Digital Games for Education: When Meanings Play

de Castell Suzanne Jenson Jennifer Taylor Nicholas
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

This paper documents the development of an educationally focused web-based game, Contagion, detailing how such a practical development project has led us to re-theorize questions about what is "educational," and how and in what ways that relates to the ludic. With reference to and within the framework of design-based research, we detail here the challenges we encountered designing this "alternative" game, and how we came to see content, not simply as "what the game is about" but as essentially tied to and enacted through all aspects of the game. We argue that content, that is educationally valuable knowledge, is infused through all relational aspects of the game as the player's activities accomplishments: character selection, art, narrative, programming, goals, game structures and play. Each of these aspects and challenges of game-design are explored in an effort to show how knowledge is constructed through these inter-related elements, and to further understand how and why that might matter to future game development projects.


Recognizing New Literacies: Teachers and Students Negotiating the Creation of Video Games in School

Sanford Kathy Madill Leanna
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

Designing and creating video games in a high school classroom is fantasy for some students, but a reality in computer classes at a large sized Western Canadian high school. Classes of Information Technology and Programming have been engaging in video games as the entry point into learning programming skills. Powerful learning and teaching practises are apparent and through observations, interviews, and video recordings coupled with students' articulation of their process we have been carrying out the first year of a three year ethnographic research study of the educative value and potential of video games within a school setting.


Games as Technological Entry Point: A Case Study of Uzbekistan

Kolko Beth E. Thayer Alex
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

This paper considers cross-cultural patterns of game-playing activities. The paper is part of an overall argument regarding computer games as a possible technological entry point for novice users. In particular, increasing use of games in educational settings has drawn attention to the fact that computer games can be a way for young people to gain an initial exposure to computer technology. The paper discusses game-playing patterns in the US and South Korea in order to demonstrate that such patterns vary based on country. The paper then considers survey work conducted in March 2003 in Uzbekistan that presents a snapshot of game-playing activity in a country that is in early stages of computer technology adoption. This paper is part of a larger study that seeks to argue that game-playing, if fostered correctly, can serve as an effective point of entry to computer technology for youth in developing countries and in areas where computer penetration is relatively low.


Games and machinima in adolescents’ classrooms

Lacasa Pilar Martínez Rut Méndez Laura
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

This presentation identifies innovative educational practices when commercial video games, combined with other new or traditional technologies are present in the secondary education classrooms. The major goal of the project was to generate new knowledge about how to design scenarios, using commercial video games as the starting point, which may contribute to the development of new literacies when students work with specific curriculum contents. Our data has been analyzed exploring the machinima productions in order to analyze the relationships between the video productions, the game and, the gamers’ perspective about his/her own activity. To examine these strategies several dimensions have been considered in order to compare different approaches to machinima.


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.


Listen! – Improving the Cooperation between Game Designers and Audio Designers

Huiberts Sander
2011 DiGRA '11 - Proceedings of the 2011 DiGRA International Conference: Think Design Play

In the design research investigation Listen! the multi-disciplinary collaboration between game design and audio design students is researched. The research focuses on gathering more insight in the creative design process of game audio and presents general recommendations and pitfalls for the development of game audio.


Glitch Game Testers: African American Men Breaking Open the Console

DiSalvo Betsy James Guzdail Mark Mcklin Tom Meadows Charles Perry Kenneth Steward Corey Bruckman Amy S.
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Glitch Game Testers is a research project to develop a sustainable high school job program to train and employ high school students as game testers [1]. Our goal is to leverage the passion that young urban African American men have for video games into agency with technology. The first step is to encourage these young people to see the computation behind digital games and the second step is to offer a contextualized computing curriculum [2]. In this paper, we will present findings from formative work on the play practices of young African American men, introduce the Glitch Game Testers project, and report on preliminary findings from workshops. By looking at the intersection of race and gender in gaming practices, we have developed Glitch to specifically meet the cultural needs for young African American men.


DATAPLAY: Mapping Game Mechanics to Traditional Data Visualization

Macklin Colleen Wargaski Julia Edwards Michael Li Kan Yang
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

In William Playfair's 1786 book, The Commercial and Political Atlas, he states that information, “imperfectly acquired, is generally as imperfectly retained.” [6] Playfair is commenting on the failure of tables to represent comparative data in way that was useful to the reader. Since Playfair, many different forms of media have arisen beyond ink and paper. Yet printed charts (or their digital representations) remain, by far, the most commonly used tools of data visualization. Their evolution over many centuries has allowed them to achieve a degree of sophistication that time-based and interactive representations have yet to achieve. Is the supremacy of printed (or print-like) data visualization to remain unchallenged? Would it even need to be? The authors contend that new approaches may be possible, and even necessary, but would require tapping into a different way of learning that was not strictly about managing the short term visual and auditory memory of the readers [3]. This learning would involve less the experience of reading and more that of direct experience through play and games. Jesper Juul contends that all games are learning systems [2]. That is, to play a game and become good at it, the player must learn the necessary skills and strategies to overcome their opposition. If the goal of data visualization is educational, it may be possible to use specific types of games as ways of representing specific types of data. It may be possible for a player to learn the system of the game and the system of the information together. The authors have built three game prototypes that illustrate the ways in which different forms of data can be represented in the form of digital games. The first prototype, Kimono Colors, is based on data from a cross-referenced table that describes the types of ingredients used to create traditional Japanese dyes in the production of kimonos. The core mechanic [4] of the game has the player “fishing” for colors using one of several dyes the player has collected. By fishing for these colors, players learn the relationships between materials and the manufacture of dye. The second prototype, Mannahatta: The Game, asks players literally to walk around Manhattan and connect the living and non-living elements of a directed graph representing the ecology of the island 400 years ago. Played over an iPhone, users place themselves in the middle of the dataset they are piecing back together. The third prototype, Trees of Trade, uses data from two directed graphs of relationships, ecological and commercial, in a Brazilian Atlantic rain-forest ecosystem. The game involves the players re-establishing the trophic levels of the forest by navigating through the relationships and inserting the missing species on an idealized map. Through play, the user will better understand the elements of a system that is typically illustrated in a static, two dimensional directed graph illustration. Two questions stem from these prototypes: can data create play and can play enlighten data? To answer the first question affirmatively, we need to find evidence that a system created by data has the ability to produce “choice molecules” [4]. That is, in the form of a game, does the structure of data allow the player to make interesting choices about how to proceed as he or she navigates and elaborates the data? If so, then the data in question can create play, which in turn can drive the development of a full-fledged game. As for the second question, if the first answer holds, then the player is, in the course of a game, playing with the data. If the choices made available to a player are established in such a way that the player “levels up” through the information, then the achievement of the games goals will be coincident with the understanding of the data itself. By actively manipulating and using the data to win the game, the player will need to understand the facts and relationships inherent in the data itself, thus producing the desired educational outcome and a greater sensitivity to the systems that data represents.


Motivational Factors in Game Play in Two User Groups

Kellar Melanie Watters Carolyn Duffy Jack
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

Motivation is one of the driving forces behind the recent interest in games with educational goals. People willingly play complex games and we would like to channel that willingness to participate in complex challenges into the educational context. In this paper, we report on a survey administered to computer science and business students, two distinct groups of game players, in order to examine the role of motivation in electronic games. The results of the survey are presented, including a gaming profile of each group, as well as a series of design suggestions for educational games and activities that are based on these results.


Her own Boss: Gender and the Pursuit of Incompetent Play

Jenson Jennifer de Castell Suzanne
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

This paper examines gender and computer game playing, in particular questions of identity, access and playful engagement with these technologies. Because computer-based media are not only central tools for learning and work, and because games and simulations are increasingly being recruited as educational and instructional genres, it is likewise exceedingly important, from an educational equity standpoint to examine the ways in which rapidly evolving computer game-based learning initiatives threaten to compound and intensify girls’ computer disadvantage, a cumulative dis-entitlement from computer-based educational and occupational opportunities.