Reading Suggestions – Games, use cases and instinct: a matter of genre

Toward a Rhetoric of Serious Game Genres

Lee Sherlock (Michigan State University, USA)
Copyright © 2010. In Interdisciplinary Models and Tools for Serious Games: Emerging Concepts and Future Directions

This chapter examines the construction of serious game genre frameworks from a rhetorical perspective. The author argues that to understand the forms of persuasion, learning, and social action that serious games facilitate, perspectives on genre must be developed and applied that situate serious gaming activity within larger systems of discourse, meaning-making, and text circulation. The current disconnect between popular understandings of serious game genres and those expressed by serious game developers represents one instance where rhetorical genre studies can be applied to generate knowledge about the “genre work” that serious games perform. Advocating a notion of genre that seeks to identify forms of social action and the persuasive possibility spaces of gaming, the author concludes by synthesizing digital game-based formulations of genre with perspectives from rhetorical theory to suggest implications for serious game research and design.

Examining the use case as genre in software development and documentation

by Ashley Williams. Published in:  Proceeding SIGDOC ’03 Proceedings of the 21st annual international conference on Documentation ACM New York, NY, USA ©2003

The practice of outsourcing among organizations frequently involves external companies or consultants introducing texts (or in rhetorical genre theory terms, genres) as means of transforming work practices in the company who sought expert help from the outside. Such an abrupt-seeming introduction of unfamiliar texts upon workers, either within or across organizations, characterizes a practice I call “genre dumping.” This practice, however, contrasts with the rhetorical genre theory perspective that sees genres as typified actions that respond to situations that recur. While such theoretical perspectives may help us understand how genres function and/or evolve in extant situations, they may not be sufficient for describing what happens when texts are imposed upon workers with the purpose of creating situations entirely new to those people and with the expectation that the text type (i.e., genre) will enable the new situation to stabilize and recur over time. For example, in software development, the practice of genre dumping is exemplified by a growing trend in which companies are adopting use cases to learn or begin using object-oriented or iterative design methodologies. In fact, the use case genre features its own large and growing body of literature and is popular for its perceived richness and informality in iterative design approaches. However, much of the use case literature voices problems that can arise with the adoption of use cases. As a means of beginning to assess the function of use cases in a particular software project in which genre dumping has occurred, this paper reports on a descriptive analysis of two use cases used in that project. Discussed here are implications for (a) practice apropos of the use of use cases in development and documentation and (b) theory apropos of notions of generic recurrence and communicative success and the phenomenon of genre dumping.

Assessing genre as rhetorical performance in software design

by Ashley Williams – Rensselaer Polytech. Inst., Troy, NY, USA. In Professional Communication Conference, 2003. IPCC 2003. Proceedings. IEEE International. 2003

When organizations outsource, seeking expert help from external companies or consultants, often those in consulting roles will introduce new texts in order to help manage workflows and transform known work processes, all with the intention of improving work practices. Such scenarios challenge a key claim in rhetorical genre studies which perceives genres as actions that respond to situations that recur. As much as genre studies’ notion of recurrence helps us understand texts’ ability to facilitate communication in recurring workplace processes, it offers little insight into theoretical or methodological approaches for professional or technical communicators who may want to address, in theory, research, or practice, how workers use texts that have been imposed upon them with the purpose of creating situations entirely new to them and with the expectation that the new situation will stabilize and recur over time (as what often happens when companies merge or outsource). This kind of abrupt introduction of texts into the workplace marks phenomena called “genre dumping.” In this paper, rhetorical genre theory and its application to genre dumping in technical communication has been examined, which have two aims: (a) to discuss how genre studies gives shape to what we know about how texts work in professional settings where technical work happens; and (b) to assess issues that genre dumping presents to rhetorical genre theory.

Genre and Instinct

by Hu, Yongmei,  Kaufer, David, Ishizaki, Suguru. In Cai, Yang (ed.) Computing with Instinct. Book Series Title: Lecture Notes in Computer Science Copyright: 2011 Publisher: Springer Berlin / Heidelberg.

A dominant trend relates written genres (e.g., narrative, information, description, argument) to cultural situations. To learn a genre is to learn the cultural situations that support it. This dominant thinking overlooks aspects of genre based in lexical clusters that appear instinctual and cross-cultural. In this chapter, we present a theory of lexical clusters associated with critical communication instincts. We show how these instincts aggregate to support a substrate of English genres. To test the cross-cultural validity of these clusters, we gave three English-language genre assignments to Chinese students in rural China, with limited exposure to native English and native English cultural situations. Despite their limited exposure to English genres, students were able to write English papers that exploited the different clusters in ways consistent with native writers of English. We conclude that lexical knowledge supporting communication instincts plays a vital role in genre development.


1 comment for “Reading Suggestions – Games, use cases and instinct: a matter of genre

  1. 31 March, 2012 at 09:26

    From Text Analytics LinkedIn Group.
    See discussion: here

    Kelly Bagley • Marina, have you seen the grid that divides all genres into 6 types based on 2 dimensions? Dimension one = {Behaviors, Emotions, Ideas}, Dimension two = {sequential, nonsequential}. For example, narrative is (Ideas, sequential) and procedural is (Behaviors, sequential) while hortatory is (Behaviors, nonsequential) and expository is (Ideas, nonsequential). (The other two are labeled expressive and descriptive in this chart.)

    Marina Santini • Hi Kelly,
    could you pls send me the the full reference? Not sure whether you are referring to Longacre, directly or inderectly. Thanks in advance, Marina

    Kelly Bagley • i am not sure who started this chart, it is found in the front of most of the publications in the Semantic Structural Analysis series from SIL. Go to to see their most recent publication in this series.

    Marina Santini • Thanks a lot!

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