News from Room 402 / Early January 2012

Above: Storyboarding Dim Sum Documentaries in Sixteen, late December

Since the last post, our DonorsChoose project for whiteboard markers was funded and IdeaPaint installed 500 sq ft of whiteboard-surfaced walls throughout the 4th floor (check it out on YouTube here); we held final presentations for cartography, design and Sixteen; and we started a new trimester. I’m now teaching new sections of game design and Sixteen, and am advising approximately 60 senior projects.

Game Design: We spent our first week together playing games, working on our own definition of what a game is, and completing Challenge #1, which asks participants to create a race-to-the-finish board game. We’re now working on Challenge #2, which involves thinking more carefully about game mechanics – the action that players are engaged in throughout the game – and how those match with different themes. Up next, we’ll be taking a look at the balance of chance and skill in games, and how that balance affects “fun”-ness.

Sixteen: We started the course by reading the classic “Nacirema” essay to begin our thinking about what it means to be Sixteen (or “neetxiS”). We took a field trip to Jing Fong to experience dim sum, and students documented those experiences in ethnographic films. (See this example from Zineb, Nilufa and Brittany for an idea of what that was like: Over the winter break, students completed cultural probes activities that asked them to document small pieces of their lives in images – for example, their bedrooms, their meals, and their outfits. We’ll begin this week by analyzing those artifacts, and creating short videos to describe the patterns of “16-ness” that are revealed in those images.

Senior Projects: Seniors enrolled in this course generally meet once per week in small groups to share + critique progress on their final projects, which they will present in late spring. We’re currently working toward a late-January “critique week,” tentatively scheduled for Regents week, where guest critics who work professionally in the fields these projects are situated in will come to the iSchool to hear presentations and offer feedback/guidance for the next two months of work.

Happy New Year!

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