Out of Context – Understanding the Practicalities of Learning Games

Marklund Björn
2014 DiGRA '14 - Proceedings of the 2014 DiGRA International Conference

The aim of this paper is to highlight the lack of studies examining the contexts in which learning games are used. Learning game research tends to focus heavily on the game artefact by examining how different types of designs foster both engagement and learning and how well the axiomatic definitions of good game design correspond to sound learning principles. While the dissection of the anatomy of games is important, there is an overabundance of studies on learning games as isolated systems at the expense of examinations of the constraints, possibilities, and requirements imposed by their real-world context of use. Learning games that are intended to work in formal settings like K-12 classrooms constitute systems that significantly differ from the traditional game scenarios between game artefacts and their players. As of yet few researchers have set out to survey these systems in their entirety. This paper presents a small literature review of learning game research that highlight the absence of studies focused on understanding the practicalities of the development and use of learning games. The paper also juxtaposes the results of the review with outcomes of a study conducted “within” the identified gap to present arguments for why the current lack of practical research is problematic.


Teacher roles in learning games – When games become situated in schools

Magnussen Rikke
2007 DiGRA '07 - Proceedings of the 2007 DiGRA International Conference: Situated Play

Using learning games in education gives rise to a learning situation where game culture meets school culture and the result can be successful or corrupting for both. In this paper I present a case study of school classes and their teachers playing the game 'Homicide', a game where children play the roles as forensic experts who solve a series of murder cases. When teachers use this type of games, they have to adapt to new teaching situations and roles. This includes the fictional role in a game, but also the role as a supervisor for a group of students that play the role as professional experts. I present examples of teachers who adopt different roles in the game, and discuss how understanding the background for these roles can help us define the game-based learning situation. Finally I discuss what consequences the problems presented here may have for the design of future learning games.


Participatory design and opposing interests in development of educational computer games

Magnussen Rikke Misfeldt Morten Buch Tasha
2003 DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up

In this study we have followed a participatory design process in a class of children aged 11 and 12. The development team, a group of Danish schoolteachers, invited the children to participate in the design of a computer game for mathematics education. The objective of the participatory design process was to have the children create a game close to their own interests, experiences and fantasies, hereby insuring that they would find the game interesting enough to play it in their spare time away from school. Prior to the design workshops, the development team had a discussion with one of their classes, and decided on a game of exploration where the player travels through time and space, and the purpose of the design process described in this paper was to develop this idea further. During this process it became clear that the teachers’ ideas in some sense differed from the children’s. In the teachers’ original concept, the landscape would represent the history of mathematics (e.g. ancient Egypt, Greece, China), whereas the children’s ideas, diverse though they were, evolved around a fantasy setting and tourist experiences. In this project there arose a conflict between a pedagogical goal and an attempt to understand the end-users world through research.


Design Guidelines for Learning Games: the Living Forest Game Design Case

Pereira Luís Lucas Roque Licínio Gomes
2009 DiGRA '09 - Proceedings of the 2009 DiGRA International Conference: Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory

Games have long been known for their potential in learning but, on the other hand, design challenges and issues in their use in real contexts have been recognized as well. In this paper we report on a design case for a learning game, “Living Forest”, targeted at exploring sociotechnical aspects of the relationship between Human settlements and forests. The player is presented with a management exercise where she can promote development while balancing social, economic and ecological aspects in forest space. As part of an ethnographic analysis of our development praxis we synthesized a set of guidelines for the design of serious games, i.e. games with learning purposes, that have requirements of fidelity to the Body-of-Knowledge about the phenomena being modelled and learned.


Learning Games as a Platform for Simulated Science Practice

Magnussen Rikke
2005 DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play

In recent years, science education has been the focus of study and development of new game-based learning environments. It has been argued that active and critical learning about rich semiotic systems, learning through learning communities and the complex problem-solving that good games involve, resemble science learning as being an active process of inquiry just as real life science practice. In this paper, I present the first studies from a test of the cross-disciplinary science educational game ‘Homicide’, a forensic investigation game developed at Learning Lab Denmark. The goal with Homicide is to use the game media to simulate an ‘authentic’ learning situation of science experts. In the game the players go through the process of inquiry similar to that of forensic experts. In this paper I present the first observations from a play test of Homicide and discuss the potential in this type of game-based learning spaces.