Kathie Gossett, Andrea Davis, and Carrie Lamanna (unfortunately, John Walter was unable to make it) began their panel with a quotation from Winifred Bryan Horner’s introduction to John Frederick Reynolds’ book Rhetorical Memory and Delivery: “We need to re-think rhetorical memory and delivery as pertaining to new media.” Their panel explored some of the ways in which memory and delivery could be re-thought in relation to new media.
Kathie’s presentation title was “Remembering When: the Temporal Mechanics of Multimodal Composing.” We’re familiar with the traditional modes of composing, Kathie asserted: visual, textual, aural. However, she proposed a perhaps previously underconsidered mode of expression: the temporal.
When they mock-fight, Zeugma always goes to the ground. If my dining room’s the Octagon, Zeugma’s my Hoyce Gracie. Tink, while more tentative, has her own moves, and she’s good about cornering and using those front paws in conjunction with her weight: she’ll get in close to put Zeugma down, which Zeugma’s willing to do and go to work with the hind legs, but then she’ll break contact and go for the high ground, usually the arm of the chair, and whap Zeugma around the face from the stand-off distance.
Doug Eyman, the chair, introduced the panel (the full title being “Reading and Writing Virtual Realities”) by describing his excitment not just about writing about games in our composition courses, but about writing in games. In fact, Doug noted, one of the chief concerns of the panel was not just with reading games as texts, but with reading how games work and can work in writing instruction.
Stephanie Vie’s presentation was first. She described an activity she had developed for a tech writing course, based on the conventional and long-standing genre of writing a set of instructions. Many of us may be familiar with asking students to write a paper explaining how to make a peanut butter sandwich, or perform some similar task. Stephanie noted that many of her students are gamers, and so decided to ask them to work in groups to produce collaboratively-authored game walkthroughs that would instruct another group how to make it to a specific point in a game of their choice. The students chose games like Tomb Raider, Half Life, and Metal Gear Solid; ones that had interesting plots and characters and multiple ways of achieving certain objectives. Stephanie assigned them to groups of 3 or 4, and the groups’ first assignment was to figure out what point in the game to play to and how, specifically, to play the game. The method of gameplay was a specific requirement of the assignment: they couldn’t just play randomly, but had to choose whether to try to play most efficiently, to achieve the objective in the least amount of time, to amass the most points or kills or treasure or experience, or to complete specific in-game quests. Stephanie then had the students negotiate group dynamics in very particular ways, particularly given that some students were more skilled at the games and some less so, and that some were more interested and some less so.
Arrived late yesterday morning after a 6 AM flight, in time for an early lunch and a nap, some exploring around NOLA’s central business district, and then a wonderful late dinner and live cajun music at Mulate’s. My hotel’s accomodations came at well under
half one third of the price of the conference hotel, and the same could unfortunately be said of their quality: my first room had a Bartleby view through a single narrow window of chicken-wire security glass, with the barest dim daylight at noon, so I asked for another, and got a room with burned-out light bulbs and walls that shake when the door closes. But it’s got daylight, at least, despite the rather primitive facilities. After scant sleep before my flight, I hoped to catch up last night before helping to facilitate our all-day workshop today on course management systems, but given the room and impending workshop, I dreamed all night of my room’s electric, plumbing, HVAC, robotic maintenance, audio-visual, computing, and high-tech surveillance systems being managed by BlackBoard and WebCT. Like a dream of the opposite of being watched over by machines of loving grace, punctuated by sudden stirrings, awakenings, BlackBoard flushing the toilet next door, eCollege huffing its automated iron over my closet-hanging clothes, WebCT bitterly cycling the ice machine.
The workshop went fine. Good presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on guidance all around, even on BlackBoard and WebCT (I spoke not a word of their nocturnal activities), and I think Dennis and I did well, as well, on open-source and alternative solutions. It was a long day, though, and afterwards up into the skyward suites of the conference hotel to chat with some people I hadn’t seen in a while and then to Bourbon Street and back again. So I’m here, seeing familiar faces, going to panels tomorrow, hoping to make the time to take notes.