Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Michael J. Salvo

Committee Member 1

C. B. Dilger

Committee Member 2

Harry C. Denny

Committee Member 3

Patricia A. Sullivan


In recent years videogames scholarship has grown from a small interest group within rhetoric and composition to a burgeoning interdisciplinary subfield. This growth has not been without problems or controversies, however, and on the whole there seems to be little consistency in either theory or practice when it comes to integrating games into composition curriculum. The purpose of this thesis is to examine a number of theories, concepts, procedures, and issues in the history of games and composition in order to suggest a possible direction for the future. To be clear, this is not an attempt to standardize a rule-governed system for gaming-based composition pedagogy, but rather a call for direct action and discussion about how exactly composition instructors should effectively and ethically introduce games into their classroom. With this in mind I present gamecraft, a value-based philosophy of composition for rhetorical gaming, one that I hope will lead to a more structured and unified discussion within the field. By connecting this concept to scholarship on learning, literacy, new media, rhetorical theory, and practical design, I hope to offer a unified foundation from which to establish gamecraft as a natural progression of rhetoric and composition scholarship rather than a new direction. By connecting the values of gamecraft to my own experiences teaching an assignment using Portal 2 and the Portal 2 Puzzle Maker, my goal is to suggest practical, theoretical, and pedagogical approaches that will hopefully make gamecraft useful for a broad range of instructors, courses, approaches, and institutions.