Video Game Unit with PS2

I have finally gotten around to getting a printed quote from my local games retailer for TWO pre-owned black PS2 consoles.  Now I can get the cheque drawn from school and with the pink PS2 I am also getting next week, finally have enough equipment ready to begin my Video Games Unit with year 9 next term!

I am planning a short, 5 week unit for my Gifted & Talented year 9 class based around video games.  This will be the first time I have taught Video Games in school, and if it is successful it will form the basis of a forum I am running with Darcy at the ETA annual conference.

What I currently have in mind is a series of lessons for the first 3 weeks where students hear a mini lecture and participate in class discussion before breaking out into structured ‘workstation’ activities.  I will probably only give these ‘mini lectures’ one in every two lessons – each time we focus on a new aspect of the unit.  Three weeks will give me 15 x 80 minute lessons, in which I would love to cover:

  • video games as a legitimate ‘text’
  • genre in video games
  • gender issues (gendered avatars, worlds, audiences, marketing etc.)
  • violence in games & classification systems
  • video games and the media
  • games and fan fiction

In the final 2 weeks of the unit I was thinking of getting the students to develop their own games-related research questions.  They would use the 2 weeks mixing independent work on their research question with the composition of a range of set pieces of writing based on the games they had played in class or at home.

So, any ideas for what I can teach?

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  1. #1 by nb on June 23, 2008 - 9:13 pm

    It sounds amazing. Wow. What a fantastic idea. What games are you going to use? How many kids are in the class?

  2. #2 by kelli on June 24, 2008 - 9:20 pm

    Not 100% sure of the games until I can go shopping and see what’s on sale 🙂 But, I was thinking of getting a few games across different ‘genres’:
    * car racing (maybe a ‘Need For Speed’)
    * sport (FIFA?)
    * adventure (Lara Croft Tomb Raider)
    * plus one more, perhaps I can find something from Lord of the Rings, or I’d like to get a first person shooter game, but not sure if any are low enough in rating!

    It’s a class of 16 year 9 ‘gifted and talented’ kids. Should be fun!

  3. #3 by nb on June 25, 2008 - 4:39 pm

    What about something like the Sims? I think there is a version of it for ps2. It would be an interesting contrast, particularly for looking at gender and audience, etc.

  4. #4 by darcymoore on June 26, 2008 - 5:50 am

    Remember those examples of narrative in video games that Mike Jones gave at the 2005 conference during his keynote? Here’s some of his podcasts of lectures:

  5. #5 by kellimcgraw on June 29, 2008 - 12:57 pm

    thx Darcy – that was they keynote that really got me excited about video games in English 🙂 I hadn’t been back to the podcast in ages. Ah Mike, so, so very good.

  6. #6 by kellimcgraw on June 29, 2008 - 1:38 pm

    You know, I never got the hang of the Sims…I had it once on PC and found it really boring! I can see how it would fit into this unit though, thanks for the idea! I’m going to see what’s on sale at the shops tomorrow (hopefully all the best games have not sold out already).

  7. #7 by Katy on July 1, 2008 - 7:22 pm

    Are you going to look at how video games appropriate the stories that they are based on? Whether video games enable the individual to think about the narrative in a different way? The images used and the way they encourage the viewer to develop crude stereotypes about characters?

    What about the way that video games reinforce dominant discourses about society’s values – what do the good and bad people look like and symbolise? I would actually look at the features and evolution of the fantasy genre (including the good/evil struggle, the elements of an imagined world, the us of symbolism) and how the creators of video games explore and push the boundaries of this genre in their creation. Can a game ever really be interactive, or do video games limit our ability to imagine or engage with the stories they seek to represent or present?

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