During the opening module of my MA studies, I had the opportunity to consider the implications of multimodal production in the classroom particularly within the discourse of computing and the debate surrounding the narrative of ‘learning to code’ in schools. Using Burn and Durran’s “3Cs” model of media literacy (2007) and a social semiotic approach, my analysis shows how modes (visual, spatial, aural, ludic and code) are woven together and examines how creativity through game design brings about opportunities to draw on ‘cultural capital’.
The current version of the software, MissionMaker Macbeth, was developed in collaboration with the British Library, led by Professor Andrew Burn and UCL’s MAGiCAL project and enables users, typically middle school students (age 11-14), to make games based on Shakespeare’s play. Unlike the popular visual programming language of Scratch (MIT), MissionMaker allows users to author complex first-person role-playing games (RPG) with little or no experience of coding or design in 3D environments. MissionMaker has been referred to as a ‘low floor’ tool (Burke and Kafai 2014, De Paula et al, 2017) as it presents a simplified however this claim has been contested with a number of students struggling to grasp the workflow as documented by Ferreira during the Beowulf project (2015).
‘George and the Dragon: Sewer Mission’ was created by the author over the course of a week as a production exercise on the Digital Theory module on the Digital Media in Education Masters course at UCL. The brief was to design a ‘dragon’ game which included pop-ups, media objects, sound and music. The game was designed with the legend of George and the Dragon as the central narrative theme which served to define the playing character’s (George) motivation and objectives: to kill the dragon, save a town and rescue the princess. In the Making Games project (2007), Buckingham and Burn introduce the children to Propp’s character types which is also relevant here. The protagonist, George, is the hero and the Dragon is the villain or in gaming terms the boss. The Princess sought by the hero and typically seen very little of in the story also fulfils Propp’s definition (Propp, 1927). The game presents a subterranean, rat-infested maze of sewers beneath Westminster where packs of zombie-like ‘Brexiteers’ and ‘Remainers’ loiter. George must navigate through the tunnels whilst avoiding either political point of view and track down and defeat the Dragon, rescue the princess and before escaping the gutter and returning to the safety of the London streets. I spent approximately ten hours creating the game.
To what extent does the process of creative production in MissionMaker bridge the growing gap between the divisions of computing and creative media production?
My essay discussing this question is available to view here.