This really is what happened to me with my video game project for Digital Writing Month. I had begun to create a game in which I was seeking to represent some of my ideas around digital writing. I was two and a half levels into the game design when I realized: this is not working. If you have never dipped your toes into game design, the use of symbolism is important, and here, as I tried to “represent” digital writing within a video game format, it just fell apart on me.
So, I rebooted.
I deleted all of that work and sat back down with an empty piece of paper (interesting how a digital project originates from the tried and true, isn’t it?) and came up with a new idea. This one has to do with a single level, in which the letters of the hashtag of #digiwrimo would have to be navigated. Each letter would have some sort of challenge but the player would have journey through or over the letters themselves. Meanwhile, I would add a bonus level down below the main game where one could experience Twitter vs. Zombies, and also a place of collaboration with sprites helping the player through a maze.
It worked, and I am still tinkering with the game, so it is not quite ready for primetime. BUT, check out the map that the site I use — Gamestar Mechanic — has added as a feature. This new tool allows you to get an image map of the levels of games that you create. Which is perfect for sharing in this case, since you can clearly see the DIGIWRIMO letters that form the centerpiece of my game.
A number of years ago, I remember reading an odd story told entirely in cancelled bank checks. I was inspired and created my own version of it at one time (need to find it) and this week, as part of Digital Writing Month, I thought about how we might use the format of text messaging to tell a story. I had this idea of a girl texting her parents about “losing it” – a phrase that brings up a few different connotations — and letting the message unfold until the meaning becomes clear.
Honestly, I don’t know how successful the story is. I had to add something later to the beginning, which may have ruined the flow of the story as I first told it. I am hoping the late addition added to it. But I did like how I had to think in terms of character, and medium, and the nuance of conversation in this format. It made for a tricky tale, told quickly with lots of narrative gaps. And the text message generator gave me a chance to write and kick out images that look like it really did unfold on a cell phone.
I really enjoyed a session at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting called Composing the Web, which began with a neat “toy hacking” activity and then moved into exploring the Mozilla Foundation’s suite of tools for remixing and creating content on the web. Using one of the activities on Thimble (a webpage creator of sorts), I created this quick “shout out” project using a claymation video my son and I had made.
What I like about these tools is that it puts more agency and understanding into the hands and fingertips of users (ie, our students) and can make clear the underlying code structure of our media-saturated world. Use Hackasaurus Xray Goggles, for example, and you can make visible the coding strategies of a website designer, AND then remix it for yourself. Thimble allows you to create and publish a website in minutes, and the new Popcorn video system is a robust video editor that opens the doors for all sorts of remixing content.
Which brought up a long discussion about copyright, ownership of content, and more in our session. In the end, there was some agreement (I think) that these tools are part of what digital literacy is about, and that we do a disservice to our young people if we don’t find ways for them to understand and use the web for creation. I don’t think we all agreed on all points, though, and that points to continued confusion over the remixing/hacking world in educational circles. (I am not clear, either).
But I am going to be bringing these tools into my class as part of a unit I am starting around media criticism — using Xray Goggles to hack a news site and then maybe Thimble to create an alternative news site, and then maybe even Popcorn video editor to annotate a news video. The ideas are still unfolding here ….
I spend a long, but amazing, day at the NCTE Convention yesterday, tweeting about my experiences as much as possible. Instead of re-writing those, I have toyed around with Storify to collect and assemble my tweets in the sessions. You’ll see that much of my focus was on digital composition.
The other day, I shared out a Google tool that allows you to have “characters” in a Google Doc “write” with each other. This video is from a related tool, in which you can collaborate with “masters” of literature – Shakespeare, Poe, Dickens, etc. Google captures the real-time writing in the document and kicks out a link. I did a videoshot of my writing with the tool and then layered in some audio reflections of the experience.