Last night the College of Arts and Letters at Northern Arizona University coordinated a “Humanities in Action” event to demonstrate and share the many different ways students, staff and faculty in humanities disciplines create amazing projects. I participated in presenting the VonStrausheimer Mystery game.
As part of this *presentation* I answered questions, and held discussion with many participants, students and faculty who attended to present their own projects, or to understand the humanities better (or, let’s face it were required to be there for various reasons). What I found very enjoyable about this question session was the informality allowed space for students (especially grad students) to feel comfortable asking good questions about game design, and the inclusion of games to inspire learning. I had a few undergrads who were clearly game players interested in entering the field of game design – but most questions came from interested educators who were arguably wary of inclusion of games just for the sake of games. I fielded questions about empirical evidence for the inclusion of games, the variety of clues/puzzles and learning outcomes associated with those clues/puzzles, the larger contexts ARGs could be used, the difficulty in integrating ARGs in those larger contexts, the use of ARGs in classroom……such fantastic questions. Ultimately, I hope instructors learned, or consider the many ways students are willing to engage with learning, and the way real-world problems can be and are regularly addressed by humanitarians.
Why humanities you ask……because we care about the human condition!
This was by far the most common phrase, and the most important phrase circulating at the event yesterday. I hope many take this idea to heart. To solve real-world problems humanities majors should be involved, consulted. We may not be able to code a website (although some of us can and many of us can figure it out), we can ask the questions that need to be asked to ensure possible approaches, outcomes, ideas fit the needs assessed for solving the problem!