In the Spring of 2018, I taught a special emphasis/service-learning designated section of Sophomore Composition, titled “Why Video Games Matter: Identity, Representation, and Community.” The syllabus for the course can be found by clicking here.
I chose the theme “Video Games: Identity, Representation, and Culture” for this course because it allows for a critical engagement with one of the most popular mediums of the 21st century, and a medium many students have engaged with in some form. Considering video games as historical and cultural texts forces students to think critically about the ideologies and rhetorical situations they encounter daily, while also providing them with the means to respond to these encounters academically, professionally, and persuasively.
Furthermore, because the video game and other digital media industries are ever-growing, this theme provides students with specific communication skills they may require should they pursue further study of digital media while in college, or should they pursue careers in the digital media industry after graduation.
To fufill the service-learning component of the course, students volunteered as a video game reviewer for the AbleGamers Foundation, “a nonprofit charity that aims to improve the overall quality of life for those with disabilities through the power of video
games” (AbleGamers.com). Students composed, revised, and submitted reviews (Remix: Evaluative Argument) for a video game of their choosing, and evaluated the game based on accessibility, entertainment, and identity representation to AbleGamers. By doing so, students (1) produced written work of direct use to the foundation and the disabled community at large, and (2) engaged in and grew to appreciate the importance and value of composition.
In ENGL 2000 Why Video Games Matter: Identity, Representation, and Community, students will discover how video games are socio-political argumentative texts which make claims about the physical world. Students will discuss, analyze, and compose argumentative essays about video game industry related topics, exploring both the communities created from video game culture, (including let’s players,
cosplayers, and “gamer” culture) and the communities creating and using video games as cultural artifacts (including games which feature disabled characters, indigenous characters, non-binary and/or queer characters, etc.). The purpose of this course is to advance students’ writing skills in a variety of academic, professional, and public genres, with an emphasis on research and argumentation. This class includes a service-learning component that gives students an opportunity to achieve course goals through hands-on experience, as we compose accessibility-based reviews for an actual video game charity, AbleGamers.