Video Games As Equipment for Living - CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture

Video Games As Equipment for Living

By CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture

  • Release Date - Published: 2011-09-01
  • Book Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Author: CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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Video Games As Equipment for Living CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture read online review & book description:

For centuries books and printing have been the dominant medium in Western culture. Today we are confronted with major shifts: from paper page to digital screen, from writing and reading to the audiovisual-mode, from the older organization of texts to digital design and databases, etc. Dealing with this changing environment implies we need new perspectives on literacy because an autonomous, single literacy is replaced by multiliteracies (see, e.g., New London Group). We have to be literate "across a various and complex network of different kinds of writing and various media of communication" (Scholes 130). Apart from basic skills we also need to obtain "rhetorical techniques of interpretation that can be applied to a variety of cultural texts" (Berube 25). In this article, we suggest rhetorical perspectives and techniques to deal with ongoing changes in media, changes which affect both the cultural sphere and education. Above all, we have to be aware of the rhetorics of change. As far as educational discourse is concerned, the emergence of a new technology has always inspired newcomers to argue that education will be fundamentally transformed and schools would ultimately lose their relevance. As far as culture and the arts are concerned, some argue that new media will change all the cultural institutions (library, museum, concert hall, bookshop etc.), the function and practices of art and (cultural) habits. Debate about change is often organized and perceived as a dichotomy: conservative humanists warn about the dehumanizing effect of the digital revolution, while progressives promise a new world. A new emerging model of culture creates a debate between nostalgia and hype, between enthusiasm and resistance (see, e.g., Buckingham about new media and education). We argue that such a dichotomy neglects the fundamental links between "new" and "old" media: old and new forms are remixed continuously and create multimodal perspectives. Moreover, the prefix "multi" can be replaced by "inter": intermediality and interliteracy are concepts suggesting the need for a meta-perspective to overcome polarization. As far as art is concerned, the digital turn in art implies that new media art practices need their own grammar and aesthetics. To illustrate our argumentation, we will focus on computer games, "a new art form, one largely immune to traditional tools developed for the analysis of literature and film, video games will challenge us to develop new analytical tools" (Gee 58). Focusing on youth culture is inspired by the idea that children are fascinated by computers (Papert, The Connected Family 80). Indeed, it seems that young people teach themselves new skills with greater ease than an older generation while also develop future genres and literacies differently from what the elders had foreseen: "Children are at the epicenter of the information revolution, ground zero of the digital world" (Katz 1). On the one hand, while student-centered education is of course not new, on the other hand some argue that today the roles between teacher and student have been problematized as never before. Especially, because we have the impression that the times are changing at a fast pace, a younger generation seems better "wired" to participate in a new emerging culture. It seems to be an advantage not to be hindered by prejudice nor tradition (De Kerckhove, Connected Intelligence vii). What we can learn from research and for teaching from this perspective is that a major technique for finding new knowledge and understanding new practices may be depriving us "of available knowledge in the search for new knowledge" (Burke, Permanence and Change 121). This is another way of stressing the fact that de-familiarization is essential to be open for change. Teachers should become researchers or--as Seymour Papert argues--anthropologists: "he or she needs to understand which trends are taking place in our culture. Meaningful intervention must take the form of

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