Role Playing Games (RPGs) in the Classroom: Fleshspace vs. Digital

We are being increasingly encouraged to “gamify” the classroom. Educators such as Cathy N. Davidson (Now You See It(@cathyndavidson) and Jane McGonigal (Reality is Broken) have suggested that games can help engage students in deeper ways than traditional learning methods.

I’d like to discuss how we can best implement Role Playing Games, or RPGs, in higher education. RPGs are well suited to the classroom because of their structure, which encourages students to identify with their characters and game objectives. Some excellent pedagogical examples include Reacting to the Past at Barnard, a series of elaborate historical games where students roleplay real historical characters with the possibility of changing historical events through mastery of historical and cultural knowledge (for more information, see my blog post here), and the Practomime project, where Latin students have to thoroughly assimilate into the ancient Roman world to save the world.

The following questions may be helpful in guiding discussion: how we can use digital tools to enhance role playing learning efforts (course websites, wikis as “codexes”, social media for team building/knowledge sharing)? Further, how, and should, these role-playing become digital in form? Most successful classroom RPGs have been “fleshspace” based, where gameplayers meet in person. How can we use the digital to enhance the “fleshspace” experience, and to augment or transform it?

About adelinekoh

Ade­line Koh is an assis­tant pro­fes­sor of lit­er­a­ture at Richard Stock­ton Col­lege. She teaches courses on post­colo­nial lit­er­a­ture and the­ory, twen­ti­eth cen­tury British lit­er­a­ture, lit­er­ary the­ory and fem­i­nist the­ory, and is devel­op­ing courses on the dig­i­tal human­i­ties. She has pub­lished an edited vol­ume of essays on the inter­na­tional Third Cin­ema move­ment , and arti­cles on Joseph Con­rad, Frantz Fanon, race, colo­nial­ism and edu­ca­tion , and guest posts on dig­i­tal pub­lish­ing in the Profhacker col­umn at the Chron­i­cle of Higher Edu­ca­tion. She is the direc­tor of the Stock­ton Post­colo­nial Stud­ies Project.

4 thoughts on “Role Playing Games (RPGs) in the Classroom: Fleshspace vs. Digital

  1. I’d be interested in talking about this, especially with the outreach to digital humanities. I work on the instructional technology side but also use RTTP in my courses.

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