and of course, those...

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Playing at Slavery: Modding Colonization for Authenticity

May 24, 12 Playing at Slavery: Modding Colonization for Authenticity

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When Trevor and I started writing a series based on the 2008 version of Sid Meier’s Colonization, we knew that the issues we wanted to discuss were already controversial. Trevor’s initial post discussed the fervor with which bloggers reacted to the game’s release, and he argued that games about colonization should be offensive...

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