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Hostos Professor Rees Shad Creates Textbook With Students, For Students

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 (Bronx, NY) When Visual and Performing Arts Professor Rees Shad wanted a new textbook that was a better fit for Game Design students, he asked the experts to help him write, design, edit, and market one.

Those experts were, in fact, some of those same students.

Shad helped to launch the Media Design Program at Hostos in 2007. This past summer, he created the Hive Cooperative to help him create a book entitled, “Einstein & the Honeybee: An Introduction to Game Design and Game Development.” The book is available through Amazon and traditional bookstores and is being used as the main textbook for the Introduction to Game Design class (GD 101).

The book project ran from July 23 to August 7.  It was published through Amazon's Createspace Self-Publishing System and finished on August 23. Rees called it a total “collaborative effort” where everyone contributed their expertise, while learning about writing, editing and marketing. “Students really have equal ownership of the book. Not only is the book a great learning tool, the students who worked on it got an incredible portfolio and resume builder.”

“The Hive Cooperative” includes Shad, his son and teaching assistant Dylan Shad, and four students from Hostos: Elijah Richmond, a 2012 graduate who specialized in design and layout; Amara Dioubate, a current student who worked on layout and illustrations; Chris Aiken, a current student who was the director of chapter projects and “primary play tester;” and Rocio Rayo, a 2010 Hostos graduate who worked as an editor on the project. The Shads outlined the book earlier in the year, with Rees creating the primary text and Dylan writing asides and focusing on editing the material.

As for the textbook’s title, “Einstein and the Honeybee,” Rees explained that the book project explored games as “systems,” and in the initial chapter of the book, the metaphor of bees within their ecosystem was introduced as a symbol of the “interplay of assets in a game.” In order to describe dysfunctional system relationships undermining play the metaphor turned to CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) and how the disease is perilous to the ecosystem. Einstein is often misquoted as having said, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” The methods of propagation of this quote became yet another example of a system, and from there the famous physicist became part of the narrative.

A board game was also created using similar themes to help students work through the challenges of iterative game design.

The book was funded by The Ravenfox Fund, which Shad established to honor his late brother, Dylan Isaac Ravenfox. Rees said his brother was an artist and activist and his memory is being honored today by sponsoring various student fellowships, scholarships, and events involving Hostos media design students through the foundation.Rocio Rayo works as a teaching aid for Shad’s writing intensive classes.  Rocio said the book is a unique learning and teaching tool. “This book provides a voice that is different than the standard academic voice and it gave students, and Rees, a different avenue to express themselves.”

Shad said the group actually spent 14 days together – part of the time in the Adirondack Mountains - working nonstop in an immersive collaboration of both writing and design.

Dylan Shad is an audio engineer by trade and applying to graduate school for game design. He said each student brought something different to the table. “Chris (Aiken) has taken the courses and had a mindset to write about it. Rees, of course, has a lot of experience and Elijah (Richmond) and Amara (Dioubate) were great with the artistic stuff. It is the first book I have worked on that has gotten this far. Rees is really good at pulling people together and getting them to work as a unit.”

For Rees, a former musician and bandleader, the fusion of interests and talents was a natural and comfortable experience. “It was a blast. This has been an excellent experience in writing, book design, information design and publishing. It also taught these students about business. It was a wonderful, collaborative experience.”

The process of creating the textbook was also documented on a website (http://einsteinandthehoneybee.wordpress.com/)

About the Hive Cooperative:
The Hive Cooperative is Rees Shad, Elijah Richmond, Chris Aiken, Dylan Shad, Rocio Rayo, & Amara Dioubate. It was formed this summer when Hostos Community College Professor Shad and his teaching assistant and collaborator, Dylan Shad, recruited Hostos students and recent graduates to help them create a book on game design. The team came together in late July to analyze, playtest, deconstruct, reconstruct, edit, illustrate, and layout Rees’ original text. The Hive Cooperative is already plotting other projects, including developing a concept pitch for an MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online game) called “Shadowborn.”

About Hostos Community College:             
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, part of The City University of New York (CUNY) system, was founded in 1968.  In addition to associate degree programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions, Hostos also has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development that offers courses for professional development and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. In four decades, Hostos has grown from a class of 623 in 1970 to over 7,000 students in 2012. The College also serves an additional 12,000 students through its Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. For more news and stories about Hostos Community College, visit www.hostos.cuny.edu.

Media Contact:
Soldanela Rivera - srlopez@hostos.cuny.edu
Rich Pietras – rpietras@hostos.cuny.edu
Phone: 718-518-6872, 718-518-6513



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