Mr. Moo's First RPG: Rules, Discussion and the Instructional Implications of Collective Intelligence on the Open Web

Trevor Owens

For a moment, imagine an active online learning community of writers, artists, and designers, many spending more than eight hours a week composing projects. In this community, young people, primarily between the ages of 18-26, regularly critique, facilitate, and support each other in their composition activities. They are motivated to participate by their shared interest and affinity for their creative work. In the age of Wikipedia, this might not seem particularly novel, but what I am actually describing is an online discussion board, RPGmakerVX.net. Elsewhere, I have presented a general outline of the kinds of individuals involved in this community and the way that the site as a whole functions as an open learning environment (Owens, 2010). In this essay, I present a case study of one participant in this community. His user name is Mr. Moo, and at the time I interviewed him, he was a 19 year old college student from Calgary, Canada. When he created his first role-playing game, Prelude of Identity, he was eighteen. After providing a conceptual context for this case study in work on collective intelligence, I draw out the relationship between the technical system of the discussion boards and the creative process of engaging with peers in the production of a video game. I suggest that the discussion board rules and interaction enable a dialogue around composition that ultimately leaves Mr. Moo with a valuable learning experience while also producing a role-playing game. Thinking about this system from the perspective of collective intelligence enables us to use these kinds of interest-driven, online affinity communities as tools in an open education tool kit for educators in more formal learning environments. Ultimately, discussion boards in gaming communities, both the technical and social systems they represent, could be thought of as instructional tools.

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