balancing agency together

“Resonant games are also designed for learning with others. Paradigms like cognitive apprenticeship, communities of practice, and communities of learners emphasize not only learning by doing, but by doing things together with others, often in carefully designed activities that balance the agency and self-direction of learners with an egalitarian spirit that encourages all to learn and to learn together.”

–  Eric Klopfer, Jason Haas, Scot Osterweil, and Louisa Rosenheck, Resonant Games: Design Principles for Learning Games that Connect Hearts, Minds, and the Everyday, 2019, Chapter 2

I just attended the first class of Eric Klopfer’s Design and Development of Games for Learning at MIT (11.127)! I really hope I get to take the class – it’s completely over-enrolled, so it’s unlikely – but I’m excited about it regardless. The quote above is part of a book the instructor has co-authored, and it addresses exactly the type of game I am trying to design for my thesis!

Existing participatory design practices, aren’t fully collaborative nor participatory. The game I intend to develop will facilitate learning and achieving consensus with others, and “balance the agency” among players.

into my roots

It doesn’t matter how many pieces make up my whole; rather, it’s my relationship with those pieces that matters — and that I must maintain. Simply saying “I am this” isn’t enough. To truly honor my heritage, I found I must understand and participate in it.

– Kayla DeVault, “Native and European — How Do I Honor All the Pieces of Myself?” Yes Magazine, no. 85 (Spring 2018): accessed March 16th, 2018,

I say I am Chinese-American, but I don’t even know what American means… except perhaps less Chinese. And less Chinese I certainly feel – illiterate and detached from my heritage.

There are everyday practices, small, aesthetic remarks, which are just poignant enough to stick in my brain. Using chopsticks, making dumplings, reusing plastic wrap, receiving red bags, and never leaving any food to waste lest the heavens strike me down. But having grown up in an urban center, drastically detached from the earth, I have not greeted nor tended the land – a land which I feel I have no right to be on.

While most of my elder relatives on my mother’s side reside in the northeastern parts of China, Héběi and Hénán, I recently found out that many of my ancestors were merchants of some kind from as far as what was Persia to the Uygur lands of the Xīn Jiāng province in northwest China. I hope one day I can travel back to revive parts of my heritage that may have been lost as my ancestors found their ways to city centers, and then, to the United States.

It is my duty to delve deep, into my roots, to “understand and participate,” as Kayla DeVault aptly noted, in the traditions and relationships which have sustained my growth and germination. I must be critical and radical in my work to learn to give back and respect the earth.