Should You Be Making Games?

Should You Be Making Games? July 24, 2016

It was interesting to have an article come across my feed, providing guidance about whether one should quit one’s job and create video games instead, at the same time that I became aware that Leigh Grossman has a Kickstarter campaign for an RPG app:

Do take a look, and consider either contributing or helping to spread the word. Leigh put together the monumental volume Sense of Wonder, an enormous compendium of science fiction stories and essays to which I contributed. And so he is a great example of an academic who is also a gamer and an app-maker.

I was reminded while I was in Italy about the Role Playing Game developed at Minnesota State University, allowing students to reenact the Council of Nicaea. It was discussed by Erin Walsh, Steve Wiggins, and Emily’s blog about a class called “History of Heresy.”

I’m also bummed to be missing Gen Con this year. But I will be presenting with a couple of colleagues at Butler University about gamification in education, and one of them will report on Trade Day at Gen Con. You can be sure that I, in turn, will blog about our presentation here sometime in the Fall semester.

It also looks like there is another book I should read related to this topic: Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College by Marc Carnes. Have any of you read it?

And for those who are wondering, I have not forgotten my idea for a canon card game. I’m still thinking about it and tinkering with the concept and game play possibilities, since I want to have something fun and educational that really works well even before the alpha-testing phase. Perhaps I’ll have my own Kickstarter campaign for that at some point…

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  • John MacDonald

    You could make a missionary RPG where the characters build up TXP (theology experience points) by winning converts. As a preamble to playing the game students could read the following passages.

    (A) 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17)

    (B) The Great Commission

    16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

    (C) Sending out Emissaries (Luke 10:1-3, 17-30)

    Just as Moses had chosen twelve spies to reconnoiter the land which stretched “before your face,” sending them through the cities of the land of Canaan, so does Jesus send a second group, after the twelve, a group of seventy, whose number symbolizes the nations of the earth who are to be “conquered,” so to speak, with the gospel in the Acts of the Apostles. He sends them out “before his face” to every city he plans to visit (in Canaan, too, obviously).

    (D) Paul’s coat of many colors:

    Paul wrote: “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the Law I became like one under the Law (though I myself am not under the Law), to win those under the Law. To those without the Law I became like one without the Law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the Law.… (1 Cor 9:20).”

    • John MacDonald

      5 TXP (theology experience points) for converting a desperate alcoholic at his first AA meeting, and 1000 TXP for converting Richard Carrier. You lose the game if an atheist converts you! lol

      • There was a video game like that in an episode of the Simpsons!

        • John MacDonald

          One of the best laughs I’ve had from the Simpsons was the episode where Todd Flanders (or maybe it was Rod Flanders) said in prayer: “Thank you Lord for saving us from the tornado you sent.” lol

          • I think you are vaguely misremembering the sign outside the church after the hurricane in the episode “Hurricane Neddy,” which says “God Welcomes His Victims.”

          • John MacDonald

            Apparently my reliability as an eyewitness to the Simpson episode I saw a decade or more ago is in question. There’s probably a New Testament joke in there somewhere. lol

  • I’ve read Carnes’s book and think it is worthwhile, and I’ve used one of the RTTP games and plan on doing so again. In my experience, I’ve found students need a lot of reassurance to try something our of the ordinary like this, but in the end its much more effective for enlivening an historical imagination than just working though primary source texts.