April 25th, 2007

Influencing Academia?

Exciting news: I’ve been asked to teach more courses next year than I actually have time for! Four are at or around Columbia, in basic or advanced game design. The others are at NYU, with one on “Designing for Groups” and the other about, I hope, role-playing games and my own research on narrative. All of them potentially rock, but I can only do so much teaching and still hope to get my dissertation going. Still, it’s really exciting that there’s so much demand. It gives me hope for my future career!

The other moment that made me go, “Ooh!” today was the final project for my cognitive psychology course. The assignment? Design a game that gets players using at least three different thinking skills. I love it that game design is slowly penetrating the academic mainstream! Now I just have to figure out how to produce deductive, inductive and abductive reasoning skills in play.

You Know You’ve Hit The Big Time When …

… you’re featured in your high-school newsletter.

Okay, for me that’s a bit more complicated of a relationship than most people. I went to a hardcore Orthodox Jewish school from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The school encouraged both academic excellence and strict adherence to religious law. (Out of my class of fifty students, I think there are ten doctors - and another ten who already have four or more children. What’s really hardcore is that some of those groups overlap.) While it was good to be smart, it was even better to be smart, obedient, religious and not too independent.

I, on the other hand, am iconoclastic, rebellious and fierce. Furthermore, the work that I’m doing is so far from mainstream I didn’t even know there was a stream! So the idea that I - a thirty-year-old unmarried woman, in a relationship with someone who is converting to Judaism, a game designer, studying storytelling in play - could be featured in my high-school newsletter was a really big deal to me.

For so many years, I believed that I was somehow wrong to want a life that didn’t involve subordinating my own desires to the desires of my community. I had no idea that it was possible to have a different kind of life, because in my school, the choices you were offered were so narrow. Prestigious, yes, but very narrow. Do you want to be a doctor or a lawyer? Do you want to have three kids or four? Do you want to stay home and watch the kids while your husband goes to synagogue, or sit in the women’s section and watch the kids while he prays? The only option seemed to be wading through my life neck-deep in misery - until I realized that I had to get out and make a life on my own terms.

Maybe some young girl will read this article and ask herself, as I finally did, “How can I make a life for myself that is my own?” If she does, I hope she gets in touch with me.

And Then Again …

… sometimes you read through the rest of the newsletter, and realize the article about you is right next to the following:

[Fellow Alum] also mentions that a commercial board game and computer game have followed his books on Edenics, which he describes as “a new branch of linguistics with evidence that Proto-Semitic was designed and diversified by a suprahuman intelligence.”

Oy vey.