Brett Shelton, Ryan Moeller and Cheryl Ball
Games, Signs and Texts: Exploring Sustainable, Creative Learning
Environments Through Cultural Analysis and Localization
Brett Shelton, Ryan Moeller and Cheryl Ball, Utah State University
Thursday, September 29, 2005, 10:00-10:45 am
mp3 podcast Right click and 'Save Target As' for manual download
This presentation explicates a common research strand being pursued by the three presenters within the Creative Learning Environments Laboratory at USU. The research strand centers on the cultural impact of technological texts and investigates how technological texts change cultural formations. The three speakers will focus on the production and analysis of a variety of open texts within and across their particular fi elds of study: rhetorics, emerging media and graphic representations.
The Creative Learning Environments Laboratory is a collaborative multimedia research space that spans inquiry across the Instructional Technology and English departments. A mission of the lab is in itself an exercise of “openness:” to use textual theories from a variety of methodological fi elds including rhetoric, computer science, art and design, literary studies, and education to broaden approaches of learning and teaching from single-departmental efforts into ones that include a variety of adaptable learning perspectives.
“ All your base are belong to us ” and other computer game faux pas
Ryan M. Moeller
The Learning Games Initiative (LGI), one project supported by the Creative Lab, seeks to demonstrate that computer games are complex, cultural artifacts that, not unlike movies, need to be considered across multiple cultural mapping points beyond language translation. Subsequently, computer games can be used as sustainable resources to teach and analyze culture. The example of Magnifi cent Seven’s success is one of localization: a product that has been designed to be adaptable to various linguistic, economic, visual, environmental, and cultural conditions based upon its context and use. This notion of making products usable and sustainable across cultural boundaries is applied to many different disciplines and industries where it is most often used to discuss strategies of globalization—areas such as software development, economics, web design, movie and television production, and education. Popular, Americanized television shows for children such as the Power Rangers or Pokémon from Japan and Hi-5 out of Australia demonstrate the sustainability and reusability of resources 139 from talent to stock video to sets and props to music and sound effects. And, in an example of localization gone wrong, the widely popular Pokémon video game was banned in Saudi Arabia for its use of Zionist imagery. The video game Zero Wing, produced for the Sega Genesis platform, demonstrated a poorly localized product in which a bad translation (“All your base are belong to us “ ”) resulted in hilarious media frenzy for English-speaking gamers. Thayer and Kolko (2004) have recently articulated a protocol for localizing computer games, bringing educational games and simulations into discussions of international media. The LGI builds on this idea, allowing students and researchers to use, analyze, and produce computer games and educational simulations to discover how to effectively communicate in localized and globalized situations. We argue that many times, cultural faux pas like the Pokémon and Zero Wing examples teach us more about culture than even good adaptations might. Investigating the cultural infl uence for interpreting graphical information Brett E. Shelton Noted educational technology researcher William Winn (1994) posed the following questions over a decade ago: to what extent are the conventions of graphics culture specifi c, and are the processes that enable detection, discrimination and confi guration universal? Based on these questions, we are researching how culture infl uences the interpretation of familiar signs (e.g., graphic representations used for “restroom” and “stop”), looking primarily at differences in how Koreans and North Americans interpret the meaning of graphical symbols outside of their familiar context. A second phase of research involves investigating the infl uence of context on the interpretation of meaning by offering certain signs in a variety of familiar and unfamiliar settings. The third phase targets the identifi cation of the graphical components of the signs used in Phase 1 and 2 by studying the features of the signs that held signifi cant meaning for viewers based on their cultural and contextual meanings. We are currently in the fi rst phase of research in this project, but we expect the fi ndings will help inform our understanding of how we interpret meanings from graphical representations and may impact the design of graphics in order to increase understanding in a variety of cultural and contextual instances.
Trans-cultural multimedia production in an English classroom
Cheryl E. Ball
In English studies, the past decade has seen a dramatic shift toward analysis and production of multimedia texts (c.f. Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Wysocki, Selfe, Johnson-Eilola, & Sirc, 2004). This shift is informed by the study of rhetoric, which we defi ne as reading and composing texts with an understanding of a specifi c audience, purpose, and context. In Dr. Ball’s Perspectives on Writing and Rhetoric class, students analyze creative multimodal texts using multiple reading strategies, and then compose their own texts. Although this generation of students is typically well-informed about technology, most of them have never encountered a digital, multimodal text whose purpose is primarily aesthetic. Studying the rhetorical situation in what literary theorists such as Eco and Rosenblatt would call an “open,” readerdriven, adaptable text provides a rich learning experience for students.In this class, students read several examples of open texts including “Murmuring Insects” (Ankerson, 2001), which successfully uses Eastern and Western multimodal elements—including written, aural, visual, animated, and other modes of communication—to juxtapose calm with fear while honoring the events of September 11, 2001. In this presentation, we show this piece in contrast to student-produced multimodal texts that attempt to adopt cultural contexts of other writers, often unsuccessfully. We conclude by suggesting why some students’ attempts at adaptation in these creative and social media are hindered by localized contexts. In addition, we demonstrate how students who don’t attempt to adapt their creative work to other’s contexts often make stronger rhetorical choices in their multimodal texts while still meeting the needs of various audiences.
Ankerson, I. (2001). Murmuring insects [Flash Player text]. Poems That Go. Retrieved September 19, 2003, from
Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (Eds.). (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures. New York: Routledge.
Thayer, A. & Kolko, B. (2004). Localization of digital games: The process of blending for the global games market. Technical Communication 51, 477-88.
Wiley, D. (2005). A discussion of cultural texts, adaptation, and 141 openness. Personal communication July 17, 2005 with Brett E. Shelton.
Winn, W. (1994). Contributions of perceptual and cognitive processes to the comprehension of graphics. In W. Schnotz & R. W. Kulhavy (Eds.), Comprehension of graphics: Elsevier Science.
Wysocki, A., Johnson-Eilola, J., Selfe, C., & Sirc, G. (2004). Writing new media: Theory and applications for expanding the teaching of composition. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press.