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meaningful play 2008 travel

Session Information

TitlePlayer-Centered Design for Instructional Games
Presenter(s)Robert Appelman, Indiana University
Sonny Kirkley, Information in Place, Inc.
TimeThursday, October 9, 2:45p-3:45p
DescriptionBy definition, meaningful play must end with meaning attained from the experience of play by someone. This also implies that there are goals for the experience and expectations of the outcome of play. Meaning itself may be defined widely depending upon the designer and the goals set forth by the development team. The continuum of meaning can stretch from the affective domain where the experience is challenging, fun, and even motivational, to the cognitive domain where the experience results in new insights, new knowledge and understanding. But, most important is the base assumption that the play experience must be meaningful in a predictable way for every player.

The focus of this presentation is the merging of two established design paths, Entertainment Game Design and Instructional Design, to achieve a meaningful learning experience that is engaging and meets the desired goals for and of each player thus necessitating a player-centered design. The merging of the two design paths requires an interdisciplinary collaborative design pipeline management focused on creating an engaging learning environment. It is the specific strategies for achieving this collaborative design within interdisciplinary arenas that we wish to illustrate through case studies and through sharing comparisons of the same interdisciplinary strategies found in Game Design curricula around the world.

Part 1: Cases in which the presenters have been involved serve as the basis for discussion:

Oceana (formerly referred to as Virtual Congress). A project funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, MacArthur Foundation and others to build a multiplayer role playing game about citizenship and democracy moved from being an MMO simulation of Congress to a fictional world to improve engagement and fun.

Virtual Astronaut Learning Platform. This National Science Foundation funded project teaches science and mathematics by immersing the players in a game environment set on Mars. This high fidelity environment is being built with the Unreal engine.

Hazmat Responder. A series of Flash-based mini games to teach skills/content related to response to hazardous materials incidents aimed at a corporate training environment.

Part 2: Dr. Appelman will use data from his study of the pedagogies and curricula applicable to this domain:

Film School Approach. This entails bringing together all of the art forms with the intent of creating a product that is superlative in every measure, and thus is the underlying goal of the school. (USC, Gotland U.)

Art School Approach. This focuses on creating innovative new forms in the game contexts that stimulate the senses and engage the player. (Aalborg U., Interactive Institute)

Design School Approach. All students in this paradigm are required to be exposed in the design and development process of all disciplines involved in game design prior to specialization in one or two. (Utrecht U. of Art Design)

Game Studies Approach. This approach is primarily analytical and reflective about how games are and how they are played instead of how to make them. Thus there is often a thrust to discuss and analyze games in terms of their theoretical base, which is especially true when serious games are the focus. (IT U. of Copenhagen)

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