Blog Post

Introduction/Work in Progress

This is my first entry with HASTAC. I'll cross-post this on my personal blog as well. I want to introduce myself and give everybody an overview of the work I'm currently involved in. I'm very interested in sharing ideas and collaborating with other HASTAC folks.

I'm a second-year PhD student in rhetoric and composition through the English Department of the University of South Carolina (or USC East, if you prefer.) I found HASTAC originally through Amanda Phillips, whom I met at the Humanities Gaming Institute at USC East two summers ago. The institute (HGI) brought together scholars from a number of disciplines to discuss serious games and workshop potential gaming projects. We were fortunate to bring together some fantastic speakers -- Tracy Fullerton, Ian Bogost, Anne Balsamo -- as well as both established scholars like Alex Reid and new scholars like me.

From HGI, one project emerged that really seemed to have potential as a digital game: Desperate Fishwives. Desperate Fishwives was initially conceived by Auguta State University historian and gamer geek, Ruth McClellan-Nugent, as a board game about community interaction in early modern England. A small group from HGI, including Ruth, me, programmer John Hodgson, and faculty mentors Duncan Buell and Heidi Rae Cooley, formed to rethink the game as a digital artifact. We were very happy to be able to use NEH grant funds to begin the work, and we've been even happier to receive a second grant from the NEH to continue the work on the game. I'll talk more about the game more in-depth in another post soon, but in a nutshell, the game allows up to nine players to enact pre-generated characters within a mid-size 17th century town. The characters are faced with a problem emerging in their town and must use their skills to gain enough resources to enact social rituals that will avert the crisis.

In addition to Desperate Fishwives, I'm also starting work on a second project, tentatively called Ghosts of South Carolina College. The initial work I'm doing on that is part of a class on serious games here, but I also plan to propose a grant for futher development. Ghosts of SC College aims to bring the largely unknown history of slavery at USC into view by making visible members of the antebellum college community and enabling participants to engage with them. Currently, we are considering asking the participants to select an ethnicity when they launch the application and having the ghosts react differently based on that choice. The ghosts will also be programmed on various timers, so that the images will not always be available; we plan to have a social media forum as part of the application that will allow participants to post when and where they have encountered a ghost.

Okay, I think that's it for now. I'm really excited to hear about what other folks are up to, and I'll update progress on both of the projects soon!

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