Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Sandbox Project - Prezi Play

Inspired by Darcy Osheim's thesis that examines World of Warcraft from a pedagogical perspective, I'm launching a little experiment in paragraph-level writing that explores the intersection of pedagogy and sandbox style gaming, focusing mainly on console games like GTA, Red Dead Redemption, and LA Noire. Aside from common interest, my project and Darcy's thesis are unrelated. These 'graphs are written without an outline. Their connections may be tenuous or superfluous. I may never finish. 

Despite its glitches and limitations, Prezi demonstrates an essential dimension of sandbox thinking: the tabula rasa. Launch a new Prezi (using the latest desktop version), switch off the template chooser, wipe out that annoying "Place for your Text," and finally enjoy the pleasure of… nothing. Just empty space.

Sure, there's the minor marring of a subtle grid, but you need only select "Present Mode" and then even the grid disappears. For that initial moment you may pan or zoom like you're driving in whiteout conditions. I wonder how a newcomer to Prezi would perceive this endless expanse of nothingness. Without a frame of reference, would this scene convey promising potential or arid emptiness?

Either way, one must add something to a Prezi. This is a sandbox built for presentations. Add words, images, or objects, and you can fill an apparently infinite expanse along X and Y axes. Then comes the real fun: learning to navigate the Z axis. Using Prezi's zoom feature, you can arrange material at various levels of foreground and background, forming layers of organization, constellations of relationship.

As this tool advances through iterations of improvement, I wonder how Prezi might be used less for formal presentations and more as a place to play.

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