Saturday, February 25, 2006

PBI: Topic & Question

Place-based Handheld Games (PbHG) is a terrible name and acronym. I like the simplicity or ARG (augmented reality games), but ARG doesn't get into the "culture of place" aspects that I like (I had been trying to call culture of place "geoculture", but Immanuel Wallerstein already has that term defined with a much different meaning than what I envision for it).

In some ways, I'm trying to touch on something similar to Ellen McMahon and Karen White's Critical Issues in Design project:
The point of the project is to give students a better understanding of how their particular cultural and personal experiences mold their perspectives, create their sense of identity and influence the way they make and interpret visual material.
but I'm turning it around to look at a specific place and culture, and its influence on the play and redesign of a game.

But that's not it either. It's a study of culture and the impact of immersion in place nature and social groupings in collaborative game design, but it's specifically-framed in a game experience that is currently very technology-dependent. Is it enough to focus on the technology-aspect of it, since that is the biggest hurdle?

I could see this being a multi-tiered project, where the first year I focus on training the campers in the use of the technology. The second year I look at their use of it (the game experience itself). The third year I look at the progressive iterations of their game designs. The fourth year I examine the cultural aspects of new learning of the game an the transfer of information and culture from experienced player/designers to new player/designers. The fifth year I could look at the cultural norms transferred through the game itself. The sixth year I could examine the effect of the place that the game is played, and the immersion in a deep woods environment.

Etc.

But I need to narrow down for this year; for my dissertation. I need to keep it simple and do-able, but use a name that is flexible enough to grow with the project. The more I think of it, and how it could develop, how its focus is on using technology as learning tool or medium, and the culture of geographical place as the content, I keep returning to "Place-Based Inquiry," which sounds good ("PBI" has good ring to it), seems flexible enough to grow and adapt as my study does (I can append "games" or "ARGs" or "tools" -- or "theory" if I ever get that far), and it emphasizes that my focus is on place, which I guess it is, which is why I prefer field trips to classrooms, and teach outside of the classroom. And "PBI" is better than PBL (Learning) because "Inquiry" is a bottom-up process, whereas some still argue that Learning or Education is top-down.

I'm all about questions. Now to get one...

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