Category: Games

July 17, 2013 in Games, Projects

Social Studies with Charades & SMALLab

Recently I've been thinking about adapting common party games for the classroom. The energy and quick thinking involved in games like Charades, Celebrity, Pictionary, and Taboo would work well to help students internalize facts such as historical names and events. "Who Am I" (title will change, don't worry) is basically Charades using SMALLab to provide visual feedback and an architecture for team play. I made a very rough video of how it would work (do not judge my animation & video skills on this!): In case you don't feel like watching it, here's an illustration and brief description: In the above image, students have been divided into 4 teams. One student from each team has been given a character to act out such as Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, etc. That students stands in the center of each quadrant. When the game begins, the center student silently acts out their character while his/her teammates guess who they are.

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June 4, 2013 in Games, Ideas, Research

Embodied Learning: Research & Thoughts

Chemistry in the SMALLab. Credit: Ken Howie Photography> In this post I'll go over two applications of embodied learning. First is SMALLab, a learning environment using motion-capture technology and large scale projections to track movements in space, and second is Science Choreography, a project through Wesleyan University and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange that combines art, science, and kinesthetic learning to teach science topics. But before getting into all of that, a look at what embodied learning actually means: Definition The SMALLab website defines embodied learning as "a field that blends the learning sciences and human computer interaction". Science Choreography deals more with the direct translation of a process or concept into movement. In this video, Liz Lerman describes, "when you embody a process you start to realize what you don't understand, and you begin to ask questions because you want to get the movements right." In embodied learning, physical movement is the medium through which we internalize knowledge. A few learning theories relevant to embodied learning are embodied cognition, differentiated instruction, and social constructivism. Some quick-ish definitions before getting into the examples: Embodied Cognition is the argument that all aspects of cognition are determined by the body. This includes higher level cognition like reasoning, judgement, and categorization. Differentiated instruction refers to a teaching philosophy contrary to the "one size fits all" model that many schools go by today. Students are provided avenues for learning and assessment that are effective for all students, regardless of ability.

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May 21, 2013 in Games, Research

Reinventing Board Games

Dominic Crapuchettes (founder of North Star Games) talks about the renaissance of modern board games. A few main points:

Tablets are making traditional board games obsolete.

Similar to books vs. ebooks: the production process is very expensive compared to buying a game from the App Store, and the convenience of a tablet is certainly desirable.

Game Designers are no longer anonymous.

You won’t see the name of the Monopoly’s or Scrabble’s designer on the box; prior to modern board games, designers were completely anonymous. In this case, designers receive no upside from sales even if the brand is massively successful, and receive no recognition for their work.

In modern board games, designers have become more like authors and artists. The trend started in Germany with the award Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year). The prize is always awarded to the designer not the publisher, and he/she will receive royalties according to the success of the game. Designers now take on the role of entrepreneur with intense passions for their craft and the opportunity to make a living from it.

The craft itself has improved.

Modern board games get rid of the mechanics that are not fun, though common in older games like Monopoly:

  • Waiting for your turn.
  • Not allowed to play, i.e. losing and being knocked out of the game.
  • Unpredictable play times (will it take 1hr or 24hrs?).

Finally, the space is crowded. New game designers now see themselves as artists, they find a concept and use the craft of board game design to involve people in that concept.

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April 2, 2013 in Games

Article: Gamification is Bullshit by Ian Bogost

In a nutshell: …gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway. – Ian Bogost In defense of gamification, from the […]

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March 25, 2013 in Games, Ideas, Projects

Card Sorting to Brain-cleansing Games

About Card Sorting Card sorting is an exercise in user experience design where a group of users sort cards with various words on them into categories. It is often used to determine a website map or to test the language of product, so the cards' words would be things like "Pricing", "Testimonials", or "Tour". About Brain-cleansing I recently did something like card sorting with a client, but less structured. The terms on my cards were very random, anywhere from "Beyonce" to "corn" to "Trust". Each of us in the meeting grabbed a handful of cards and spent a few minutes organizing them in any way that made sense. This gave me the idea to design "Brain-cleansing" games (horrible name, I know). They would be simple exercises that help you break down creative barriers and allow thoughts to flow more freely - a solution for writers block or if you are stuck on a bug in your code. Clear your mind with one or two rounds then return to your work. Here is the first I've come up with (basically lnfnmo): Brain Cleanse game #1: Left & Right Gather/prepare these things: A deck of 20 cards (download some). I taped mine to playing cards for easier handling. Some sort of divider, like a chopstick or a pencil. A timer if playing alone (optional). Choose two cards without looking at them. Turn both over and place one on the left side of the divider and one on the right. Leave a few card lengths between the card and the divider. Like this:

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March 5, 2013 in Design, Games, Research

DML Conference 2013

In a couple of weeks (March 14-16) I'll be heading to Chicago for the annual Digital Media and Learning Conference organized by the DML Research Hub. The theme this year is "Democratic Futures: Mobilizing Voices, and Remixing Youth Participation". There has been a longstanding narrative of youth political apathy and disengagement from democratic life. As the currents of social, political, financial, and global change intensify, what is the future of participatory democracy, youth activism, and civic and political education? How are the practices and forms of participatory democracy evolving in the age of social, digital, and mobile media? So many good talks, and I think a few of my favorites overlap unfortunately. Anyhow, here are some I'm especially looking forward to: ChicagoQuest Curriculum Design Jam "In this workshop, players will be taught the different phases of our curriculum design process. They will form small teams to compete against other teams in a guided challenge to design at each of the “levels” of the curriculum design process, both experiencing and designing CQ-style game-like learning." Seems that I've been mentioning the Quest Schools in every post at this point... Games, Learning and the Future of Assessment "The development of game-based assessments to support the learning of domain-based knowledge and skills." Very excited for this one.

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January 28, 2013 in Games, Projects

Global Game Jam 2013

I participated in the Pittsburgh Global Game jam this past weekend. In a sentence, the GGJ is a worldwide event where teams make a game in under 48 hours according to a predetermined theme – read more here. I was the 2D artist on a team with two […]

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December 19, 2012 in Games, Research

Notes on the Principles of Game-like Learning

I just watched a great webinar at Connected Learning with Katie Salen who is a co-author of Rules of Play, and director of the Institute of Play. Below is a recording followed by some notes. Katie Salen: Making Learning Irresistible: 6 Principles of Game-like Learning Key Design Principles How do we to take a theory and translate it into an actionable principle? Creating a need to know: Games drop players into problem spaces that a player is willing to confront and solve. Curriculum design should revolve around creating a need to know, not about what to know. Games as spaces of possibility: Teachers create a space of possibility for students or players to tinker, explore, and test assumptions. Start with content to teach and present it in a space for learners to experiment. Get students comfortable with failing by structuring coursework around iterations.

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December 11, 2012 in Games, Research

Educational Games Research

Article: Learning to Play to Learn – Lessons in Educational Game Design by Eric Zimmerman and Nick Fortugno Excellent article summarizing the state of educational games. It addressing the split between educators and developers as well as the importance of using games to […]

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November 16, 2012 in Games, Research

A Template for Analyzing Game Design

A note about analyzing vs. reviewing a game: an analysis mainly consists of what is actually present in the game, not what you think should be. Pick it apart and see what choices the designer made and think about why. I figured it'd be helpful to have a template for guidance when critiquing a game. Hopefully this will also be a useful inventory of mechanics for game design itself. Disclaimer: this is pretty long and prepare yourself for some lists. Also, appropriate use of the definition list HTML tag follows. Anyways: Formal Elements The Basics Name of the game, the platform, and time played. Note that you can get a good idea of the game from playing for 30 mins or so, it doesn't have to be a 20 hour endeavor. Overview A paragraph summary of everything below. Players How many players are supported? Does it need to be an exact number? How does this affect play? Some types of player frameworks: Single Player - like Solitare. Head-to-head - 1 vs. 1, Chess. PvE - Player vs. Environment, or multiple players vs. the game. Common in MMOs like World of Warcraft. One against Many - Single player vs. multiple (obvy). Free-for-all - Every man for himself (1 vs. 1 vs. 1 vs. 1..). Most common for multiplayer games, from Monopoly to Modern Warfare. Individuals Against the System - Like Blackjack, where the Dealer is playing against multiple players, but those players have no effect on each other. Team Competition - Multiple vs. multiple, i.e. sports.

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November 4, 2012 in Games, Projects

Issues & Assets, a card game concept

Issues & Assets is a card game about WWI I've been working on. Pretty random, right? It's an assignment at the end of Game Design Concepts Level 3 (yes, I am working through this quite slowly) which was: Design a non-digital game with theme a relating to World War I. The primary objective of players cannot be territorial control, or capture/destroy. I watched some videos on WWI and promptly took a two hour nap afterwards because, well, obviously. Anyways, from my research I gathered that the war came about because of tension between world powers and unofficial agreements with one another. Maybe. I decided to create a game exploring pacts, agreements, and what it means to break them. The game is in its first/second-ish iteration and I have not play tested yet (other than with myself). So 90% of the following will change, but I figure it's good to practice to write about it. Your goal is to: Solve your Issues with the other player's Assets. Components Issues are cards with a problem on them (they aren't related to WWI in this initial version, but could be later on). Each has a value of 1-4. Right now the Issues are things like Hungry (2), Depressed (4), or Bad Breath (1).

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October 14, 2012 in Games

Analysis of Temple Run for iPad

I want to start playing as many games as possible and doing brief-ish analyses of them, so here's a start: Basics Name: Temple Run Platform: iPad Time played: 25 mins Overview Temple run is a free (and ad free) 3D platform game. You are a man running from a herd of what appear to be gorillas and have to collect coins for bonuses along the way, all the while turning, leaping over, ducking under obstacles, and collecting coins. You can then spend your coins on powerups and new characters at a store and can, of course, buy more coins with real money if you don't have enough. There is also a comprehensive list of objectives to work through as you play.

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October 8, 2012 in Games, Projects

From the vaults [lnfnmo][NODOI]

Since the relatively recent renewal of my artistic/conceptual energy, I’ve been looking through some old projects and writing a bunch (won’t be posting that though). I am at last reintroducing NODOI and lnfnmo. It’s been about a 1.5 year break. I totally forgot how far I […]

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October 4, 2012 in Games, Research

Some definitions of games & Game

There are many many definitions of a game, most of which differ only subtly. Some are dependent on the definition of play, but that's a whole other discussion. Maybe I should have written about that first, oh well. Anyways, here are a few ways to define a game, accompanied by thoughts: Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman define a game as a "system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome". Conflict, rules, and a goal are the driving factors in about all definitions I've read. I think the unique part of this one is "quantifiable outcome" which would mean a goal. But saying "outcome" instead of goal, seems like you could get there without necessarily meaning to. I guess technically, there are games (like the card game War) you could win by just following the rules with no ambition.

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