FAQs

This is fun, but how is this technical writing?

What is technical writing? No, I’m not avoiding the question. The Society for Technical Communication (STC) defines technical communication (technical writing is the most common form of technical communication) as any form of communication that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics: “(1) communicating about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations; (2) communicating through printed documents or technology, such as web pages, help files, or social media sites; or (3) providing instructions about how to do something, regardless of the task’s technical nature”.

Designing and documenting a game mimics the process of developing and documenting a product simultaneously, without requiring a lot of technical skill. Writing rules is a way of learning to write help documentation, and game testing is another way to approach usability. Game design documents can be forms of proposals and technical specifications.

Plus, it’s fun. So are we writing engineering documentation? Not exactly, but we can expect what we learn here to transfer to other, professional situations.

Why don’t you lecture more?

Believe me, I’m tempted. But it’s mainly because this is a problem-based course, and I’m trying to teach, to some degree, on a “pull” system. What that means is that instead of bombarding students with information that they then are expected to sift through, I present them with a series of tasks related to technical writing, and then provide them with resources—readings, tools, feedback, techniques—that allow them to complete those tasks. I think that this is a way to make the class leaner and more active.

What are you going to do with these games?

Nothing. Really. These games belong to my students.

Can they actually Kickstart them?

Sure, but I ask them to wait until the course is over. I don’t want to get embroiled in who owns what, and whether the University should get involved, and all that. As far as I’m concerned, this was a learning exercise. If they choose to take it further, I encourage them to talk to each other—they all contributed to this project, and they should all get a chance to profit from it. But Kickstarting isn’t easy!

Why don’t you teach (insert genre—business letters, proposals, etc)?

Because that’s a genre-based approach to teaching, and I’ve got a limited amount of confidence that that approach works. Genres are simply ways of solving recurring problems. They are neither foolproof nor fixed—genres change as communicative situations change. Teaching the business letter as though it were a Platonic ideal seems misguided to me.

Why don’t you talk more about grammer, spelling, and usage?

We can if you want. You want to? You misspelled grammar.