Aquestion Becomes a Producer, Dives Into Role-Playing
(Image from the video)
In the role-playing world it’s known as light sync, using magic to manipulate other mystical objects such as healing spells, shields, or explosives. In the story Itasca, Aquestion – a games developer that focuses on light sync – hosted a two-day camp for teachers to use traditional role-playing for young girls. The camp, held in Minneapolis on the first two days of April, included nine girls from the region.
Students spent the first day of the camp performing spells alongside light synchronizers, readings from Ursula Le Guin, and stories by Michael Moorcock. The second day was spent learning dungeon crawls, role-playing games and spells. The event was developed to teach students about the appeal of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math), the opportunities that technology offers to learn these skills, and to provide an introduction to the role-playing world.
The camp offered a step up from more traditional role-playing, with a more immersive learning experience. When I spoke with Joey Uels, one of the role-players and one of the instructors, he explains that while role-playing is a great way to engage with imaginary worlds, there is one major drawback: “A major difficulty that role-players always run into is that those magical items we use for spells don’t really speak to us.” In light sync, students can make sorcery from anything. A kinetic sword, a noisemaker that causes a small voice, or a lava sluice are useful to students, and playful ways to interact with the technology that was available to us as children.
The instructors at the camp introduced students to a variety of cool technologies such as 360-degree VR, the Heemike motion tracker, and several canons. Uels mentioned that students were really into the giant canons, “but when we presented the VR experience they were really puzzled.” The instructors tried to educate students by sharing relevant facts, but more than once told students to just try it on their own.
The overall goal of the camp was to increase students’ awareness of technology and STEAM. For some students, the camp was their first introduction to the world of role-playing. Others, while hesitant at first, gained confidence, and were able to join in and make a major difference in the world around them.
There was a lot to see and learn, and teachers who participated in the camp told me that it was one of the best days of their lives. This, coupled with the excitement I felt when I first started playing Dungeons & Dragons as a teenager, brought back memories of a time when technology was a fascinating novelty. Tech today can do almost everything that magic once did, and it’s inspiring to me that people are innovating with technology so that magic can still be an accessible, fun experience for children.