Constructing negotiated meaning and knowledge for the Sol y Agua Project's role-playing adventure game focused on sustainability problems in the El Paso-Rio Grande area

Claudia Chihiro Santiago, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Video games that address environmental sustainability issues could engage students. However, video games make simplifications and establish idealistic expectations that do not resemble real life sustainability challenges and settings. Game developers and scholars believe that depicting the complexity of the real world could help video games become effective educational tools. They call for additional procedures that incorporate information from actual settings and real life situations. Furthermore, scholars have argued that video games addressing sustainability issues can be improved or made more meaningful with the participation of youth from underrepresented populations, e.g., Latinos. The Sol y Agua project at The University of Texas at El Paso exemplifies efforts to create a video game informed by real life circumstances. As a member of this project, I aimed to gather local environmental and cultural information to inform the development of the video game. Through a case study, I examined how the underlying values, beliefs, meanings, and knowledge of six community members in the fields of agriculture, urban systems, ground water systems, desert ecology, and traditional ecological knowledge function as hidden logics that collide, intersect, and aggregate to construct new meaning and knowledge of local sustainability issues. Study results indicated that some community members added a personal dimension to the professional view of collaboration held by other community members who presented themselves strictly as scientists. Furthermore, the study yielded the concept of the “largest water user.” Community members’ perceptions of the largest water user intersected and created a new viewpoint, in which the largest water user is a changing concept that would continue adjusting as local circumstances fluctuate. Also, community members’ perspectives collided. The majority of community members believed that students could develop a deeper connection with the Rio Grande River by participating in outdoor opportunities that foster insightful understanding of nature. However, some community members suggested that students foster deep connections with nature through everyday activities as part of their own culture and background. Tracking community members’ logics revealed their individual values, knowledge, and beliefs. In turn, the individual logics helped construct new knowledge that could inform the development of the video game at a community level. ^

Subject Area

Environmental education|Sustainability|Rhetoric

Recommended Citation

Santiago, Claudia Chihiro, "Constructing negotiated meaning and knowledge for the Sol y Agua Project's role-playing adventure game focused on sustainability problems in the El Paso-Rio Grande area" (2015). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10000806.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI10000806

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