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First Editions: Members of the TC Community in Print

Looking Back On Life  As It Could Be

Robbie McClintock envisions an idyllic post-industrial world made possible by a digital commons

The cyber revolution is the subtext of Robbie McClintock’s intriguing new book, Enough:  A Pedagogic Speculation, which is equal parts fiction, anthropology and philosophy.

Enough’s premise: It is 2162. Three generations have passed since “the Stabilization”—a leveling off of the world’s population accompanied by a massive reaction against materialism, environmental endangerment, corporate fascism and the concentration of wealth and power among elites. Bickering nations have been supplanted by a harmonious global city-state, and the marketplace by a “commons” of shared ideas and resources. People have become disillusioned with the imperative to produce and consume. They live according to an ethos of “enough”—a moderate zone where “honest equals… care for natural resources, the human mind, and the social infrastructure.”

McClintock, who retired last spring after 44 years on TC’s  faculty, argued two years ago in this magazine that digital resources have become “infinitely reproducible without diminishing quality and at negligible cost,” resulting in a “digital commons” that favors communal production, shared resources and a general shift “away from mine and thine.” Through the fictional device of looking back at such a shift, Enough seeks “not to marvel at a utopian world to come, but to give ourselves some perspective on our own.” Above all, the book articulates McClintock’s passionate belief that education should be a learner-driven process of self-formation. The book ends with the assertion, from Plato’s Republic, that “The soul of every man does possess the power of learning the truth and the organ to see it with.”

Enough is available in paperback and hardback through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.

Virtual Virtue

What games can teach us about making  ethical decisions

ask about the moral issues raised by digital  games, and most people will talk about the violence in “Grand Theft Auto” or “Red Dead Redemption.” But many games also require users to act for good or evil.  Make off with the loot or save the village?  Be the self-sacrificing hero—or grab for all you can get?

“Play has always been a way to allow people to experiment with other perspectives, to reenact scenarios and possibilities, to practice collaborating and competing,” writes TC alumna Karen Schrier in the preface to Designing Games for Ethics: Models, Techniques, and Frameworks, which she co-edited with David Gibson (Premier Reference Source, 2011). “Games may be particularly well-suited to the practice and development of ethical thinking [because] they enable players to reflect on their decisions and outcomes, and allow them to consider the implications of their choices, without many of the risks of real-world consequences.”

Both in this volume and its predecessor, Ethics and Game Design: Teaching Values through Play, Schrier, Assistant Professor of Communication at Marist College, and Gibson, Research Assistant Professor in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, University of Vermont, ask: What do games tell us about our ethics? How are cultural values and beliefs represented in games?  How do we use games in classrooms and informal educational settings to support moral development?

Schrier, who studied with TC technology professor Charles Kinzer, points out that commercial developers are themselves increasingly integrating overt moral choices into off-the-shelf games.  Recounting a dream in which she was a jewel thief, she writes:  “Games have the potential to engage the imagination in a way that you feel like you really are a jewel thief, or a renegade, or a paragon, or any of the millions of possibilities in between. Being able to access the diversity of ethical perspectives is perhaps even necessary for fully appreciating humanity, life and beyond.”

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