Teaching Gamefully: Proceduralizing the Writing Classroom through Possibility Space Pedagogy

Elizabeth Caravella

Major Professor: Steve Holmes, PhD, Department of English

Committee Members: Douglas Eyman, Michelle LaFrance, Rebekah Shultz Colby

Fenwick Library, #3001
March 04, 2019, 01:30 PM to 02:30 PM


While some multimodal composition researchers have utilized gamification practices, or, using the language of video games to seemingly turn the classroom into a game itself, these approaches often have severe limitations, in that they rely only on shallow, external motivations (McGonigal 2010), can be exploitative (Bogost 2012), and often fail to consider the design elements necessary to produce the intended results (Shultz Colby 2017). This dissertation presents three case studies of using games in the writing classroom: examining how the narrative game Night in the Woods builds its argument in order to influence a change in student-players’ disposition; analyzing how "meta-games" such as Undertale make implicit ethical arguments through their very mechanics, rather than the narrative and/or characters, and how student-players acknowledge and respond to these embedded ethical arguments; and how games like Breath of the Wild use emergent gameplay mechanics to facilitate the development of metic intelligence in student-players by providing more complex encounters and puzzles as players gain more experience playing the game.