Games as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors

How do games reflect our lives, open windows into others’ realities, and offer us a way to share experiences with others?

As I’ve noted before, I love teaching writing using games, specifically rhetorical analysis, because games offer us so many ways to see our lives and text (and perhaps see our lives as text) in new and exciting ways. This week as my students began drafting their rhetorical analysis essays we drew inspiration from the work of Emily Styles and Rudine Sims Bishop. According to WITS, the notion that classroom curriculum should serve as “windows and mirrors” for students was first coined by educator Emily Styles in 1988. It was in 1990 that well-known children’s literature researcher, Rudine Sims Bishop, wrote about “windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors” as it relates specifically to children’s books. With this way of thinking, Sims Bishop states that books should be windows into the realities of others, not just imaginary worlds, and books can be mirrors that reflect the lives of readers. Sliding glass doors refers to how readers can walk into a story and become part of the world created by the author – readers become fully immersed in another experience. Approaching children’s stories through the lens of windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors, prioritizes diversity, honors many cultures, and promotes empathy. As my students drafted their rhetorical analysis essays we examined our chosen texts using mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. I think this same theory can be used to explore the ways that games are reflections of ourselves, windows into others’ realities, and a way to share experiences with others.

To begin our classes last week I shifted the usual “I am a writer from…” prompt to instead draw inspiration from Walt Whitman and Robert Frost. For our initial check-in writing students were invited to respond to one of these ideas:

  • From Walt Whitman’s A Hand-Mirror: What internal conflict does your mirror not show?
  • From Robert Frost’s Now Close The Windows: How are outside forces pressuring you?

We then explored games using this framework:

  • Mirror: How does this game reflect your life experience and personal values?
  • Window: How does this game shows us the reality of life?
  • Sliding Glass Door: How do you and other players become immersed in the world of this game (how the boundaries between the game and the real world cannot always be seen)?

Image by Diane Kim from Pixabay