Wednesday, September 22, 2010

EXP Podcast #96: Portal Pedagogy

For many folks, September means having to relinquish the last strands of summer and head back to school. However, trading the couch for the classroom doesn’t mean you have to abandon video games. This week, we are pleased to welcome Michael Abbott of The Brainy Gamer and Wabash College to the show. Michael is in the process of launching “Enduring Questions,” a course “devoted to engaging students with fundamental questions of humanity from multiple perspectives and fostering a sense of community.” In addition to more traditional texts, some sections of the course will have Portal on the syllabus. We were thrilled to learn this and invited Michael to join us in discussing the course, how video games function as academic texts, and the challenges involved in teaching games.

Some discussion starters:

- Have you ever taken any classes in which video games were on the syllabus? What games would work well as teaching tools, and for what subjects?

- Establishing gaming literacy is challenging. How is critical playing best taught? How did you learn to analyze games?

- What kinds of challenges arise from using games in the classroom? How do we overcome things like generational stratification in regards to certain genres or games in general?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking the title. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 1 hr 2 min 28 sec
- “Portal on the booklist,” by Michael Abbott, via The Brainy Gamer
- “Portal and the Deconstruction of the Institution,” by Daniel Johnson, via Gamasutra
- “In Search of History’s Best Video Games: Canon Fodder, Season 2,” by Stephen Totilo, via Kotaku
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. Great podcast, guys. Interesting to Michael on the other side of the microphone. :-)

    (Also, Brad Sucks is the man.)

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Dan! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Also, I second your Brad Sucks love.

  3. Great podcast. It only made me wish the VGHVI Portal night had turned out differently - I let it get out of hand, and in retrospect there's so much I would have liked to have talked about!

  4. You guys are the best. I greatly enjoyed our chat, and I especially appreciate the time you spent prepping for it. I've whittled down the podcasts I regularly follow to a small handful, but Experience Points will always be on that list. Thanks for inviting me on, and thanks for facilitating such an enjoyable conversation.

  5. I picked this up via Michael's site, listened today, and really loved it. Wonderful show guys.

  6. Hey a quick question about what you guys implied, in passing, you can study games in Australia. You seemed surprised that you can study it at a tertiary level.

    I'm studying games in Australia at the moment, I find your podcasts incredibly enjoyable and insightful on my daily commutes.

    Hopefully this first post breaks the ice so I can comment more,

    Thanks to Michael for joining in!

  7. Found this site via Michael. As for the podcast... let's just say I am now a subscriber =)

  8. Thanks for all the great comments and welcome to all the new listeners. It's always great to hear new voices. We'll keep putting out episodes and we hope you keep enjoying them.

  9. I'm working on the Hamlet/Portal thing you requested. Give me a day or two.

  10. Let me also thank everybody for their comments and for listening! It's great to have you all along for the ride.

    As to your question Cameron: video game studies (especially at the Bachelor level) is still rare in many research and liberal arts universities in the US. When I first started writing about games and interacting with other folks on the Internet, I was quite pleasantly surprised to find that Australia seemed to have a comparatively thriving academic gaming community. I'd be interested to see how all that got started, but I suppose it's a project for another day.

    Also, ESP:

    That post looks amazing and now that I'm caught up with other life stuff, I'm looking forward to reading it!