Choose your Own Adventure: Marketing the Creative Industries

This semester, I'm teaching an upper-year undergraduate course in Ryerson University's Creative Industries program, called Marketing the Creative Industries. We're using Anita Elberse's book Blockbusters as a primary textbook, supplemented by cases (many of them also by Elberse) and a few other articles, notably Rob Kozinets' classic primer on netnography, "Click to Connect".

I very much dislike lecturing for more than a few minutes at a time; like most professors I admire (and as in most classes I enjoyed as a student myself), I try to incorporate discussion, student response and open-ended questions in every class session. In all of my teaching, I try as much as I can to include elements of active learning - in particular, I'm fond of games in the classroom. (You can read more on the basics of gamification in this piece by Lee Skallerup Bessette for Hybrid Pedagogy.)  

In this vein, I decided to try something new for this semester: a choose-your-own-adventure game for the whole class, to wrap up a two-class unit on stardom, winner-take-all markets and talent-development models in the creative industries. It's a narrative centred on a young movie star on the rise, Chloe Michaels, who needs to decide how to manage her career on the cusp of her big break.

The presentation itself is nothing fancy, at least at this point: just a PowerPoint with a bunch of words on it, mostly. But my classed loved it. They got really involved in the story - and they picked up on a few things I hadn't thought of. 

The game has three decision points and sixteen different potential endings. At each decision point, I had the class (about 40 students) get into small discussion groups of 4-6 people and debate amongst themselves which decision Chloe should make. After 5-7 minutes, I called the class back together and asked each group to present their decision, and their reasoning behind it. Many times, groups disagreed on the best path for Chloe to take, and there was a fair bit of heated discussion. After each group had presented, I asked if anyone had anything final to add, and then took a vote. (There were several very close votes.) 

When the vote was complete, I turned off the projector screen, flipped to the result slide, and then turned the projector back on to let the students see the result of their decision - and strategize as to how to make the next one.

I'll be making more of these as the semester goes along. In the meantime, if you'd like to download a PDF of the original simulation, you can find it here. Please feel free to use or adapt if necessary; please just don't share or publish without credit. All content © Jessica Langer.