Learn about games for the college crowd at ThatCamp Games 2013 at CWRU

Assigning college students to play games may sound like an unusual teaching method. But more than 70 college professors and museum educators from around the country will participate in an event at Case Western Reserve University called ThatCamp Games 2013, a boot camp to learn about using and designing games for education.

The event, April 19-21, is free and open to the public, but registration is required because space is limited. Visit 2013.thatcampgames.org for details, schedule and registration. Events take place at the Kelvin Smith Library on Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday in Clark Hall.

ThatCamp, which stands for The Humanities and Technology Camp, was founded in 2008 by George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media. It evolved from the digital humanities movement that combines education and new technology, such as the increasingly popular online courses.

“Games may be fun. They also demonstrate if students grasped the course concepts,” said William Deal, interim chair of the Department of Cognitive Sciences and professor of religious studies. “A game requires intensive work in research, designing and testing it before its final stages. And, like writing a paper, students have to know the subject to write the right rules for playing the game.”

Deal and Lee Zickel, digital humanities manager at the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, are the event’s coordinators.

This is Case Western Reserve’s first time hosting the event, which is different than your typical conference. Presentations at this camp are referred to as “short dorks” limited to three minutes—long enough to give one line or two about what the project is and a Web address for more information.

In Deal’s “Morality and the Mind” course, teams of students design games instead of writing final papers. He has found that students take ownership of these games and want them returned, possibly to develop further.

ThatCamp workshops will offer opportunities for participants to design their own games. An open game room allows people to choose from more than 50 games to play while discussing.

Even sponsors are: Case Western Reserve’s Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, Information Technology Services and the Kelvin Smith Library. Community sponsors are: Microsoft Research, Atlas Games, Looney Labs, Fantasy Flight Games and Rio Grande Games.