By Dalyn Luedtke, Assistant Professor of English
October 4, 2016
On May 4, Kate Donley, adjunct professor of English, and Dalyn Luedtke, assistant professor of English, hosted the EN 204 First Annual Game Night in the North and South Instruction Rooms of the Kreitzberg Library. For two hours, about 90 students from six sections of Professional and Technical Writing ran between rooms playing student-created games. The level of activity and excitement generated a lot of buzz on the mezzanine with even non-EN 204 students joining the fun.
It was, perhaps, an unusual end to a class that often focuses on traditional professional documents such as résumés, cover letters, memos, and reports. For the EN 204 final project, however, Professors Donley and Luedtke decided they wanted to develop a unique project that brings together the main themes of the course: collaboration, rhetorical analysis, design, and writing. Professor Donley emphasized the importance of such an approach saying, “It’s important for students to go beyond memorizing formats and adhering to writing formulas in professional writing contexts. They need to be able to address the expectations of their audience—whether they be colleagues, employers, or the public—and effectively assess what tools and genres best enable them to do so with clarity.”
Together, they developed the game unit, during which students pitched, designed, fabricated, packaged, and evaluated an original game. Within the context of the game unit, students were then asked to perfect more advanced technical writing skills like project management, beta tests, instructions, and usability reports. The culminating event of the unit was a game night whereby each group played at least two different games and observed another group playing their own game. The goal of these observations was to collect data about the effectiveness of their game design for the final user-experience memo.
The groups took diverse approaches to game development, producing a number of Norwich-themed games, trivia games (popular culture, cooking, etymology, and history), a role-playing card game, and even a board game that included tiny replicas of common gym-class activities. Judging by the laughter and animated discussion, students seemed to enjoy testing each other’s games. Spencer Duhamel ’18, the only English major in the course, said, “There was such a feeling of gratification after a group successfully played our game without our intervention. Overall, the project was a great success and opened my eyes to my niche in professional writing.” Given the enthusiastic responses of the students and the positive effect on course outcomes, game night is sure to become an annual tradition.