Gaming Crossover to my Real Life

Computers pay my (and my families) way in life.  I used to be a manager and trainer for the Australian Government but I decided to change my life and do something that I knew I would do very well.  I wandered off to University as a mature age student and got a Bachelor of Computing with first class honours.  I did spend some time doing a PhD but it was not to be as real life closed in on all sides but I did pick up some nice specialised skills during this time.

I was approached by the local college (which in Tasmania is actually years 11 and 12 for my American and interstate friends) to teach Computer Science and all other things computing including Computing(game design).  So I get to focus on programming a lot during the day.  But I am a creative soul at heart and over time this has begun to wear me down.  Also, I am now doing my education degree part time and the learning I am getting through that makes me feel that my classes are falling short of what I would like to teach as opposed to what I do.  The criteria of the courses I teach ask me to teach programming but programming is nothing without context.  Context comes from working with clients and customers and I want to be able to integrate that into my courses.

Have to expand their skills and give them some idea of what
collaboration is like in the real world.

I want to be able to inspire a group of students from different disciplines to create something new.  Much like we as role players do every time that we sit at the table.  A new experience.  A new approach.  A shared story.  On Friday I approached my colleague and talked to him about it and he said there was a course whose criteria would allow for this style of approach but I would need to talk to the Principal about it.  This morning I did that very same thing and she was quite excited about the concept as the course that I want to use it in is one that she would like to see grow.

So, this morning I have created a flyer advertising what I would like to do and attaching it to the course that would allow it.  The principal then tasked me with getting some of the key players on board.  For this to work in a cross discipline environment then we need a cross discipline team working on it and supporting it.  The English/Drama head teacher is all for it and the head Art teacher has some concerns that it would take away from her own classes.  I have put the idea out there though and so I now want to start talking about it to try and create something special.  My vision is this.

I want students of English to create an environment for a story.  A world or environment that is rich for expression and ideas to be joined in it.  I want the drama students to consider what might happen in an environment like that.  I want the artists to work on concept sketches to realise the environment.  I want the graphics designers to work on textures and presentation for the world.  I want the musicians to work on a score for the environment and I want the programmers to pull it all into a cohesive whole.  Be it a game or an artistic expression I want the small cross discipline group to get together and create something.

A flyer that I came up with after the Principal
requested it.

The way we teach at the moment has no realism involved.  nearly everything is a collaboration of people with different skills and I want students who have the capacity to be inspired by how things like this are truly created.  It is very rare that something comes about in isolation of everything else, especially in the programming field.  I can see myself using a lot of creative materials including RPG’s like Numenara etc. to help these students become motivated and focus their creativity.

I realise, for those of you that have seen/read the Last Lecture material that this is a lot like what Randy Pausch did and I take a lot of the inspiration from him.  I do not expect perfection or brilliance, but I do want to see creativity and innovation.  These students are those that are still forming themselves as people and I want to inspire them as part of that process.

This post has been only tenuously about RPG’s but I am always thankful, and inspired, by the reactions I get from my readers.  You all have different life experiences and you always reply with material that makes me think differently or look at things in a fresh manner.  And so I bring my idea to you all to ask one question.  What do you think?  How am I best to achieve this and do you think it would be a worthwhile experience for the students?  What advice would you give me if this idea gains momentum in the college and becomes a reality?  Until next time, keep rolling!

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