What Should I Make?


I gave my class the assignment for their final project last week via email.  Today was the first time I've seen them since the assignment; there were blank stares and a palpable feeling of anxiety when I asked them if there were any questions about the project.  Note: you can read the entire assignment description here, but the gist of it is they have to make Something.
I was honest with them; I told them I knew the assignment was hard and that I was nervous about it, too, but I was going to make Something as well.  I am trying to stretch all of us, here, especially these honors students who likely don't do a lot of work with their hands.  I certainly fit that category, so I am defintely challenging myself.

So, what should I make?  It needs to be a physical object (so I can't "make" an essay about making things).  I'd like for it to be something useful and/or gaming related.

My first inclination is to hand draw and color a map, but there's a part of me that wants to make something more substantial.  Maybe some terrain (though I don't really use miniatures) or something else.

Suggestions are appreciated.  Any and all are welcome.  I don't have a lot of tools and can't afford to buy a lot between now and when this project is due, so that eliminates what I REALLY want to make, which are some bookshelves.

What should I make?


  1. "I don't have a lot of tools and can't afford to buy a lot between now and when this project is due, so that eliminates what I REALLY want to make," Haha, I imagine many of your studnets are saying the same thing.

    Not knowing what the class is about (HMXP???) it's pretty hard to guess what is relevant to it.

    But if you want to make something game-related, how about a DM screen or a dice-rolling tray (or tower). You can practically make them out of nothing but office supplies and scraps of wood or cardboard.

  2. The most important part of the assignment is that the Something "relates to the things we’ve discussed in class." Thus, it ought to be representative of the transformative - that is, an artifact which, in its form or use, inherently conveys a deeper understanding of class topics - or is an application of ideas into concrete usage. To make it gaming related, there would ideally need to be an intersection between a class topic and gaming from which you might draw inspiration (and really wow the class with its relevance).

    So, what would that intersection be?

  3. Aha, Human Experience: Who am I?

    Looking at some google results, it seems like it might be a general "Humanities" class? One syllabus had fair amount of philosophy, including even some texts I've used (Lakoff & Johnson, Marx & Engels, Plato) ... still not really sure what the class is about though...

  4. Best line in the whole assignment:

    "This will all be presented during our Final Exam time: December 7th at 8:00 AM. (Boy, that’s early. Looks like some of the Somethings I’ll make will be coffee and tea)."

    How many of your students will be making Fs? :-)

    But, seriously--make a One Page Dungeon Contest entry!

  5. The course itself is designed to explore the idea of the Self through a variety of readings. Most of those readings are from the Western humanities canon, though there are some non-Western sources as well as some science readings that deal with evolution, genetics, and the self/nature relationship. It's primarily for freshmen, so it's designed to get students used to academic prose, critical thinking, and writing arguments as much as it is anything else.

    I've also included readings about the anthropological significance of craft and art, as well as some stuff by Matthew Crawford that relates working on motorcycles to Aristotle; the final project is as much inspired by those as by anything else.

    It's an Honors section, so I seriously doubt there will be any F's :) They are all bright and engaged, mostly. It's really a great class.

    Thanks for all the questions and suggestions so far. I may wander around some hobby shops and/or paper stores this weekend to get further ideas.

    I like the one-page dungeon entry idea, though.

  6. I like the one-page dungeon, too. (I have a notebook full of them!) However, given the spirit of the course's focus on the Self, I would take the concept further. Have the dungeon not just be a representation of your love of gaming; have it be a representation of YOU. Perhaps exploring its depths is a way of symbolically exploring the chronology of your life in the abstract OR it's a journey of facing your real-life fears made manifest OR it's your ideal underground lair of "mastermindery" (you're a professor - that's one or two steps away from evil doctor, I think). Whatever the version, thoughtfully make the dungeon = you. Your students would really appreciate that.

    If you feel ambitious, recreate the design out of legos or balsa wood or something crafty like that, or, you could always take Dungeon Tiles and add your own designs to them.

  7. Cinder blocks and 2x4s can make an effective and tool-free bookcase. Call it a "pre-industrial, post-neolithic" look perhaps.

  8. how about a nicely drawn and lettered character sheet and miniature, hand-crafted from say beeswax (which is cheap and easy to mold in your hands, but hardens pretty well at room temperature). Not sure where you'd buy beeswax; I imagine an art store would carry it.

  9. left out the key part -- the character is you, of course.


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