I Suck at This Game: “Let’s Play” Videos, Think-Alouds, and the Pedagogy of Bad Feelings
This article explores the pedagogical usefulness of “Let’s Play” videos (LPs), a wildly popular paratext in which video gamers record and narrate their gameplay. I designed and implemented an LP creation assignment in two English Literature classes that focused on digital children’s literature and culture. I imagined my LP assignment as a variation on a cognitive “think-aloud” activity, wherein students and/or instructors vocalize their approach to solving a particular problem. I was curious how these habits of mind might differ when students engage with interactive digital texts as opposed to print literature. What this study exposed is the centrality of feelings—in particular, “bad” feelings like anxiety and frustration, and the silences that often accompany these feelings—to the initial stages of critical thinking. When students contemplated bad feelings and their origins, eventually they were able to offer incisive analyses of their digital texts. Ultimately, this study argues that cognitive and affective “think-and-feel-aloud” activities such as the LP exercise, which allow students to dwell momentarily in bad feelings and silence, create rich teaching and learning opportunities.
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