The CUNY Games Network’s own Joe Bisz offered up this photograph of his students playing the Battlestar Galactica Board Game (known affectionately by its fans as “BSG”) at the end of his course in Science Fiction literature. To my mind, science fiction instruction could never be complete without including games, for two reasons: 1) Science Fiction is a genre that is devoted to the idea of world-building–that is, system building–and watching those worlds develop and play out; 2) Science Fiction is among the top genres that games use to skin their mechanics (with perhaps only Fantasy topping it).
Extra Lives is in many ways the book about video games I have been waiting for. Forget Bogost’s procedurality or Gee’s 36 theses about why they matter. What Bissel does is articulate — exactly — a fact about video games that I have always found to be a great contradiction for me. I know the writing is almost always terrible; I know the games’ maturity level are lucky to reach even the sophomoric; I know video games have decades, maybe centuries to go before they mature as an art form. Yet right now, as they are, I love them. I am drawn to them compulsively. I crave them. But with all the ways in which they fail as art, why?
Tom Bissel’s book provides one answer, an answer I find extremely compelling. There is absolutely no underestimating the immersive value of games, their ability to allow players to embody their experience in an alternate world. That single fact trumps, at least for Bissel and me, almost every other aesthetic principle that has existed heretofore. In other words, I would prefer to be in a game world than almost anywhere else.
(Review to be continued later.)
Our website includes a collection of resources on using games in teaching and learning, as well as examples of pedagogical games. Visit the Using Games section to find games you can use in your classroom. Interested in research or publishing your own scholarly work? Head to Publish Your Research to find out about scholarly journals that publish on games-based learning.
What’s coming next?
Here are some features we’re planning for the future:
- More guidelines for using games in your teaching, including choosing the right lesson for your game and choosing the right game mechanic for your lesson
- Search for games by discipline, subject, or game mechanic
- And (of course), more games!
If you have suggestions or comments, we’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.