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“Mashfiq Building Inclusive Community”

I’m a Chemistry teacher and have been playing games since I was four years old. I didn’t go looking to make video games a big part of my life, but over the years I’ve come back to them again and again. Reflecting on this now, I see a common thread of connection is what kept me coming back.

Growing up I found myself feeling like an outsider. Not from ability or understanding, but because I wasn’t represented in the media I was playing or the people who were teaching me at school. I steadily felt more disconnected from the world around me and the people in it. I couldn’t imagine finding the connection I wanted because the people around me looked nothing like me.

Video games were different though. They offered me a way to take control. Not only because of the power and abilities games offered but how I could step into another life and imagine it as my own. And increasingly, these were characters I could craft to look just like me.

This started as a way to connect with my brother over the games of my childhood. From there it grew into joining the PC gaming community as I built my computer. Onwards, I loved the connection that introducing friends to games and playing together brought. Then as I got into more competitive games like Rocket League and Apex Legends, the connection came from performance, competition and working to improve with other people.

Today I draw on all this, both the games themselves and my focus on human connection, to help inspire and teach my students. I’ve found new games like Feather, Bastion and Rocket League that let them not only connect with themselves but with each other, and greatly help their well-being.
 

Outcome
Creating a supportive gaming community and used video games in the classroom.


This outcome arises from the following 9 milestones over the span of 17 years, from 9 - 26 years-old:

DetailsPathway Details

Name: Mashfiq Ahmed
Stage of Life: 9 - 26 years-old
Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Platform, Point-and-Click, Role-Play, Shooting, Simulation, Stealth, Strategy and Traversal
Platforms: Game Boy Advance, GameCube, PC and Web Browser
 

 

Brotherly Guidance

Age: 9-years-old / 01/01/2005 / 17 years ago

Platform: Game Boy Advance

Growing up my brother and I shared a Gameboy Advance. There were many ways we connected, but the moments when he showed me through games like Pokemon and taught me how to progress was magical. Not only magical, but this was a way into this world of gaming at a time when you couldn’t just look things up on the internet easily.

Mashfiq's brother took the time to introduce him to video games, and strengthened their relationship.

Becoming a Gamer

Age: 15-years-old / 01/01/2011 / 11 years ago

Platform: GameCube

Resident Evil was a difficult game with mechanics that were hard to master. I remember trying to shoot my first zombie as a completely foreign experience, holding that Gamecube controller with so many buttons. Slowly, steadily I got better. And along the way, I discovered my resilience to keep trying - something invaluable in much of my future learning.

Mashfiq learned how to play a more complex game, gaining skills that opened the door to other experiences.

Shared Joy Of Discovery

Age: 17-years-old / 01/01/2013 / 9 years ago

Platform: PC

My older brother bought the Batman games. As soon as I saw them I wanted to play as well, but had to transition to playing these bigger open world games (and get used to a mouse and keyboard rather than game controller).

Because this was new to both of us, this time it wasn’t him learning it and then teaching me, but us learning together. Even playing on a laptop I loved discovering a whole world to explore and combat that was as much about rhythm as it was just violence. What started as an impossible way to play turned into something I loved and then pursued the sequels.

Mashfiq could now enter into the experience of a vast open game to explore.

Becoming a Game Connoisseur

Age: 20-years-old / 01/01/2016 / 6 years ago

Platform: PC

Indie games like Bastion were now on my radar. I loved how they told stories in new ways, like a new form of art. As much as this I loved being part of that Indie gaming world. It was a subculture where again I found that connection I was looking for and I wanted to tell everyone about it. I would introduce my friends to these games when they’d listen, and make new connections over the games when we would play together.

Mashfiq spent time playing a wide range of games to understand the gaming world, and build up the knowledge to introduce others to it.

Building an Educational Community

Having travelled with video games in his private life, Mashfiq decided to try using them in his teaching and school work. This began with him starting a virtual Minecraft club during the pandemic. A space for students to connect and destress. It became more than a simple club as friendships were formed, virtual thanksgiving was hosted and luna new year party.

By the end a whole town and community had been created in the Minecraft world. After lock-downs it became an in-person space where children did Minecraft crafts to raise money. There was even a trip to Coney Island Creek, where the children investigated life in the water which then informed the Minecraft building competition including hydroponics plant growing.

Mashfiq's Minecraft clubs and community created safe space where people could relate to each other, communicate and ease their fears.

Activities: Mashfiq found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Minecraft:


Minecraft Club
CLUBS AND CLASSES

Mashfiq organised a community driven educational Minecraft club.
Mashfiq ran a pumpkin building competition in Minecraft.

Building A Generous Community

Age: 25-years-old / 01/01/2021 / 23 months ago

Platform: PC

Mashfiq wanted to create a community that was not only educational but also and supportive. He had found that the game Kind Words had been a support during times when he struggled with depression. He would play to relax in the evening after work.

It was a natural next step to include this game in his work with students. They could open some letters from other players and responding in kind. Although care was needed in this open communication, Mashfiq says he was regularly surprised at how positive the interactions were. "A testament to human nature wanting ultimately to find connection."

Mashfiq's expectation and disposition towards online games was softened through the positive interactions of this open community sharing letters.

Building An Inclusive Community

Age: 25-years-old / 01/01/2021 / 23 months ago

Platform: PC

Mashfiq wanted the gaming communities he was building to be representative of his students. Although Apex Legends is a fast-action combat game, it's popularity with his class led to discussions of the identity of the characters you play in the game.

The game offers a diverse set of characters to play, so players have a sense of representation in the game. Also, because it's cross-platform there wasn't the usual barrier of what technology you play on. The result, in both talking about and playing the game, was another step towards a community that included all-comers.

More than just the enjoyable gameplay, Mashfiq appreciated the representation and inclusion of Apex Legends, that made it ripe territory to accommodate connection to a wide group of students.

Building A Media Aware Community

Age: 25-years-old / 01/01/2021 / 23 months ago

Platform: Web Browser

Mashfiq wanted to find a way to teach his class how scientific debate can become derailed with media bias and the way social media works. He used We Become What We Behold to illustrate this powerfully.

It's an unusual game and one that doesn’t hold back on its ideas about the media and representation. Having checked with parents and guardians first, it’s a game I use in my class on Chromebooks. There’s a shocking moment when events turn bad, which needs some care for sensitive students, but the conversations and discussions afterwards are deeply rewarding and worth the challenges.

Mashfiq work with his classes and this game to underline how debate and science break down in social echo chambers.

Building A Wellbeing Community

Age: 26-years-old / 01/01/2022 / 11 months ago

Adventures With Anxiety is another unusual game because of the topic of anxiety and the simple choose-your-own-adventure presentation. This was a really useful game to enable students to be able to connect with themselves where they were. It was a space to talk about and consider mental health.

Mashfiq used games with his students to highlight issues around anxiety and how to support each other and care for oneself

Pathway Outcome

The culmination of the milestones in the pathway lead to Mashfiq creating a supportive gaming community and used video games in the classroom. . We have described it as a linear journey, but of course, there is always a fair amount of back and forth between the games they played.

Along with the main outcome Mashfiq also changed in the following ways:

  • Disposition: Mashfiq's expectation and disposition towards online games was softened through the positive interactions of this open community sharing letters.
  • Experience: Mashfiq could now enter into the experience of a vast open game to explore.
  • Identity: Mashfiq used games with his students to highlight issues around anxiety and how to support each other and care for oneself
  • Knowledge: Mashfiq spent time playing a wide range of games to understand the gaming world, and build up the knowledge to introduce others to it.
  • Relationships: Mashfiq's brother took the time to introduce him to video games, and strengthened their relationship.
  • Skill: Mashfiq learned how to play a more complex game, gaining skills that opened the door to other experiences.
  • Society: Mashfiq's Minecraft clubs and community created safe space where people could relate to each other, communicate and ease their fears.
  • Society: Mashfiq work with his classes and this game to underline how debate and science break down in social echo chambers.
  • Society: More than just the enjoyable gameplay, Mashfiq appreciated the representation and inclusion of Apex Legends, that made it ripe territory to accommodate connection to a wide group of students.

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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