Category Archives: Humanities Games

Rhetorical Peaks: The potential and the problems of teaching the humanities through games

I learned about Rhetorical Peaks at the Humanities Gaming Institute I attended last year. To my mind, it’s the most realized game so far made when it comes to trying to duplicate the kind of critical thinking instructors try to teach their students. Thing is, it can’t be played independently; it needs to be played in the context of a classroom, and under the guidance of a professor. It’s a game, still–can you solve the mystery?–but it’s not a game that uses a set of self-governing game mechanics to convey humanities knowledge, or ways of knowing.

Rhetorical Peaks is a study in making games for the humanities, both in terms of lessons to learn and pitfalls to avoid. My reading of it is that it trades immersion and autonomy for classroom-specific goals. My dream is that we learn to make games that don’t have those trade-offs: that they be immersive, autonomous games that teach the humanities’ ways of understanding the world.