Epistemic games & applied drama: Converging conventions for serious play

Cameron David Carroll John Wotzko Rebecca
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This paper describes a way to bridge the remaining conceptual gap between the conventions of digital games and those of non-theatrical drama forms, particularly when both fields are applied to non-entertainment settings. The approaches and literature surrounding both David Williamson Shaffer’s work in epistemic games and Dorothy Heathcote’s work in applied drama are compared. The teaching strategies in both approaches use a range of dramatic techniques that engage students in learning tasks which involve solving problems, and producing working content as if the students were professionals in a particular field of expertise. The similarities between the two pedagogies allow designers of serious digital games to borrow from frameworks in applied drama to further develop authentic learning experiences. A case study examines the application of these two pedagogies in the design of a Web-based game engine for the delivery of training scenarios.