Monday, April 12, 2004

Sami Games
I am partially involved in the creation of a sami educational game, Siida (all in Norwegian. I had expected it to be in sami, too). I am in their reference group, which so far has meant that they have my name and title on their applications for money. Wednesday Britt Kramvig, one of the initiators of the project and a cultural anthropologist specialising on sami culture, came to see me at Gardermoen, Oslo Airport.

The project is ambitious and interesting. They want to make a role-playing game based on sami culture and myths. This way they are to teach this culture in a way that lets kids and youths have fun while they learn. This is an admirable goal, and in theory this should work out great. The problem I keep having with this kind of games is that it seems like traditional pedagogics always crash with the pleasure of playing. Games are not a good medium if you want to get one particular message across. What they may be good for is to communicate different logical structures.

The developers of Siida have invited me to contribute to this project through research. One project I might follow up was the thought that struck me immediately: I would like to study how teachers and educators think about games, and how this clashes with the culture of the technical staff, the developers of the software. This is however a very complex issue that has little to do with gaming, mainly with game culture. But if I get into a study of gaming in this case, either I will be doing user testing, which I am not all that enchanted with, or I will have to involve myself a bit more than I have been invited to this far. Going into somebody else's project is always a delicate issue.

Still, this is a fascinating topic and I look forwards to follow the development of the project. And if nothing else, I'll stay on their list as an advicer. I am also avidly reading their material about sami culture. That should have been a part of my own cultural inheritance, but prejudice and coincidence wanted it otherwise.

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