Archive for June, 2012

Just Playing Around at THATCamp Prime

It’s that time of year again: THATCamp time! I’ll be leaving tomorrow for the weekend’s bash/learnfest at the Roy Rosenzweig CHNM. In a Twitter conversation last month, my fellow ProfHacker Ethan Watrall and I started talking about the games we wanted to bring to play in the evening. And that led to Ethan suggesting that we simply propose a game session during the Camp. So here’s our joint proposal. While it’s written from my perspective (since I was going to be the person posting it), it’s a cooperative endeavor.


One of the great things about an unconference is that we can make them what we want them to be. It’s true that the theme of a THATCamp is an emphasis on the combination of The Humanities And Technology, something that is conflated–too often, perhaps, and on occasion incorrectly–with the digital humanities.

Over the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a lot of origin stories from those working in DH. And one of the things I’ve learned from these tales is that people often get their start down this path through screwing around in their spare time. It’s what Steve Ramsay has called the screwmeneutical imperative. For myself, I more or less stumbled down the rabbit hole when I read Franco Moretti’s Graphs Maps Trees while finishing my dissertation and decided that I should start making maps. It’s not what my dissertation needed at that moment, but it was a doorway into thinking differently about everything I’d done prior to that point. Fast-forward five years, and I’m a full-fledged digital humanities tactician

DH, as well as other combinatorial excursions into the humanities and technology, in other words, come from just playing around. For this reason, Ethan Watrall and I would like to propose a session dedicated to play. Specifically, we’re thinking games – non-digital games (card, board, miniature, etc). We’re each going to bring one or two with us, but we’d like to invite you to bring one along.

A few ground rules:

  • Given the length of sessions, the games you bring need to be able to be taught and played in less than 60 minutes. Less than 30 minutes is perhaps ideal. So, this means no crazy 8-hour sessions of Twilight Imperium, 3rd edition.
  • We’re primarily interested in designer (ish) games (some info on what a designer board game is). This means no Monopoly, Risk, Clue, etc. We wouldn’t have time anyway.
  • If you bring a game, you’ll need to be prepared to teach it.
  • Bragging rights must be CC-licensed.

What do you think? What will you bring to play? To start things off, here is what we will bring:

Brian: Incan Gold, Carcassonne, Small World Underground (for after parties, only)
Ethan: at least Munchkin (the original card game)

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