Value of gaming takes center stage for symposium

Flyer for video games and gaming symposium
Flyer for video games and gaming symposium
Click on the image to view the symposium schedule.

Do video games build skills in critical thinking, resource and money management, strategic planning and overcoming obstacles? Northern Arizona University faculty will host a community discussion and symposium to explore the subject that will educate, and perhaps reshape, perceptions of games and the gaming culture.

NAU’s Interdisciplinary Writing Program, the Department of English and the Philosophy in the Public Interest kick off the discussion from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27, with “Do You Play? Video Games and Learning: A Community Discussion,” at the Murdoch Center on Butler Avenue. Nicole Pfannenstiel, lecturer of rhetoric and writing at NAU, will lead the discussion.

The exploration continues during the Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Video Game Symposium from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 29, on the first floor of the Liberal Arts building. It will feature game playing, speakers, panels and presentations in six areas: Experimentation, Design and Gameplay; Narrated Gameplay; Narratives, Social Reality and Gaming; Gender, Perceptions and Gaming; Communicating, Interacting, Composing and Gaming; Gender, Perceptions and Gaming; Communicating, Interacting, Composing and Gaming; and Popular Culture, Global Communities. Guests will be invited to participate in an interactive game throughout the day.

Both events are free and open to the public.

“Usually, [gaming] is a topic that is discouraged, and that you would avoid in an academic setting,” said Nancy Barron,  director of the Interdisciplinary Writing Program. “The goal of this event is to show that video gaming is not only worthy of intellectual discourse, but to also show that it is a rich field for study.”

As a result, students across numerous disciplines from music education to math and psychology to political science, will deliver presentations wide-ranging topics such as “Composing for Video Games,” “The Backlash Against Women in Gaming,” “Gray Area Morality in Video Games” and “Is Aggression Stemming From Violent Video Games?” Barron said the students were challenged to present work steeped in research and study in order to provide a strong, factual basis for discussion.

Betty Gee and James Gee, professors in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University who specialize in gaming, learning and literacy, will speak during the symposium and facilitate discussion at both events. The symposium will close with guest speaker Eric Kain, who writes about video games for Forbes Magazine.