Unlimited Players

Edris Afsharkohan / University of Findlay


As a graduate student of Rhetoric and Writing, I truly enjoy helping domestic and international student writers that come to our writing center; however, the seriousness and importance of offering quality writing assistance in rather short writing conferences never allowed me to think how studying the intersections of the writing center and gaming scholarship can improve my tutoring skills. Holy Ryan and Stephanie Vie’s “Unlimited Players: The Intersections of Writing Center and Games Studies” gave me a much deeper understanding of what practical binary work is like, where the study of the two fields’ nuanced overlaps reveals some outstanding teacher/tutor-training strategies.

I should thank my classmate Erika Gifford for her mindful suggestion of this book since, from her perspective, my position as a graduate writing assistant at the University of Findlay’s writing center and the book’s title were showing strong relevance to each other, which I later found to be true.

My teaching and tutoring experience along with the writing pedagogy courses I took and the promotional visits we do at my university’s writing center show the unpopularity of writing practices at the college level, and the writing center scholarship has been long looking for strategies that can promote writing courses and seeking writing assistance. According to the book, although there is little work available on the interconnection of writing center work and game studies (p. 3), writing center scholarship, as the flag-bearer of this investigation, has been part of many interdisciplinary studies that could develop efficient tutor-training strategies. Therefore, “Unlimited Players: The Intersections of Writing Center and Games Studies” has done a great job to bring these two fields together, addressing five important research questions the editors came up with and filling some of the existing gaps between these two scholarships. I believe two of those important research questions, including “What does bringing together two seemingly disparate fields of study offer scholars who dwell in the overlaps? and What does a theory of writing center pedagogy look like when informed by game studies?” have a great potential to challenge the current notions of standard teacher training strategies with some fresh ideas (p. 3). This book also discusses many other useful teaching and training concepts throughout this collection, showing great potential for further investigation from an interdisciplinary standpoint (p. 3). Furthermore, the concepts of playing with noise, Ludus and Paidia of writing, and the magic circle in the writing center represent some of the most thought-provoking and useful outcomes of interdisciplinary studies that have significant practical applications.

Ryan and Vie then argue that writing center pedagogy can address significant practices, beliefs, and values in lots of new and exciting ways if they open the writing center scholarly play space to an unlimited number of players. As for content development, this collection has three intertwined sections, Key Concepts, Terms, and Connections; Application of Games to the Writing Center; and Staff and Writing Center Education Games. The editors claim that the initial two parts of the book contain in-depth chapters that analyze Writing Center work from the perspective of games and play. And, the final segment of the book contains games that directors and tutors can use within The Writing Center to facilitate staff development or help writers enhance their skills and practices (p. 24). In terms of content, I found the first two parts more informative and challenging for writing experts, so I did a more in-depth and comprehensive review for them.