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In winter 2018/19 and summer semester 2019 I taught courses on archaeogaming and concepts of the past in computer and video games. I am proud to share with you the videos my students created, in which they analyse games of their choosing. Have a look!

The first course I co-taught with Jan Wieners at the University of Cologne. You might have read the blog posts (part 1, part 2, part 3) describing the discussion about concepts of the past in computer and video games, which we had with several experts. What I mentioned, but didn’t share yet, is that at the end of the semester the students created short videos (“a kind of Let’s Plays”), in which they present results of their analyses for a broader public.

Now the second course, this time given just by me and at the University of Bonn, has just come to an end and again it was a blast! The students developed really well thought out videos and I realized it was time to share them.

I’m sorry to any non-German speaker whom I may just have made excited… they are in German.

In winter 2018/19 the students of the University of Cologne produced videos (playlist) discussing Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey, Anno 1404, Kingdom Come Deliverance, The Settlers II, Far Cry Primal, Kid Icarus Uprising, 0 A.D., Hellblade – Senuas Sacrifice and Total War Rome 2.

This semester the students from University Bonn developed a further eight videos: They focused on Civilizations VI, Far Cry IV, Tomb Raider (2013), Dawn of Man, Age of Mythology, Europa Universalis IV, Assassin’s Creed I and also on Total War Rome 2.

The feedback received by both groups concerning this assignment is similar: They are excited to get such a creative task and to share their results with a broader audience. Usually they are already familiar with the concept of Let’s Plays or at least YouTube, so the object of the assignment is clear to them and they are happy be able to “edutain” fellow players. Most of them handle the video cutting software quite easily and manage to achieve good video and audio quality. On the other hand if asked to define the content of their videos by themselves they may need additional feedback and consulting, whether their ideas are good (though they usually are). This step was much easier for the second group as they were able to watch the videos created by the first group and decide what they thought worked well, what didn’t and what they also wanted to implement and what not. Also Jan and I didn’t provide such a clear space for students to ask for feedback as I did in the second group. I, too, am learning in each course…

Both times I raised the question whether they wanted to use their real names in the videos or not. All students decided to remain anonymous, used an existing user-name or just used their first names. I belief it is an important decision to not make for them, as self-representation on the internet should be a matter of personal choice.

One truly difficult point remaining is time management. Asking students to produce videos at the end of the semester means they have a lot of additional work at a time they also need to prepare for exams. I have not yet found a good way around this, because we need to develop some groundwork and content together during the course before it is sensible to let them start on the videos. This semester I reserved the last 4 weeks for the Let’s Plays (one week development of scripts, one session discussing those, one on audio recording / free work, last session: video show). The semester before, students had another two weeks after the lecture period to finish their videos. The set date at which the video needs to be finalized is actually determined by the study regulations, because officially every academic achievement needs to be handed in before I can grant the students the “course accomplished” title and enroll them in exams, if they so wish. And this needs to happen until a certain date. Also, experience shows that some don’t find the time any more after lectures finish, because summer jobs start, some are on excavation, hopefully all of them at some point on holidays. So, developing the videos during lecture period is sensible in some regards, but really hard to do for the students as well. This semester one group didn’t manage and last semester there are videos I believe could have been improved by more time available.

Maybe next time we could develop very short videos about each topic the week right after we discussed it. This would result in a lot of very short videos, which is a different kind of result than aimed for this time. I will need to mull over this problem some more, but at the moment I am not planning another course on archaeogaming (unless you want to employ me for it? 😉 ).

Now, what do you think about the videos? Please comment on YouTube, I know the students will be delighted!

What are your thoughts about this task in general? Is it a good idea to have students making YouTube – videos? Do you have any ideas how to improve the experience?

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About the author

My name is Sophie, I am a prehistoric archaeologist and have been research associate at the University of Bonn and the Cologne Digital Archaeology Lab (CoDArchLab) of the Archaeological Institute at the University of Cologne, Germany. I teach statistics for archaeologists, work on new methods in settlement archaeology (GIS, geostatistics in R and stuff) and am interested in archaeogaming.

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