This is an archive of a previous Meaningful Play. View current Meaningful Play.

Meaningful Play 2016 at Michigan State University


Meaningful Play 2016 includes thought-provoking presentations from leaders in academia and industry, peer-reviewed paper presentations, panel sessions (including academic and industry discussions), innovative workshops, roundtable discussions, and exhibitions of games.

Below is the detailed conference schedule. You can also view the abbreviated schedule.

Wednesday, October 19, 5:00p-7:00p

Early Registration Check-In

LocationEast Lansing Marriott at University Place Lobby
DescriptionGet a jump on the conference by picking up your registration materials early at the pre-conference Quello Center Lecture, taking place at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, Lincoln Room, 55 South Harrison Avenue, East Lansing, MI 48824.

NOTE: This event is within walking distance of the Marriott and MSU Union. It will likely take you less than 15 minutes to walk from the Marriott or MSU Union.

Thursday, October 20, 8:00a-9:00a

Registration Check-In and Continental Breakfast

LocationLobby (2nd floor of the MSU Union)
DescriptionThe registration table is outside of the Ballroom on the second floor of the MSU Union building.

NOTE: The registration table will be open across the conference day.

The breakfast is sponsored by the GameDev @ MSU.

Thursday, October 20, 9:00a-9:30a

Conference Welcome

LocationMSU Union Ballroom
DescriptionThe conference organizing committee will welcome you and kick-off an exciting conference.

Thursday, October 20, 9:30a-10:30a

Using Meaningful Play to Impact New Technology Applications

LocationMSU Union Ballroom

Jacquelyn Ford MorieDr. Jacquelyn Ford Morie is widely known for using technology such as Virtual Reality (VR) to deliver meaningful experiences that enrich people's lives. Starting in 1990, she developed multi-sensory techniques for VR that can predictably elicit emotional responses from participants, for example inventing a scent collar that can deliver scents to a participant within an immersive experience. She is also active in online 3D virtual worlds (social VR) and through her company All These Worlds, LLC, has been bringing her techniques to such worlds for Mindfulness applications, storytelling and stress relief for veterans and soldiers. Along with SIFT (Smart Information Flow Technologies), she has created a virtual world ecosystem called ANSIBLE for NASA designed to provide psychological benefits for future astronauts who will undertake extremely long isolated missions to Mars. ANSIBLE is currently being tested in an analog facility called HISEAS in Hawaii, where a team of six scientists is sequestered for a full year to simulate the conditions of isolation on Mars, including communications delays.

Dr. Morie's other research interests include how space, identity and play in virtual worlds can positively affect our human nature, and she has presented this work at conferences worldwide. She has appeared in 2 films: The Mindfulness Movie (2013) and Dsknectd (2013) as herself. Her newest startup, The Augmented Traveler, is focused on bringing a product to market that will enhance the way people experience travel to all corners of the world.

DescriptionPlay, particularly unstructured free play, has a demonstrated positive effect on the mental and physical well-being of children. And yet technology tends to offer mostly structured activities for children. Examples like Pokémon Go, which is both structured and yet allows for multiple aspects of unstructured play, may point to a new and engaging hybrid form of play. Virtual Reality too, in its true experiential form, is also a medium that allows for a range of unstructured experiences. In creating new forms of technology-mediated play for future generations we should implement techniques from what we know about meaningful play to provide opportunities that enrich and expand horizons of play for all.

"I believe that if you don't derive a deep sense of purpose from what you do, if you don't come radiantly alive several times a day, if you don't feel deeply grateful at the tremendous good fortune that has been bestowed on you, then you are wasting your life. And life is too short to waste." -- Srikumar Rao

Thursday, October 20, 10:30a-11:00a


Thursday, October 20, 11:00a-12:00p

The Nature and Boundaries of Play Science

LocationMSU Union Ballroom

Dr. Stuart BrownDr. Stuart Brown

Trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry and clinical research, he first discovered the importance of play by discerning its absence in a carefully studied group of homicidal young males, beginning with the University of Texas Tower mass murderer, Charles Whitman. He later became founding Clinical Director and Chief of Psychiatry at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center and an Associate Professor at UCSD in San Diego, California. Over the course of his clinical career, he interviewed thousands of people to capture their play profiles. His cataloging of their profiles demonstrated the active presence of play in the accomplishments of the very successful and also identified negative consequences that inevitably accumulate in a play-deprived life.

As he ended his clinical career, he believed that play could be the key to discovering the giftedness that is in everyone, but he realized that identifying the importance of play hadn't really fully revealed what play is. So, in 1989 upon leaving clinical medicine, he decided to pursue play in greater depth.

He was surprised that much of the play-related research he reviewed was fragmented and lacked quantitative confirmation of factors readily observed clinically. A science and evidence-based way of understanding and suggesting how to improve play hygiene was and still is lacking. He turned to animal play research to gain insights into human play.

With the support of the National Geographic Society and Jane Goodall, he observed animal play in the wild. He became acquainted with the premier animal play experts in the world, and began to see play as a long evolved behavior important for the well being and survival of animals. He subsequently came to understand that humans are uniquely designed by nature to enjoy and participate in play throughout life.

DescriptionWhat are some "deep" basic principles that form the foundations of our universe? Emergent self-organizing systems, from the Big Bang to all life processes, are indeed foundational. By viewing the major elements of complex life-- from cellular division to the immune system, to sleep and dreaming and yes, to PLAY-- the building blocks, boundaries and nature of play behavior become evident. Fundamental to being human is our design for and need of play as a grounding foundation necessary for human wholeness. It fuels engagement, creativity, adaptation, cognition, emotion and the body. The benefits of a well played life, and the consequences of major play deprivation need to be understood by all game designers.

This featured speaker is sponsored by the Jackson National Life Insurance Company.

Design and Play Together

LocationMSU Room
Paper 1

This game is not for me: Non-participation in EVE Online
By: Kelly Bergstrom

When not played for profit (e.g. professional e-sports, competitive tournaments, goldfarming, etc.) digital games are typically considered to be leisure activities. This in turn usually leads to playing or not playing typically being viewed as an autonomous choice motivated by individual preferences for how one spends their time not occupied by work or domestic obligations. This idea of an unfettered choice of games and absolute freedom to play has been complicated by studies using a critical feminist lens to illustrate how social forces continue to write digital gameplay as a primarily heterosexual white masculine space outside of a very narrow definition of games deemed “acceptable” for female play (Chess, 2010; Jenson & de Castell, 2008). While a growing body of interventionist literature documents new entry points for girls and women into traditionally masculine play spaces (Gray, 2012; Jenson, Fisher, & de Castell, 2011; Kafai, 2008) or making games of their own (Fisher & Harvey, 2013; Harvey & Fisher, 2013; Harvey & Shepherd, 2016), these investigations are primarily focused on current game players. What is less understood is how current players came to their particular game(s) of choice, and their reasons for not playing other games. Using the space-themed Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) EVE Online as a case study and an analytical framework provided by the long history of investigations into and theorizing of barriers and constraints to participation by leisure scholars (Crawford, Jackson, & Godbey, 1991; Henderson & Gibson, 2013), I argue for the importance of accounting for non-players in the study of digital games.

Paper 2

Player Skill Decomposition in Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas
By: Zhengxing Chen, Yizhou Sun, Magy Seif El-Nasr and Truong-Huy D. Nguyen

Successful analysis of player skills in video games has important impacts on the process of enhancing player experience without undermining their continuous skill development. Moreover, player skill analysis becomes more intriguing in team-based video games because such form of study can help discover useful factors in effective team formation. In this paper, we consider the problem of skill decomposition in MOBA (MultiPlayer Online Battle Arena) games, with the goal to understand what player skill factors are essential for the outcome of a game match. To understand the construct of MOBA player skills, we utilize various skill-based predictive models to decompose player skills into interpretative parts, the impact of which are assessed in statistical terms. We apply this analysis approach on two widely known MOBAs, namely League of Legends (LoL) and Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA2). The finding is that base skills of in-game avatars, base skills of players, and players’ champion-specific skills are three prominent skill components influencing LoL’s match outcomes, while those of DOTA2 are mainly impacted by in-game avatars’ base skills but not much by the other two.

Paper 3

Finding Design Influence within Roguelike Games
By: Xavier Ho, Martin Tomitsch and Tomasz Bednarz

Our work takes the view of video games as a collection of creative ideas, acting as design influence which shapes future games. We examine a popular game genre, roguelikes, from which games found their roots in early stages of the Internet. Our aim is to investigate design influence within the roguelike genre. To achieve this aim, we wrote a script to collect not only data about roguelike games, but also infer the connections between them. We achieved this by using search engines to locate interviews and post-mortem articles, and automated an analysis by frequency of game appearances and their public metadata. To disseminate the results, we employed a series of data visualisations in order to illustrate roguelike influence over the years. Our contribution from this study is twofold: first, connecting roguelike design influence spanning over thirty years using a simple metric, summarised in four different types of visualisations; second, an open-source visualisation tool to investigate design influence in roguelike games, which can be generalised for media studies exhibited on the wider Internet.

First Person Researcher (part 1)

LocationHuron Room
Presenter(s)Stephanie Coopman, Ted Coopman, Rio Garcia, Spencer Lofting, Wesley Rodriguez and Tyler Lofting
DescriptionLed by two faculty and four student researchers, participants will develop research skills essential to designing meaningful play. Participants will complete micro studies of games in this two-session workshop--one session the first day of the conference and the second session the last day. Participants will be introduced to multiple methods for generating rich data that can provide insights into game impacts and consequences, the effectiveness of game design, player styles and experiences, and strategies for creating better games. Workshop participants will earn points and badges as they progress through the workshop's levels and a certificate of completion at the end of the second session.

Game and Gameplay Analysis

LocationSuperior Room
Paper 1

Antagonists' Physical Characteristics in Video Games: Comparing Villains from 2006 and 2015
By: Hannah Evers and Joshua Estill

Video games of today's generation have many different types of characters involved in game play. One of the most important characters is the antagonist. Today's video games are full of stereotypes, although researchers have only recently begun looking at stereotypes relating to gender, race, and body-type in video games. Thus far, previous studies have examined representation of gender, body type, and race in antagonists from various forms of media such as television and film, which leaves out information from video game antagonists throughout the years. When comparing data from 2006 and 2015 it is clear that the certain characteristics of the antagonists has changed over the decade for these games. In both 2006 and 2015 as well, most of the human antagonists' races were white males. White antagonists have begun to appear more over the course of 10 years. Based off of previous research as well as our own, there appears to be a pattern when it comes to male antagonists in various forms of media, such as video games. We also found that body types of antagonists have become more varied in 2015 as compared to 2006.

Paper 2

The State of Escape: Escape Room Design and Facilities
By: Scott Nicholson

Escape rooms are live-action team-based games where players discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to accomplish a specific goal (usually escaping from the room) in a limited amount of time. This paper presents the results from a survey answered by 175 escape room facilities from around the world about their facilities. The paper highlights different themes, demographics of players, room features, and other design patterns popular in escape rooms during 2015. Given the rapid growth and evolution of escape rooms, this paper serves to document the current state of this phenomenon.

Paper 3

A Social Nightmare: Player 2 as the Ghost in the Machine (Top Paper Award)
By: Andrew Kemp

This paper conducts an examination of the unusual play mechanics of two horror video games, Ju-on and Daylight, that have elected to give second players shared control over the nature of the scares. By exploring the game studies theory of the ludic-gothic and the rhetorical theory of communication apprehension, this paper argues that by sharing the fundamental emotional and power relationships of the game, Player 2's role becomes synchronized with the machine itself, becoming, in essence, an extension of the game's coded mechanics. The relationship between Player 1 and Player 2 is therefore transformed as well, as the social relationship and apprehensive and affective nightmare of social interaction, become spaces of play beyond the space of the screen and the controller. The paper proposes implications about the shared meaning of social gameplay.

Metaphor and Transformational Game Design

LocationLake Michigan
Presenter(s)Amy Shannon, Geoff Kaufman and Jessica Hammer
DescriptionIn this roundtable, we will discuss techniques and best practices for using metaphor in games. What positive and negative exemplars exist for using metaphor in transformational games? What types of problems lend themselves to metaphorical game design, and which are more challenging? How do we approach content metaphors and mechanical metaphors, and how are they different in practice? Given that players co-­create the meaning of metaphors, how can we evaluate our metaphorical success during playtesting? What are best practices for supporting players in unpacking metaphors, and in addressing player­-generated explanations that are at odds with the designer’s goals for the game? What design spaces for metaphor in transformational games remain unexplored?

Identity in Games

LocationLake Ontario
Paper 1

Character Creation Systems, and Their Portrayal of Race, Gender, Body Types, Disabilities, and Age
By: Zachary Abbott and Trent Cornwell

In recent years, video games have become an increasingly large part of everyday media, with US video games sales reaching over 22 billion dollars in 2014 (Entertainment Software Association). The level of impact on the economy is mirrored by the impact that it has on culture. The research conducted for this study focuses around the concept of character creation systems, and their portrayal of race, gender, body types, disabilities, and age. There is a running theme of predominantly white, male protagonists in games that lack the option for players to customize their characters. In addition to the effect on youth development, one may look towards the effect that games have on self-identification across the age spectrum. Because of the diverse group of players a game may have, one may expect to see a range of race, gender, body types, disabilities, and age in video games. Very few studies have been conducted in regards to disabilities in contemporary games. This study focused on the concept of character creation systems, and their portrayal of race, gender, body types, disabilities, and age.

Paper 2

Ageism in Video Games: The Relationship Between Age and Character Roles
By: Alexander Hambly and Matthew Heerdegen

In our society people often unconsciously establish a list of tropes and archetypes for other people and events in our lives. These tropes establish a series of stereotypes along with a certain status quo within both the media and reality for how characters and, by extension, the people they represent should act. Society is adept at creating stereotypes that are often accepted unconsciously as the norm in our world. These stereotypes form from misrepresentation in media and they can be very harmful. Misrepresentation of groups in media often stems from negative or limited roles that are assigned to characters representing them. The research question at the center of this study was: what relationship, if any, is there between age and the role characters are assigned in video games? The results show that while there were no elderly characters in a “player” role, 63% of recorded elderly characters had what qualified as ‘minor’ roles in the games played for this study. The study found 91% of characters with a determined age consisted of adults or young adults. The study also found that 73% of recorded elderly characters were male. Similar to previous data, adults were a majority in all archetypes and occupied a definitive majority of the player characters. We found that our data largely matched the results of previous studies for films, TV, and books and only differed in a few minor areas.

Paper 3

Through a Pensieve Darkly: Women & Games, Patterns & Links
By: Jennifer Jenson, Suzanne de Castell, Kelly Bergstrom and Emily Flynn-Jones

This paper reports the findings of a survey on diversity in the games industry that immediately preceded the eruption of the “gamergate” wars, then contextualizes contemporary ‘women and games’ debates within a more expansive historical analysis of gendered inequality. Its purpose is to retrieve and recuperate feminist strategies and tactics that risk being overlooked or forgotten as public interest in the gamergate phenomenon wanes, leaving in its wake a reductive and misdirected understanding of both the problem and its possible solutions.

Paper 4

You Are Creepy, but I Will Accept You: A Study of the Effect of Time, Non Player Character Gender and Its Hostility on the Uncanniness Perception
By: Michael Lee

Characters in most role-playing games are often implausible. This is especially true of female non-player characters, which seem to be especially creepy and unpleasant. As with traditional mediums such as television, female characters in video games are often depicted as sex objects (Beasley & Collins, 2002; Dietz, 1998). Most game-character-related research has revealed evidence that female game characters are either underrepresented or stereotypically designed. However, we can easily find examples in which the uncanny feeling goes away quickly over the short amount of time. In this paper, the Non Player Character uncanniness was measured two times with four NPCs selected randomly from a commercial role-playing game to measure the effect of the number of exposures. The sensation of uncanniness was evoked quickly and strongly at the first exposure but significantly decreased in the second exposure. Also, study participants evaluated female NPCs as creepier than male NPCs.

Thursday, October 20, 12:00p-1:30p

Birds of a Feather Lunch (on your own)

DescriptionThursday lunch is not provided. Take this time to socialize with your fellow conference attendees while enjoying the many dining venues within downtown East Lansing.

If you are interested in lunching with like minded individuals, there will be Birds of a Feather meet-up signs in the lobby. Meet at one of the signs and go to lunch together. The groups include:

  • Learning and Education
  • Health Games
  • Research and Funding
  • Design and Development
  • Students
  • Virtual Reality

Thursday, October 20, 1:30p-2:30p

Using the Fundamental Pyramid to Create Engaging Games

LocationMSU Union Ballroom
Presenter(s)Jared Riley
DescriptionAttendees will walk away with a better understanding of what “fun” is, and how to apply it to their design process via the Fundamental Pyramid. By focusing on what's most important at each stage of design they can drastically reduce iteration time while having the confidence that they are creating much more fun and engaging projects.

Exercise and Physical Engagement

LocationMSU Room
Paper 1

Exerwalls - an Exercise Alternative to Paywalls in Mobile Games
By: Anthony Gallo, Philipp Baumann, Emmanuel Agu and Mark Claypool

Many mobile games implement paywalls, a monetization strategy whereby players are periodically forced to stop playing the game for a short period of time unless payments are made. While potentially effective at generating revenue, our survey results of over 50 people found that paywalls can frustrate players, reducing player retention and overall game ratings. As an alternative to the classic paywall, we propose an exerwall where players have the additional option of exercising to continue playing. The goal is to encourage physical activity, which is often reduced by playing games, while mitigating player frustration with paywalls. We designed and developed a mobile game called Laser Planets to evaluate the viability of exerwalls, incorporating walking as an alternative to waiting to continue play. Our week-long evaluation with over 20 players shows that exerwalls can be successful at both reducing frustration and increasing physical activity, and could potentially be used to integrate exercising into games that currently use paywalls.

Paper 2

Attitudes Toward Software-Generated Exercise Partners During High-Intensity Training
By: Stephen Samendinger, Christopher Hill, Brian Winn, Alison Ede, Norbert Kerr, James Pivarnik, Lori Ploutz-Snyder and Deborah Feltz

Active video games, utilizing SGPs, may be an effective modality to aid in motivating adults participating in high-intensity training. However, just as with human exercise companions, attitudes toward one’s companion may affect participation in the activity. Therefore, SGP characteristics should be designed to avoid interfering with the participant-SGP relationship during this intense exercise. This study demonstrated that SGPs can be successfully implemented with HIT protocols in an active adult community sample. Participants liked their exercise partners and found them attractive, not eerie, while recognizing the SGP was not human-like.

This study was supported by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, through NASA NCC-9-58.

Paper 3

Physical Engagement Increases Rapport in Multimodal Interactions
By: Ivan Gris, David Novick, and Adriana Camacho

For developers of meaningful games, higher levels of engagement can keep players interacting with the game, thus achieving the game’s intended learning outcomes. And for games based on the technology of embodied conversational agents (ECAs), higher levels of engagement could lead to increased rapport between the player and the agent, again increasing play. Rapport is a complex and extensive behavioral state of affinity, synchronicity, coordination and mutual understanding that is difficult to model, measure and interpret. In this paper we present how full-body physical engagement helps build rapport and engagement by establishing a stronger sense of emotional connection between players and virtual characters.

The Transformational Framework: A Pre-production Process for Teams Working on Transformational Games (part 1)

LocationHuron Room
Presenter(s)Sabrina Culyba
DescriptionThis 2-hour workshop introduces participants to the Transformational Framework, a tool used at Schell Games for creating transformational games and experiences that change players. Teams working on these projects often struggle with issues like:

  • Working with diverse stakeholders
  • Balancing design for transformation AND engagement
  • Representing unfamiliar domain content
  • Defining what it means to be successful

The Transformational Framework is a pre-production process developed to prepare game development teams to address these challenges.

Tour of MSU Libraries Rovi Game Collection

LocationSuperior Room
DescriptionThis session will meet in the Superior Room but then quickly proceed on foot to the MSU Library for a tour of the Rovi Game Collection. Coordinator Jonah Magar will show the currently open gaming labs, and talk about the collection—what’s available now, what isn’t, and why. (Note: The tour can only accommodate 30 people max due to the size of the space.)

The Rovi Gaming Collection consists of more than 17,000 console and PC games created between approximately 1993 and 2015, with a few titles dating to the mid-1980s. The collection includes numerous consoles, specialized peripherals, and associated collectors editions and advertising materials. The number of titles and associated consoles are represented here:

The Rovi Media Collection was donated to the MSU Libraries in March 2015 by the Rovi Corporation. In addition to over 17,000 video games, it includes nearly 700,000 music CDs, and more than 160,000 DVDs, and is one of the largest publicly-accessible media collections in the world.

So What? An Inductive Approach to Developing Models for Serious Game Assessment

LocationLake Michigan
Presenter(s)Rose Marra
DescriptionGames have been touted as having much potential to engage learners in meaningful ways (e.g. Gee, 2007). Further there is a growing body of research regarding the effectiveness of games. However, if games are to achieve their promise in K-12 and undergraduate education (McGonical, 2007; Willis, 2011), to

  • harness problem solving and investigation skills from gaming and apply them to real problems
  • counteract boredom (alternatively, improve engagement) with the challenges of the multiple levels of game based learning.
  • meet learners “where they are” with incremental content paths
  • Promote creativity and collaboration.

teachers need to be able to use learning assessment methods with these games (DiCerbo, 2014). Here I distinguish between research study measurement conducted around the effectiveness of gaming (Chin, Dukes & Gamson, 2009; Connolly, et al., 2012) and the kinds of assessments that teachers need. Research studies might gather interviews, software analytics and specialized pre and post tests. Teacher educators need practical and usable assessments to accompany or be integrated into the educational games they use. As DiCerbo said, “games and game data often exist in a silo”. They aren’t used for the measurement and reporting tasks that educators are required to do.

The goal of this roundtable Presentation / discussion will be to discuss the results of an inductive examination of the ways educators are garnering assessment data from educational uses of games. For this preliminary examination, we will gather data via

  • Reading and participating in game forums for commonly used educational games (e.g. Minecraft, SimCityEDU) to read about educational usages of these games and gather and query teachers as to how assessment data (if at all) is being gathered via or with game usage.
  • Contacting teachers via gaming community forums and asking them to complete a short survey (with a small monetary incentive provided) regarding assessment methods and gaming.

The author will bring an analysis of the data to the round table with the The goal of this initial study and discussion will be to generate a view of how assessment is currently happening with games and then to propose a practical model and set of educator practices for conducting assessment with the use of games.


Chin, J., Dukes, R., & Gamson, W. (2009). Assessment in Simulation and Gaming A Review of the Last 40 Years. Simulation & Gaming, 40(4), 553-568.

Connolly, T. M., Boyle, E. A., MacArthur, E., Hainey, T., & Boyle, J. M. (2012). A systematic literature review of empirical evidence on computer games and serious games. Computers & Education, 59(2), 661-686.

DiCerbo, K. (2014) .All Fun & Games? Understanding Learner Outcomes Through Educational Games. Edutopia.

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Computers in Entertainment (CIE), 1(1), 20-20.

McGonigal, J. (2007). Gamers have skills. Let's tap 'em.Christian Science Monitor.

Willis, J. (2011). A Neurologist makes the case for video game model as a learning tool”. Brain based learning – Edutopia;

Games and Cognition

LocationLake Ontario
Paper 1

Examining Specific Features of Video Games Which May Improve Task Switching
By: Nigel Robb and Kate A. Woodcock

The ability to switch between two tasks, or to switch between two ways of thinking about a set of stimuli, is one which we rely on heavily in our everyday lives and employment. This task switching ability is an executive function: a high-level cognitive process that coordinates and modulates other cognitive processes. Skill in task switching is positively associated with academic achievement and intelligence. Cognitive tests have been developed to measure task switching, and such tests regularly show that switching incurs a cost: an initial reduction in performance on the new task. Improving task switching so that such costs are reduced could have wide benefits for the general population. Additionally, specific deficits in task switching are shown in individuals with several neurodevelopmental disorders and may be linked to challenging behaviour in these disorders, suggesting that improving task switching could form an important part of a successful intervention strategy. A recent study found that, among novice players, those who trained on the action video games Unreal Tournament 2004 (UT2004) and Call of Duty 2 (COD2) showed greater improvements in task switching than those who trained on the life simulation game The Sims 2 (including the expansion pack The Sims 2: Open for Business). This suggests that playing UT2004 and COD2 involves engaging in activities that lead to greater improvements in task switching than playing The Sims 2. This study is one of several that have demonstrated greater improvements in task switching following training on action video games, as opposed to other kinds of video game.

Paper 2

Gaming the SySTEM: The Relationship Between Video Games and the Digital and STEM Divides
By: Christopher Ball, Kuo-Ting Huang, Shelia Cotten and R.V. Rikard

STEM careers are increasingly vital for our ability to remain competitive and innovative in the 21st century. The growing need for STEM workers has resulted in substantial increases in wages/benefits for those pursuing jobs in these fields. Despite the growing demand and lucrative nature of STEM fields, minorities have remained traditionally underrepresented in STEM careers. The STEM divide has been connected with another detrimental divide, the digital divide. Video games have been used for decades to teach complex concepts, critical thinking capabilities, and increase topical self-efficacy. In this study we use Social Cognitive Theory to frame normal video gameplay as an “enactive experience” which results in greater technology self-efficacy. More specifically, we explore how normal video game experience is connected to computer self-efficacy and emotional costs, which have in turn been connected to the digital and STEM divides. Data were gathered during a large-scale computing intervention which sought to increase students’ interest in STEM fields. The teacher based computing intervention taught teachers to integrate computing into their classrooms, including the use of computer games. The intervention was located in a large urban elementary school district in the southeastern United States. Our results indicate that video game experience does have an effect on STEM attitudes via the mediating role of computer self-efficacy and emotional costs. Video gameplay, regardless of topical content, can be beneficial for young digitally divided populations as it provides them with positive enactive experiences with technology. Future interventions should consider the use of video games to help simultaneously reduce both the digital and STEM divides.

Thursday, October 20, 2:30p-3:00p


Thursday, October 20, 3:00p-4:00p

History Shaping Design

LocationMSU Union Ballroom
Presenter(s)Julia Keren-Detar
DescriptionThis talk is a combination of two talks that I had given at GDC based around how culture can shape games and how games in turn can shape culture. We tend to look over early American board games for their perceived simplicity in game designs and systems. Looking back at this history we find that games were used to reaffirm as well as were affected by our value structures. Some of those, such as the negative association with dice, changed how those games looked and functioned. Those value structures can also be changed by the people playing games as well. A great example of this was the rise of Western Chess in medieval Europe and the changing of gender roles. With this understanding it is important for us to be aware of the role culture has on what we are developing. How are the games we make now going to be seen 100 years from now? What values are we challenging or reaffirming? Is what our games saying what we really want to communicate?

Relationships and Sexual Exploitation in Games

LocationMSU Room
Paper 1

A Matched Set: Romantic Couples Play in MMOGs
By: Kelly Bergstrom, Jennifer Jenson, Nicholas Taylor and Suzanne De Castell

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) have been a fruitful venue to study social interactions ranging from small temporary groups, to larger, more permanent in-game social collectives such as guilds or clans. Much of this literature is focused on strangers becoming friends through MMOG play, yet comparatively little is known about gameplay-based interactions between pre-existing romantic couples. To address these gaps, in this paper we describe the results of two studies: (1) small qualitative investigation of the avatars made by twelve romantic couples to illustrate that collaboration is apparent from as early as the avatar-design phase of MMOG play and (2) a quantitative investigation of the in-game actions and collaborations between romantic pairings as they played the fantasy MMOG RIFT. Taken together, these two investigations add much-needed insights to the oft-overlooked play habits of collocated romantic pairs who play MMOGs as part of their shared leisure time.

Paper 2

Participatory research and design across disciplines: Collaborative team processes and the development of a game-based commercial sexual exploitation of children prevention tool
By: Jessica Wendorf Muhamad, Lien Tran and Maria Elena Villar

Sexual exploitation of children represents a significant global problem, with an estimated 1.8 million children exploited each year (ECPAT, 2016), with children living in areas of armed conflict particularly vulnerable. Due to the multifarious nature of commercial sexual exploitation of children, this study benefited from moving away from traditional methodologies and employs a game-based approach. After 18-months of research and design in Colombia, a transdisciplinary team developed a role-playing game, Por Nuestras Calles, in which participants gain a deeper understanding of risk factors and reporting mechanisms. By creating a space where participants can think ‘as someone else,’ new avenues for collaboration can be explored. This paper details formative research involved in game development, team processes, and lessons learned.

Paper 3

Reconocer: Creating safe spaces for the recognition of sexual abuse (Top Paper Award)
By: Jessica Wendorf Muhamad

Currently, close to 20,000 children are victims of sexual exploitation in Colombia, with 3 of every 4 cases of sexual violence reported being cases initiated by a member of the child’s nuclear family (ICBF, 2014). In 2013, 83% of the cases included girls under the age of 18, with 71% of the girls being 14 years or younger (Medicina Legal, 2013). Perhaps even more alarming, current data indicates that every hour approximately two girls are sexually abused. In an effort to contribute to the existing sexual violence prevention efforts, as well as developing a psycho-social tool for mental health practitioners, health care professionals, and young girls in Colombia, emerges Reconocer (“Recognize” in Spanish) a culturally tailored, tabletop role-playing game for pregnant and postpartum girls (ages 11-18), whose pregnancy is a result of intrafamilial sexual abuse.

The Transformational Framework: A Pre-production Process for Teams Working on Transformational Games (part 2)

LocationHuron Room
Presenter(s)Sabrina Culyba
DescriptionContinuation of Part 1 of this workshop.

Teaching Game Design to Various Audiences

LocationSuperior Room
Presenter(s)Jeremy Bond (moderator), Brian Winn, Luke Kane, and Carrie Heeter
DescriptionJoin our panel of experts as they explore various methods of teaching game design and development to students of all ages. Learn about how teaching strategies differ based on the age and background of the students. The panel is composed of experts in everything from grade school through post-graduate education who discuss the methods that have worked well (and poorly) for them over their years of teaching. Attendees will walk away with a concrete understanding of how to tailor game design and development education to whatever audience they have. The panel will also include Q&A time for attendees to ask specific questions about strategies for non-traditional audiences.

Finding Meaning in Emergent Play and What That Means for Design

LocationLake Michigan
Presenter(s)Mark Chen, Krista-Lee Malone, Kelly Tran and Liz Owens Boltz
DescriptionThis roundtable discussion will focus on play that happens at the margins, which often goes counter to intended designed activities yet results in rich, meaningful experiences for players. Designers and researchers of games often focus on effective design in regards to certain goals, such as: best practices for teaching with games, social action, engagement (“fun”), just to name a few. As with previous research (Carter, Bergstrom, & Woodford, 2016; Chen, 2012; Malaby, 2009; Malone, in prep; Morningstar & Farmer, 1991; Steinkuehler, 2006; Taylor, 2006), when we looked at situated player practice--whether in specific learning environments (i.e. classrooms and afterschool clubs) or in the world of gaming at large--we have found cases that bring nuance to how players engage with games. These emergent practices can inform general design how-tos as well as highlight alternative (i.e. non-normative) uses for games, both educational and commercial.

The cases and experiences we’ll describe include: 1) using live-streaming to broadcast a female-dominated tabletop role-playing group, touching on gender performance and non-normative uses of Twitch; 2) work on a new web/book project that aims to document and share esoteric gaming practices ( as a way to highlight diversity in gaming culture; 3) a look at the design tensions that emerged while developing a game meant to engage people in complex ethical decision making, conflict resolution, and global issues; and 4) an examination of the communities around Pokémon Go, in which players make up for the lack of explicit instruction in the game through spontaneous distributed teaching and learning.

After describing our particular cases, the audience will be asked to share theirs as well. This will be followed by a discussion on how diverse sources of meaning-making in games can happen and what this means for our roles as educators and designers. We will ask how educators and designers can better prepare or allow for emergent meaningful play. When is it something to mitigate vs. something to encourage? How do we assess learning outcomes or study the meaning making in situated contexts when often we have specific external outcomes that we’re designing for?

Game Characters and Avatars

LocationLake Ontario
Paper 1

Autism in Video Games: With an Analysis of Characters
By: Jake Hilligoss and Luke Grebe

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological disorder with a diagnosis rate that has been rising over the past decade from 1 in 150 children to 1 in 68 children in the United States. Those with autism have some representation and misrepresentation in the older forms of media, but the question is how they are represented in newer media. Specifically, the question is on how they are represented. So far, there seems to be no complete research on ASD being represented in video games. That is, are they efficiently and fairly represented as playable characters in games or are they underrepresented or misrepresented? The results show that most characters (68.2%) each show 1-3 of the characteristics of ASD. There are a few that do not have any of the listed symptoms built in, but are player choice. However, if measuring by built-in symptoms, most of the characters have very few ASD symptoms and therefore do not display characteristics of ASD. The study determined that video games do not under-represent or misrepresent people with ASD if measuring by player choice.

Paper 2

2014-2015 Video Game Character Census
By: James Klock and Caleb Sams

The number of people who play video games has been increasing steadily in the past few years. In 2014, for example, 59% of US citizens were found to play video games (ESA, 2014). In 2009 Williams, Martins, Consalvo, and Ivory conducted a study on racial diversity in video games and found that the population of video games vastly underrepresented the american population. This follow-up study was designed to see if any progress has been made in racial diversity in video games since 2009. The award winning games in The Game Awards 2014 and 2015 were examined for their portrayal of characters and diversity of races as well as how the races are represented within their context (2014). White females increased in the video game population by 5% from the 2009 study but were still vastly under represented. There was a lack of Hispanic/Latino representation only 0.46% in both primary characters and all characters. Racial diversity was found to be statistically different from the 2009 study and the U.S. census. Although race as a whole improved since the 2009 study, it did not match the 2010 U.S. census. Primary player representation also differed significantly from the U.S. census. Hispanic/Latino characters were the least accurately represented race, although this might be due to limitations.

Paper 3

The Emancipated Avatar: The Virtual Theatre of The Witness
By: Sierra Ortega

The Witness (released January 26, 2016) is an immersive 3D puzzle game created by developer Jonathon Blow. What has been described as a daunting, confounding, and maddening game represents a new wave of innovative, thought- provoking video game design that holds many implications for the future of entertainment and what it means to engage with spectacle. Video games represent a kind of digital neo-theatre with players embodying the spirit of the Boalian spect-actor. They observe action and they create action, simultaneously. The Witness, and its facilitation of digital being through an avatar, allows a player to achieve a state of emancipation (as proposed by Jacques Ranciere) in ways that are impossible through corporeal theatrical practices. We are all just observers of this world around us. We are all spectators; all witnesses. The avatar of The Witness, that is to say the player, which is to say ourselves, reaches this state of emancipation through an active movement through and engagement with the game’s environment. We are totally immersed in its spectacle; we have total ignorance of our place inside of it; and thus, we must practice total inquiry of it.

Thursday, October 20, 4:00p-4:30p


Thursday, October 20, 4:30p-5:30p

Game-Designing the Game Design Class

LocationMSU Union Ballroom

Richard LemarchandRichard Lemarchand is a game designer, an educator, a writer, a public speaker and a consultant. He is an Associate Professor in the USC Games program, and is the Associate Chair of the Interactive Media & Games Division of the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. Between 2004 and 2012, Richard was a lead game designer at Naughty Dog in Santa Monica, California. He led the design of all three PlayStation 3 games in the Uncharted series including Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves - winner of ten AIAS Interactive Achievement Awards, five Game Developers Choice Awards, four BAFTAs and over 200 Game of the Year awards. Richard also worked on Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Jak 3 and Jak X: Combat Racing for Naughty Dog, and helped to create the successful game series Gex, Pandemonium and Soul Reaver at Crystal Dynamics in the San Francisco Bay Area. Richard now teaches game design, development and production in the USC Games program, and is working on a series of experimental game design research projects as part of the USC Game Innovation Lab. His most recent game, The Meadow, a virtual reality art installation game co-created with Martzi Campos, was selected as a finalist in the 2015 IndieCade International Festival of Independent Games. Learn more about Richard.

DescriptionFor more than two decades, Richard Lemarchand worked as a game designer in the console game industry, working for companies like Naughty Dog and Crystal Dynamics on titles as diverse as Gex and Uncharted. In 2012 he made a sudden and quite radical change of career, becoming a full-time professor in the USC Games program at the University of Southern California. Faced with the challenge of revising old classes and creating new ones, Lemarchand turned to what he knew best—game design—not to gamify the curriculum, but to bring principles of human-centered design to his classes, even as he ate up up knowledge and wisdom from the experienced scholars around him. As he enters his fifth year as a professor of game design, Lemarchand is excited to bring his ideas to Meaningful Play: to reflect on playful making, the value of theory and research, the importance of systems thinking and rules-based design in practice, pedagogy and professionalism, and how games academia can help change the unhealthy cultures of "crunch" that permeate so much of the game industry and tech industry.

Thursday, October 20, 5:30p-7:00p

Dinner Break (on your own)

DescriptionDinner is not provided. Take this time to socialize with your fellow conference attendees while enjoying the many dining venues within the East Lansing and Lansing area.

Thursday, October 20, 7:00p-10:00p

Conference Reception, Game Exhibition, and Poster Session

LocationMSU Union Ballroom
DescriptionCelebrate the end of the first successful day at Meaningful Play during the conference reception, featuring:
  • the latest research findings presented in the conference poster session
  • an exhibition of industry and academia created games
  • a great time to mix and mingle with your fellow conference attendees
Drinks and appetizers will be provided. This event takes place on the 2nd floor of the MSU Union.

The conference reception is sponsored by Jackson National Life Insurance Company.

Poster Presentations

Poster 1

A Content Analysis of Non-Visual Character Dimensions of Female Characters in Video Games
By: Katherine Scheck, Dong Yeop Lee, Byung Pyo Kyung and Wan Bok Lee

Studies have shown that female characters in popular media are often shown in a submissive, sexually suggestive, stereotypical, and insubstantial manner. Further studies have linked these portrayals with real world consequences. Previous game design research has focused on the visual design of female characters and only studied female characters as a single group with respect to male characters as another single group. This study examines non-visual characteristics—goals, agency, and role—and compares these qualities between male and female characters both as a whole and among characters of similar prominence within a game. Results confirm that female characters continue to be underrepresented in games, especially as prominent characters, but suggest that female characters may not be written with less depth when compared to male characters of similar prominence.

Poster 2

A Study on the Difference of Character Believability / Uncanniness Between a Real and Virtual Background
By: Namhoon Kim and Michael Lee

Virtual reality (VR) is made on a synthetic world, which might be existing or fictional. On the other hand, augmented reality (AR) is made on the real world basically. What kind of different recognition can two different backgrounds of these media create for media users? This proposal will measure believability and uncanniness of imaginary characters in the pictures between a virtual background and a real background. In addition, this study will determine the correlation between the background sizes and character believability.

Poster 3

An All-Girls Technology Camp: The Opportunities and Challenges of Implementation
By: Jennifer Killham, Luke Kane and Brittany Holmes

This poster presents the iterative design and “post-mortem” related to the implementation of [name removed], an all-girls technology camp on Game Design, 3D Animation, and Web Development. The poster will outline the STEM objectives of the camp, along with why the female focus was chosen as a means enhance young women’s identity with STEM fields. A thorough review of the scholarly literature will be provided, particularly related to the development of young women’s sense of self-efficacy through game design. A significant portion of the poster will analyze and critique the challenges and opportunities from the 2016 camp, as well as outline the potential improvements for the next iteration of the camp. The presenters will unpack the use of a free online storytelling tool called Twine. Twine was selected by the girls themselves as a means to create interactive, nonlinear stories. The poster will include samples of the girl’s interactive stories, including the creation of a game on the (a) bystander effect and (b) gun violence. Further, the presenters are looking for feedback from attendees on their ideas to further engage the girls with the brainstorming, pitching, and prototyping of a game; critical analysis of pre-existing video games, and the camp’s use of virtual panelist of experts from the video game industry.

Poster 4

Building an Organizational Strategy for Meaningful Play
By: Lindsay Grace, Tony Demarinis and Peter Jamieson

This presentation outlines heuristics from converting educational games and simulations from the controlled environments of academic researchers to the rigor and pragmatics of product based solutions in non-game organizations. These observations were collected from an ongoing research and implementation practice collaboration between the top ranked (anonymized) corporate consultancy and the Princeton Review ranked (anonymized) university game research community.

Poster 5

Competitive personalities prefer competitive games: Validation of the Revised Competitiveness Index with Video Gamers
By: Kevin Schmitt and Shane Mueller

The Revised Competitiveness Index (RCI; Harris & Houston, 2010) has been used to assess both competitiveness and contentiousness, which have been shown to be stable traits that can be assessed reliably. This index has been used with athletes and general population, but previously not been used to assess the personality of video game players. We hypothesized that self-identified gamers with high competitive drives would prefer competitive video games over non-competitive games, and gamers with low competitive drives would prefer non-competitive games over competitive games. To test this hypothesis, we conducted an on-line survey of self-identified video game players that assessed competitiveness and contentiousness with the RCI, and asked about preferred game genres and the primary motivations for playing video games. In a second cohort, we also asked about time spent playing and watching related content. Results showed that competitiveness, but not contentiousness, was associated with higher ratings of racing, shooter/action, and MOBA genres, and the fighting genre was marginally significant. In contrast, preference for role-playing, puzzle, sandbox, and strategy games were not correlated with RCI competitiveness. These results suggest that people who have competitive personalities tend to prefer competitive games more than those with non-competitive personalities, but competitiveness has no impact on preference for non-competitive games. The results validate the RCI as a useful index for studying video gamers, and suggest that the personality trait of competitiveness (but not contentiousness) is an important predictor of video game preference.

Poster 6

Defining Narrative Devices in Digital Gamespaces
By: Mars Ashton

The capabilities of games as a platform for Narrative delivery have evolved throughout the years and provided the game developer, be it the individual or a group, with a multitude of techniques to help define and shape the player’s experience. While some of these techniques are the topic of research papers, articles, blogs, and developer documentation, methodology behind these techniques have not been appropriately categorized and treated as a single entity. By breaking down the Approach and tactics used by games as an experiential medium throughout their history, this Master’s thesis aims to provide the necessary terminology and language for educators and developers alike to communicate their concepts.

By researching and evaluating archetypes of design patterns in story-driven and experiential games, of various forms, the classification of techniques used by designers, writers, animators and artists can be formed. The way these storytellers use the Gamespace as a tool for providing exposition, direction, or instruction will shape this research. This information will then provide the basis for an easily understood nomenclature that will benefit the culture, development, history, and future of game development as a whole.

Through these findings my nomenclature will then be applied to my own personal game development endeavor, Axis Descending, which will represent a plethora of Narrative delivery techniques and application.

Poster 7

Design Pattern Analysis of Autonomous NPC Data Visualization in Games
By: Alexander King

Non-Player Characters (NPCs) controlled by artificial intelligence (AI) are widely featured in digital games, providing game worlds with adversaries, allies and general inhabitants. However, a small subset of games foreground the use of these autonomous AI agents such that their interactions are the primary focus of gameplay itself. Although the design affordances of NPCs which are able to interact with their world and each other are rich and surprising, there are unique challenges in communicating the complexity of these systems to the player. Though there is a growing body of research into methods of architecting systems of emergent AI actors (Park, 2009), this research has focused on creating interesting interactions for an audience with a high degree of systems literacy. Similarly, much work has been done into methods for creating believable and relatable NPCs (Warpefelt, 2013), but such work is focused on ways NPCs can be made to mimic human interactions, not in how to better express an underlying NPC behavior system.

Poster 8

Designing Meaningful Play: Bridging the Classroom-Workplace Divide through Role-Play, Writing, and Problem-Solving
By: Dawn Opel and Benjamin Lauren

Meaningful play, or “experiences that have meaning and are meaningful for players” (Salen & Zimmerman, 2005) has been extended to many contexts, including serious games for the education and training sector (Michael & Chen, 2006). This poster explores the designing of meaningful play experiences for the training of undergraduate students for workplace-specific applications.

Poster 9

Digital Photo Reminiscence Therapy Game for Improving Health and Engagement for Alzheimer's & Dementia
By: Brock Dubbels

When we bring out the family album, and share photos of our lives, we connect through story, sharing, and community. With images, we can engage generations with well-placed questions, and create shared histories for generations. This game is a modern-day photo album, which creates family histories; it structures interaction, and improves memory, while eliciting important data for community health statistics. The game can act in a cocreative and function in an assistive or consultative role, drawing on the player’s expertise about his or her own life, structuring interaction and facilitating communication, constructing a collaborative process that also can engage family, caregivers, and important others in the client’s community. Pilot testing indicates that similar techniques such as bibliotherapy, journaling, and the making of memory books, self boxes, life maps, and time capsules, videography tap into a creative meaning-making process necessary for life review. The collaborative process described facilitates deconstructing problem stories and constructing unique outcomes in their place for the client and quite possibly for the family and important others. This type of activity has also been shown to improve memory in individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The game is intended to be a tablet application, where players can drag and drop, point and click, as well as type, take and save photos, as well as narrate and record spoken histories. This game works directly through both a browser or a local app, and allows for drawing from the vast collections of image, audio, and news media hosted and curated online.

Poster 10

Dreamy, A Serious Game Designed to Impact Players' Beliefs and Behaviors Related to Indoor Tanning
By: Soyoon Kim and Clay Ewing

This poster abstract summarizes an ongoing, two-phase project involving the design and evaluation of a serious game (Dreamy) developed to address growing health concerns about the use of indoor tanning facilities among young females. Using the format of an online-dating simulator, Dreamy aims to inform the target group about the true danger of engaging in indoor tanning and, ultimately, to discourage the behavior. Notably, we applied a consistent framework throughout the planning, design, and evaluation processes. In the design phase, for instance, the main components, contents, and mechanics of the game (e.g., characters, dialogues, and mini events) were developed based on the constructs of theoretical models that predict and explain people's health-related beliefs and behaviors. While a considerable body of literature demonstrates the merits of serious games as an alternative to conventional health-intervention tools, such potentials have rarely been tested in the context of addressing indoor-tanning behaviors. In the ongoing evaluation research, we empirically test the effects of the game on various determinants of indoor-tanning behaviors, particularly in comparison with other types of health-intervention tools. In addition, we aim to identify the psychological mechanisms and critical game components that generate such impacts. Lessons from the theory-based game-design process and empirical findings from the ongoing evaluation research using evaluation survey data and real-time play data will add valuable knowledge to the field of social-impact game design for serious purposes and health communication research.

Poster 11

Evolving Narratives in Digital/Physical Spaces: A Conceptual Model and Case Study of The Ghost of Pool Woods
By: Charles Ecenbarger, Laura Zdanski and Alex Hammond

“The Ghost of Poole Woods” is a conceptual exploration of how physical and real world elements can be interjected into transmedia storytelling. This project is a retelling of a local story in a digital/physical mélange that will allow geocachers to experience the narrative of local mythology, but also interact with the physical space in which the narrative ostensibly took place. In order to achieve this, we have considered Henry Jenkins’ (2006) seven core concepts of transmedia storytelling as well as a narrative-driven approach to the idea of gameplay. Through hidden geocaches and an altered story, our project guides players through an alternate-reality geocache game that explores local history, space, and a contemporary method of digital storytelling that is deeply entrenched into our perpetually connected society. Thus, the purpose of this presentation is not only to discuss our project, but the theory, methods, and tools used to modernize and retell a centuries old narrative, and how narratives evolve in meaning and medium over time.

Poster 12

Exploring the impact of avatar types and avatar customization on STEM attitudes and motivation to play online STEM games
By: Leticia Cherchiglia, Rabindra Ratan, Rachel Stacey, Harrison Sanders, Will Renius, Amanda Klug, Samantha Oldenburg and Tom Day

This study explores how avatar aspects may impact STEM attitudes (STEM interest and STEM-learning self-efficacy) and the motivation to play online STEM games. We expected that positive effects on the dependent variables would be stronger when participants were using a science-related avatar (instead of a shape-related avatar), especially when this avatar could be customized (instead of simply assigned). Results have shown so far that there is no significant difference between avatar groups in terms of impact on STEM attitudes, although change in customization for the shape-related avatar group led to change in non-STEM self-efficacy. We expect to finish data analysis regarding motivation to play online STEM Games in time for the presentation at Meaningful Play.

Poster 13

Functional Requirements and Quality Characteristics in the Development of Serious Games
By: Nigel Robb

As with all software, the quality of games designed for serious applications – such as education, training and health – is extremely important. The quality characteristics expected of a piece of software are typically viewed as non-functional requirements, such as reliability, usability, and so on. These are distinguished from what are usually known as the software’s functional requirements, that is, the features the software must incorporate (e.g. a word processor should allow the user to delete text). Several standards have been developed to characterize software quality, such as the International Standards Organization’s ISO/IEC 25010, which defines quality in use and product quality models for general software. Games, however, present unique challenges in the assessment and assurance of software quality. Unlike other software artefacts such as word processors, successful games must invoke a wide variety of emotional experiences in the player. Serious games present yet a further challenge: in addition to quality requirements such as fun, immersion, and so on, serious games must also (by their very definition) achieve a measurable outcome. Whether it is effectively training the cognitive process they are designed to train, or effectively promoting the health behavior they are designed to promote, the quality of a serious game must be partly evaluated in terms of the non-entertainment purpose that makes it a serious game. Crucially, whether or not a serious game is effective in this sense is not solely dependent on the kinds of non-functional quality characteristics addressed by quality assurance models. It is also important that the gameplay of a serious game effectively promotes the desired behaviors, skills, or knowledge. These gameplay features are best understood as the functional requirements of the serious game. This suggests that the relationship between gameplay features (functional requirements) and software quality (non-functional requirements) is both important and complex in serious games. A novel model of this relationship is presented here. The model is informed by: (1) consideration of the relationship between the functional requirements and quality characteristics of games in general; (2) analysis of a recently-proposed quality model for serious games, based on ISO/IEC 25010; and (3) practical experience in the development and evaluation of serious games. Implications of the model are discussed: it is argued that quality evaluation should occur early in the development of serious games, and that the development of serious games can particularly benefit from iterative, agile approaches.

Poster 14

Know Your Choices: Exploring How Instructors Support Student Autonomy Through Assessment Design
By: Caitlin Holman, Benjamin Plummer, Rachel Niemer and Barry Fishman

Gameful pedagogy promotes student engagement and intrinsic motivation through the thoughtful use of instructional design mechanics to support autonomy, belongingness, and competence. Here we focus on mechanisms to support autonomy.

We analyzed syllabi from 19 unique gameful courses at the University of Michigan experimenting broadly with gameful learning.

Poster 15

Making Learning Game Data Actionable for Teachers
By: Anne-Marie Hoxie and Alison Lee

Data dashboards are touted as one of the most beneficial features of using educational technology platforms, yet there are no clear guidelines for what information is most effective for informing instruction, or how that information should be presented. We investigate how teachers navigate and use various parts of the data dashboard for the learning game, After the Storm.
In After the Storm, students play the role of Editor-in-Chief of a magazine, where they must read closely, think critically, and solve real-world problems in the aftermath of a terrible hurricane. The game aims to improve struggling middle-school students’ reading comprehension, vocabulary, and 21st century skills as they complete game tasks related to journalism and leadership. Teachers have access to a game dashboard, which displays their students’ performance on reading assessments and in-game progress as well as providing views of students’ writing assignments. The dashboard is comprised of three significant parts: the class level progress (degree of game completion), class level performance (scores on assessments), and students’ actual written work completed in the game. Researchers investigated how teachers used the data presented in the dashboard to provide informed recommendations for how the dashboard could be improved. Results from Google Analytics suggested that teachers review data on their class’ progress in the game and individual students’ writing assignments most often but infrequently review their class-level performance data, or students’ scores on the reading standards. Corroboration between data on dashboard use and qualitative feedback from teacher focus groups and surveys are distilled into 4 suggestions for dashboard improvements: showing clear next steps to teachers for which students to target for intervention; linking performance data to concrete skills that educators can directly teach; including a benchmark for student performance to better explain how a score in the game compares with other students or an expected achievement level; and displaying data about students’ non-cognitive skill development such as how well students perform on decision making and problem solving tasks. Results will be discussed as they apply to best practices in data dashboard design.

Poster 16

Play in Nursing Home Residents
By: Leah Mancini and Doug Maynard

Adults over the age of sixty five are the quickest growing population in the United States. With age comes geriatric concerns including coping with loss, decreased independence, depression, anxiety, and lack of relatedness. Older adults who have strong mental health and adaptive coping mechanisms are more likely to live full, meaningful lives despite these challenges. Play is an topic of study in developmental psychology, but research on the role of play in adulthood, especially late adulthood, has been limited. Promising preliminary research has suggested that adult play yields increased positive affect, improved relatedness, and reduced stress. The psychological benefits of play in children have been exemplified through child-centered play therapy, but have also shown possible benefits in the elderly. In a case study of elderly-centered play therapy, participants became less depressed, less isolated, more active, and behaved in more socially appropriate ways. In the current study, we are exploring the phenomenon of play in the elderly, more specifically nursing home residents. We interviewed 15 nursing home residents to help understand how they have experienced play through their lives, and how their relationship with play has shifted since coming to the nursing home, and why. The interview data are being analyzed using a grounded theory approach, with the intent of developing a new model of play in the context of a nursing home. Data collection is ongoing and will be complete by August 2016. We used initial interviews with participants to identify main themes and new questions, and are now conducting follow-up interviews with those same participants to more deeply explore those questions. Emerging themes which will be further explored through follow-up interviews include barriers to play experienced by the elderly, the ability of elderly to change the way they play, and play as a coping mechanism. For example, the nursing home residents may have a need to play, but are experiencing barriers that come with aging, including physical limitations (e.g., breathing tubes, wheelchairs, and general lack of mobility) and social ones (e.g., isolation, and difficulty communicating due to loss of speech, hearing loss, and dementia). As research continues, how residents respond to these barriers barriers to play and other emerging themes will be more fully analyzed, leading to a better understanding of play in nursing home residents.

Poster 17

Pushing Game Definitions by Introducing Game Design to Diverse Novices
By: Mark Chen

This interactive poster (i.e., I’ll have the game on a digital device for participants to play) will describe how a novice to game design pushed theory about what makes a good game. The game in question was developed in Twine and featured very little player agency, which ironically served to give players a richer experience. That a novice could create something deeply personal that butted against conventional game design guidelines highlights the importance of opening game design up to as broad an audience as possible.

Poster 18

RECONOCER: Creating safe spaces for the recognition of sexual abuse
By: Jessica Wendorf Muhamad

Currently, close to 20,000 children are victims of sexual exploitation in Colombia, with 3 of every 4 cases of sexual violence reported being cases initiated by a member of the child’s nuclear family (ICBF, 2014). In 2013, 83% of the cases included girls under the age of 18, with 71% of the girls being 14 years or younger (Medicina Legal, 2013). Perhaps even more alarming, current data indicates that every hour approximately two girls are sexually abused. In an effort to contribute to the existing sexual violence prevention efforts, as well as developing a psycho-social tool for mental health practitioners, health care professionals, and young girls in Colombia, emerges Reconocer (“Recognize” in Spanish) a culturally tailored, tabletop role-playing game for pregnant and postpartum girls (ages 11-18), whose pregnancy is a result of intrafamilial sexual abuse. Following two years of extensive in-country fieldwork and formative research, a multidisciplinary team has been assembled and the game is now in the development phase. Real time data on the status of sexual abuse and pregnancy has been incorporated with narrative interviews, focus groups, and observational data to form a more robust understanding of the phenomena and the game components essential for an efficacious intervention. Games function in many of the same ways that other entertainment-education programs do, with processes such as transportation and identification being key to their success in enacting change. However, while serious games share many constructs and processes with EE, the mechanisms by which games work mean that these processes are potentially enacted differently. Games move beyond embedded prosocial messages and mere entertainment value; games are facilitators of deeper and more personalized processes. Incorporated within existing psychotherapeutic groups, Reconocer enables young girls to explore their past experiences as characters, thus providing a healthy emotional and psychological distance for internal reflection in case of prior sexual abuse. Reconocer draws on Freire’s (1970) participatory learning model by utilizing problem posing and participatory exercises to promote active involvement. Through enacting situations and corresponding responses, Reconocer aims to increase identification as well as to provide mechanisms for discussion and reporting. Given the unfortunate normativity of intrafamily sexual abuse in Colombia it is essential to balance the free and force choice options during gameplay. Reconocer provides young girls an opportunity to execute choices that might not otherwise be accessible. This ranging from exploring the possibility of having been sexually abuse (targeting denial) to formally reporting to local agencies or governmental offices. As such, instances in which players might encounter reactance and/or counterargument have been considered. Psychological reactance entails the selective avoidance of uncomfortable or difficult information via two types of resistance: inertia and/or fear. Inertia can be explained as an individual’s desire to avoid things that contradict (dissonance), thereby preferring to not change attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs (Knowles & Linn, 2004). Fear stems from an individual’s active attempt at coping with arousal through either ignoring it or adopting a defense position (Witte, 1994). As a persuasive EE tool, Reconocer seeks to move away from threat and closer to transportation through purposeful engagement with charged content framed within entertaining media. Counterargument, or the rejection of a message post elaboration, within this context is particularly challenging. Although the game seeks to create situations that are accurate representations of cultural and social norms, contextual expressions of abuse, and the possible responses, it must do so in a space that does not feel threatening. During the game design and development phase careful attention has been brought to ensuring a collaborative, participatory framework, in which local knowledge and expertise is considered.

Poster 19

Shuttle to Mars: Training airline pilots for critical situations - Matching pilot tasks and working conditions with space game events for developing pilot competencies
By: Esther Kuindersma, Jelke van der Pal, H.Jaap Van den Herik and Aske Plaat

Airline pilots are well trained professionals. They operate in increasingly automated environments. With the high levels of automation pilots spend less time handling the aircraft manually and more time managing and monitoring all automated processes. When critical situations occur, pilots need to jump into action. Specific cognitive competencies are needed to move from the monitoring state into an active state. These competencies need to be trained. In aviation the use of training simulators with a high fidelity is common. As they are expensive to use and availability is limited, the Netherlands Aerospace Centre NLR is investigating to what extent serious games can be used for training purposes.

This poster presents the approach taken (1) to identify the essential higher-order competencies and (2) to translate the pilot tasks and working conditions into engaging game events. The game events should be suitable (a) for assessment of the behavioural indicators of the competencies and (b) for the measurement of the learning progress.

Poster 20

The Efficacy of a Serious Game Aimed at the Promotion of Positive Bystander Behavior in Cyberbullying among Adolescents: Examining the Role of Player Experience and Player Behavior
By: Heidi Vandebosch, Laura Herrewijn, Katrien Van Cleemput, Steven Malliet, Sara Bastiaensens, Frederik Van Broeckhoven, Gaetan Deglorie, Ann Desmet, Sofie Van Hoecke, Koen Samyn, Olga De Troyer, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij and Karolien Poels

The paper presents a study on the efficacy of a serious game that aims to promote positive bystander behavior in cyberbullying with 12-14 year old adolescents. The serious game was developed within the scope of an interdisciplinary research project, investigating how ICT-related tools can be effectively used in interventions with regard to cyberbullying amongst adolescents. Digital games are powerful motivational tools and learning environments; their highly interactive and involving context promotes active, critical learning and can stimulate behavior change both within and outside of the game environment. This relationship between the experiential, involving aspect of games and learning and behavior change is often seen as implicit and rarely questioned. Little research has explicitly investigated the relationship between the experiential aspect of games and their potential for learning and behavior change, though. Consequently, the aim of our study is to pay particular attention to how play-related variables such as the player experience (e.g. enjoyment, involvement) and player behavior (e.g. succeeding or failing in the mission, game duration, performing positive/negative bystander behaviors) influence the efficacy of the serious game. In order to do so, a group-randomized controlled trial (GRCT) consisting of three measurement phases (i.e. pre-test, intervention/post-test, follow-up) was designed. This GRCT investigated the effect of the game on bystander behavior when confronted with cyberbullying, as well as its determinants (e.g. beliefs, attitudes, behavioral intentions). Moreover, we specifically measured and took into account both player experiences and behaviors by means of self-report questionnaires and the logging of the players’ gameplay statistics. Results of our study show that playing the serious game had a significant impact on respondents’ attitudes regarding positive and negative bystander behavior in cyberbullying, their self-efficacy regarding how to deal with cyberbullying, and their positive bystander intentions (i.e. their intentions to perform positive bystander behavior when witnessing a cyberbullying event in the future). Moreover, the effect of playing the game differed according to the experiences that respondents encountered and, even more so, the behaviors that they performed in-game. Especially the respondents’ actions when dealing with a cyberbullying event (e.g. aggressively standing up to the bully) and witnessing its consequences in-game proved to have an important effect on the outcome of the intervention. As such, our study provides explicit support for the notion that play-related variables are crucial factors in establishing learning and behavioral outcomes, and should be taken into account when studying the efficacy of a serious game.

Exhibited Digital Games

Game 1

1979 Revolution: Black Friday
By: iNK Stories

1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a choice driven, narrative game that brings players into the brooding world of a nation on the verge of collapse. Play as Reza, an aspiring photojournalist, and make life and death decisions as you survive the gritty streets of Iran during the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

Game 2

A Moment Free from Darkness (student-created game)
By: Inflatable Reality

A Moment Free from Darkness is about feeling empathy for a girl sold into sex slavery by her parents. Situations are presented through her subjective experience ranging from the hopeful to the horrific. The game has four acts that represent a cycle that repeats many times everyday of her life. The experience does not flow like a normal game. Each act feels distinct and demands cognitive work from players to thread one moment with the next and understand the game as a narrative whole. The game is played on four platforms sequentially to evoke an increasing sense of immersion through the first three acts (played on mobile, desktop, and Oculus Rift 2, respectively) and a drop off of immersion in a final act of healing and recovery (played on the Apple Watch).

Game 3

Beach VR Meditation for Embodied Presence
By: Carrie Heeter, Marcel Allbritton, Josh Farkas

Feeling deeply connected to yourself and your body creates a richer experience of presence in a virtual world, even when your body is sitting in a chair wearing VR googles. We call this embodied presence. Connection to the self and body (paying attention to present-moment sensations and feelings) enhances the sense of self and the sense of presence, regardless of whether you are in the natural world or a VR world. Our Beach VR Meditation demonstrates how meditation can be designed to increase the experience of embodied presence in a virtual world.

Game 4

Breath of Life
By: Bella Shah MD, Robert Alexander PhD

Breath of Life is an interactive real-time biofeedback experience in which the user's breath is turned into a sonification and visualization. The sonification and visualization of the user's physiology is realized through custom parameter-mapping algorithms. Individuals simply place a phone equipped with an accelerometer on their stomach and breathe. The acceleration information is transmitted to the computer via wifi and the algorithms generate a sonification and visualization of the breath. This biofeedback is intended to enable user mindfulness, fitness and breath control.

Game 5

By: Elizabeth Goins

Charlotte is a serious, educational game that explores the connections between the short story, The Yellow Wall-paper, and the life of its author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Our research goal is to improve player engagement with educational material by the incorporation of game mechanics and narrative. The content in the game can be used in high school and college level classes for 19th century history, literature and women's/gender studies.

Warning: This is an adult version which contains examples of 19th century erotica that may not be suitable for work or younger players. For the educational version (with no erotica) go to

Game 6

Coco's Cove (student-created game)
By: Bobbi Schultz, Caleb Bill, Heath L. Moore, Robert W. Miller, Gregor Armstrong, John Medwick, Eric Arbizanni, Monica McGill

Coco is a fun, energetic monkey living in a cove. Like any monkey, Coco likes to romp around the jungle near the cove to find adventures to fill its days.

You can help Coco fuel these adventures by stretching its tail back then releasing. That action flings Coco through the air to collect yummy food. Bananas are a definite favorite, but Coco also likes salmon, cake, and even french fries! Delicious!

We all have our challenges in life, and Coco is no different. Though you can't tell by looking, Coco happens to have type 2 diabetes. Eating the wrong foods (like too many carbs) or not eating at the right times can affect blood sugar. But, hey, no worries. That can be a bummer sometimes, but with practice, you can help Coco move along to the next world.

Coco lives a great life in the jungle. Help Coco explore the jungle, overcome many challenges, that carefree jungle life that makes Coco happy!

Game 7

By: Robert Lockhart

Aurora must learn magic to rescue her kidnapped father, but the way Magic works in Aurora's world is the way Programming works in ours. Play as Aurora and her Animal Familiar as you learn to code. The game is intended for kids 6-12, but fun for grown-ups, too.

Game 8

Community in Crisis
By: Classroom, Inc.

Community in Crisis is a learning game that immerses students in an authentic workplace experience while learning literacy skills, engaging with meaningful texts, and developing 21st century life skills. Players take on the role as Director of Common Ground Community Center, a local organization responding to the effects of a major hurricane. As the Director, players must focus on providing services to the community with the help of their support staff by deciding how best to respond to daily challenges by making critical decisions based on information gathered through various sources in the game. As players navigate through the life of a working professional, they learn how to be critical thinkers, tackle real life problems, become strong decision makers and hone valuable literacy skills.

Game 9

Criminal Procedure: Investigation
By: Brian Winn, Adam Candeub, Connor Kurtz, Nick Thurston, Liang Cui, Chris Ulrich, Joe Dykstra, Sarah Zelenak, Zach Klegon, Michael Beyene, Patrick Williams, Travis Nichols, Sahil Tandon, Justin Girard, Tyler Summers

"Criminal Procedure: Investigation" is a game that will be integrated into a Michigan State University College of Law course on criminal procedure. The primary purpose of the game is to bring to life criminal procedure law in a dramatic story and allow students to explore the law in an interactive environment. In this game, the player role-plays as a police officer and is tasked to collect evidence to solve a series of interrelated cases.

The player has the option to collect evidence according to law (in a "legal manner") or not, but ultimately the ramifications of gather evidence unlawfully will be that the evidence is not admissible in court and the overall case may fall apart. For instance, a player might find a fallen letter on the ground outside of a suspicious house and would be presented with the possibility of taking the letters, leaving them alone, or inspecting them visually for information. If the player takes the letters, it would not be admissible evidence. If the play leaves the letters alone they make no progress in gathering evidence. If however, they inspect the letters (without touching them), they might find that it is addressed to someone who is not listed as a resident of the house. Using this information, the player could then pursue additional evidence.

The game will be available as part of a College of Law course on criminal procedure starting in Fall 2016.

Game 10

Dragon Dad
By: Tiltfactor, Astra Rose Studio

In Dragon Dad, your strict dragon father has chores for you. Spoiler alert: no matter how well you do, he'll never be satisfied. Complete each minigame as fast as you can, but they're going to get harder and harder until you leave your father disappointed.

Some of the minigames promote high-impact personal actions players can do to be more sustainable, like biking instead of driving. These minigames are intermixed with minigames that are "just for fun." A pilot study suggests that Dragon Dad makes players feel as if their actions can affect the environment more, which would lead to greater willingness to behave sustainably.

Dragon Dad is currently in development. A prototype is currently available to demo.

Game 11

By: Clay Ewing, Soyoon Kim, Kenny Langer, Allison Chin, Valentina Crespo, Matthew Kyprie, Kelsey Kjeldsen

Dreamy is a dating simulator that places the player into conversations with potential suitors where physical appearance matters. The objective of the game is to find a date during a 30 day trial of a dating service. The central game mechanic in the game is choosing how to respond to potential suitors. These conversations highlight the choices and reasons for risk-taking behavior associated with indoor tanning. Outside of the conversations, the player can visit a tanning salon, get piercings, boost their love quotient, and visit a dermatologist. Each of these activities have effects on the way the player is perceived by potential suitors. Components and content in Dreamy are based upon two behavioral prediction models: Integrated Model of Behavioral Prediction (IM: Fishbein, 2000, 2007; Fishbein & Yzer, 2003) and the health belief model (HBM: Rosenstock, 1974; Rosenstock, Strecher & Becker, 1988). The game mechanics have been designed to target salient beliefs and attitudes to determine behavioral intention to engage in tanning behavior and discourage indoor tanning.

Game 12

Einstein's Playground (student-created game)
By: Zachary Sherin, Heather Fairweather, Philip Tan, Gerd Kortemeyer

Einstein's Playground is a fulldome scientific talk & demonstration, where planetarium audiences are surrounded by a real-time simulation of the visual effects of Einstein's theory of special relativity. By slowing the simulated speed of light to a crawl and placing the audience in a familiar, human-scale environment, people can observe and learn about the concepts of doppler shift, Lorentz contraction, relativistic aberration, and the finite speed of light.

Game 13

Escape from the Robot Factory
By: Jared Segal

Sam was snooping around the world's largest robot factory when he overheard a scary conversation about world robotic domination. Now Sam is trapped inside the factory with only one chance of escape. As Sam, you'll need to control a lowly maintenance robot to solve puzzles and find a way out of this place. Here's the catch: you'll need to program the robot to handle what's being thrown at it in these puzzles. Help Sam get out and keep the world free from robotic overlords! The goal of this game is to introduce people to programming in a fun puzzle game.

Game 14

Forest Defender
By: Nathaniel Abernathy, Aaron Mundale, Brean Pavlinak, Mike Dale

Forest Defender is a fun experience to help teach Michigan resident and visitors about the invasive Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). Players are tasked with collecting as many ALB's as they can in 60 seconds.

Players are given opportunities to learn more about the ALB and other native beetles, but are not forced to learn any more than they choose. The information is only limited to what is necessary as the version placed at state parks works in conjunction with the additional information found at the exhibits.

Game 15

Friendly ATTAC
By: Heidi Vandebosch, Katrien Van Cleemput, Steven Malliet, Sara Bastiaensens, Laura Herrewijn, Frederik Van Broeckhoven, Gaétan Deglorie, Ann DeSmet, Sofie Van Hoecke, Koen Samyn, Olga De Troyer, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Karolien Poels

'Friendly ATTAC' (Adaptive Technological Tools Against Cyberbullying) is a serious game that was developed within the scope of an interdisciplinary research project, carried out by researchers from the University of Antwerp, Ghent University, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Howest University College West Flanders ( This research project investigated how ICT-related tools can be effectively used in interventions with regard to cyberbullying amongst adolescents. Within this project, the goal of the serious game was to promote positive bystander behavior in cyberbullying with 12-14 year old adolescents.

Game 16

I Can Feel it Coming in the Air Tonight (student-created game)
By: James Earl Cox III, Julie Buchanan

I Can Feel It Coming in the Air Tonight is an interactive fiction game about the permanency and fleetingness of our choices.

Game 17

Kerem B’Yavneh
By: Brian Winn, Casey O'Donnell, Reuven Margrett, Greg Kozma, Xavier Durand-Hollis, Kevin Pauly, Andrew MacAfee, Peter Burroughs, Sarah Zelenak, Jackson Hopcroft, Andrew Bagdady, Tyler Summers, Elan Gleiber, Ryan Chuang, Paul Stanos

The fun and quirkiness of your favorite farming and city-building games meet the richness and vibrancy of Jewish ritual, history, and thought. Run a profitable homestead, observe festivals, learn Torah, and experience life and community in ancient Yavneh, the birthplace of modern Judaism. Never before have there been Jewish games both so cutting-edge and so well-adapted to use in an educational setting.

Game 18

Kirchhoff's Revenge
By: Gerd Kortemeyer

Gustav Kirchhoff is annoyed: nobody appreciates his circuit laws. In this first-person proof-of-concept, you get abducted and have to solve a number of puzzles to be released.

Game 19

Mountain VR (student-created game)
By: Cuyler Quint, Tony Morelli

Augmented Reality Information Simulation for Snow Sports. Augmented trail maps show best path based on the ability of the athlete. Snowboard down the mountain on a Wii Balance Board using an Oculus Rift to experience what the future of augmented snow sports could be!

Game 20

Night of the Living Debt
By: Luke Erickson, Lyle Hansen, Barbara Chamberlin, Seth Powers

In a post-apocalyptic world, credit and credit payments have taken on the form of zombies! "Night of the Living Debt," is the newest addition to the Northwest Youth Financial Education educational game library. This app is free and currently available to K-12 teachers on iOS. It was developed by University of Idaho Extension and the New Mexico State University Games Lab. In this game, students will learn how to maintain good personal credit scores while balancing savings and expenses. The cartoon-like zombies are playfully used as a metaphor for illustrating the pros and cons of common personal finance decisions, especially loans and debt payments. The game was designed for grades 11-12, but has shown significant appeal to younger audiences as well.

Game 21

Open Sorcery
By: Abigail Corfman

Open Sorcery is a text-based browser/mobile game built with the Twine engine. It follows the development of an elemental firewall--a creature of intertwined magic and code--that is becoming sapient. It plays like a choose your own adventure game interspersed with riddle-like challenges and focuses heavily on the relationships you develop with other characters. Player decisions determine the emotional development of the AI and lead to one of eight endings, some happy, some devastating.

Game 22

Putrajaya Billionaire
By: John M. Quick

Putrajaya Billionaire is a newsgame that satirizes current events while raising awareness about political turmoil in Southeast Asia.

Game 23

Rangers VS Planners
By: Tony Morelli, Joe packer

A cooperative hybrid learning experience. Players learn about the balance between urban development and wild life population. City Planners play a physical game on top of a projected map. As pieces are placed onto the map, the virtual world reflects the buildings. Forest rangers play in the virtual world from a 1st person perspective and attempt to move wild animals to safe locations

Game 24

REVISIONS (student-created game)
By: Steve Cha, Team REVISIONS

REVISIONS is an autobiographical, metafictional series of vignettes. In the game's first act, the player plays minigames chronicling the subject's life. The second act of the game invites the player to view each minigame through the designer's eyes.

REVISIONS was developed as Steve Cha's MFA thesis project at USC's Interactive Media and Games program.

Game 25

Rija's Day (student-created game)
By: Aaron Albert, Daniel J. Cohen

Rija's Day is a short, interactive story about cultural discrimination. Players control Rija, as she goes about her daily business. Throughout the day, Rija becomes the victim of violence and verbal abuse similar to what the people of various cultures experience every day.

Game 26

Saving Draggy
By: Brian Winn, Chase Grove, Tyler Summers, Anya Kolesnichenko, Greg Kozma, Justin Girard, Andrew MacAfee, Joshua Symanzik, Peter Burroughs, Sarah Zelenak, Jackson Hopcraft, Ryan Chuang, and Max Wilhelmi

Your baby dragon has gone missing in this magical children's adventure game! Targeted at kids ages 5-10, children will increase their cognition and understanding of basic financial concepts as they engage in an epic quest to save Draggy.

The game is developed by the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab at Michigan State University and supported by the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.

Game 27

Saving with Piggy
By: Brian Winn, Justin Girard, Peter Burroughs, Jackson Hopcroft, Tyler Summers

Give your child a jump start on their financial literacy! Saving with Piggy is an educational game that helps young children (age 2 to 5) learn about coins by feeding piggy (aka, putting coins in the piggy bank). The game features Piggy, a lovable animated piggy bank that needs help saving coins.

The game is developed by the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab at Michigan State University and supported by the Michigan State University Federal Credit Union.

Game 28

Silent Streets
By: Ilia Moshkov, Demid Tishin, Alex Nitz

Silent Streets is an adventure detective game with step counter mechanics, ironic humor and dark atmosphere, set in a small Victorian port town. You travel from location to location on foot or in a cab. Cabman costs you in-game money, which you earn by solving the cases and side-quests. If you go on foot, put on your headphones and go for a walk in your real life. Every step you make in real life causes a step in Snowport. No directions captured, only the number of steps. While you're walking you will hear sound ambience of the Snowport districts in your headphones, depending on the current in-game route. The story is non-linear, there's a reputation system that affects the gameplay heavily. When in location you engage in dialogues, search for clues in hidden-object mini-games, and choose your own story. The release version is to have all NPCs professionally voiced over.

Game 29

By: Tiltfactor

You're the head coach of the Eugene Melonballers, an up-and-coming team in the Federation of National Smorballers. Can you coach your team to victory, helping them win the coveted Dalahäst Trophy and bring glory home to Eugene?

Smorball is a quick but challenging browser game that asks players to correctly type the words they see on the screen--punctuation and all. The more words they type correctly, the quicker opposing teams are defeated, and the closer the Eugene Melonballers get to the Dalahäst Trophy.

Smorball shows players words from the Biodiversity Heritage Library's collections of scanned historical books. By playing Smorball, players help transcribe and make these books searchable, saving them from digital oblivion.

Game 30

Soteria - Dreams as Currency
By: Play 4 Change

"Soteria - Dreams as Currency" (SDC) is a single-player, 3D adventure game designed to promote players' readiness to use psycho-therapeutically proven strategies to overcome general anxiety disorder. Based on the research of Anxiety Treatment Center founder Prof. Reid Wilson, it serves to communicate principles of anxiety treatment in a way that enables experiential understanding. The design leverages "recursive learning" principles that subvert player expectations and initiate a "perspective switch" from avoiding to confronting anxiety. Taking the role of Ana, a young woman feeling trapped by her fears, the player aims to liberate Ana's dreams from the evil entity, Oicys. The game is set in a metaphorical harbor town crawling with Shadow Creatures (representations of fears) and dedicated to the Goddess of Safety, Soteria. The first part of the game revolves around stealth mechanics. The second part changes to "lingering" through fear and provoking it through dialogue options.

Game 31

SYNC (student-created game)
By: Robert D. Bishop, William Pheloung, Eric Walsh, Luc Wong, Yihao Zhu

You have lost the love of your life. Overwhelmed by grief, you sit by her tomb, flipping through the pages of the journal that chronicles your life together. So begins SYNC, an interactive visual novel designed in Unity using Affdex, new facial recognition software from Affectiva.

SYNC was created to consider alternative mechanics that could enhance the presentation of our narrative. We believe that controlling the game through player emotions and facial expressions has the potential to strengthen player investment in the story as well as player connection with the main character by having them literally come to embody her emotional state.

Game 32

Temporality (student-created game)
By: James Earl Cox III, Julie Buchanan

Temporality is a reflective game that combines minimal controls and interpretive art to create a thoughtful atmosphere. The player only controls the passage of time, using "A" to reverse it, and "D" to push time forward. This game is particularly relevant as the anniversary of The Great War continues.

Game 33

Terra (student-created game)
By: Urian Lee, Lucienne Lee, Jay Patel, Ethan Wong

Terra is a side-scrolling Metroidvania shooter seeking to illustrate global warming and pollution. Play as Terra, a gardener with a watering can with the power to heal trees and smother entities of pollution.

Game 34

The Fiscal Ship
By: Kerry Grannis, Davide Wessel, Eric Church, , David Rejeski, Ben Sawyer, Tobi Saulnier, Colin Wilkinson

The Fiscal Ship challenges you to put the federal budget on a sustainable course. Your mission is to pick from a menu of tax and spending options to reduce the debt from projected levels over the next 25 years. Small changes to spending and taxes won't suffice. The choices are difficult, but the goal is achievable. To win the game, you need to find a combination of policies that match your values and priorities AND set the budget on a sustainable course.

Game 35

Time Zone X2
By: Will Jordan-Cooley, BrainPOP

Time Zone X2 is a major remake of the first version. The game is about constructing a timeline using context clues and careful reading. In Quest mode, the game is won by placing all four key events, unique to each Quest. In Classic mode, the player completes as many decks as they can. It's game over if the player places four events incorrectly in a row.

Game 36

By: Clay Ewing, Pablo Obando, Andrew Curtis Gaines, Alejandra Jimenez, Brandon Wilson

Unsavory is a mobile game designed to put the player in the precarious position of choosing between their health and their financial wellbeing. Like other activist games, the intention is to create awareness and empathy around an issue, paid sick leave, that is best understood as a system. Additionally, the game seeks to be a catalyst for change by embedding a social media campaign into gameplay.

Game 37

VR-Rades (student-created game)
By: Molly Rossman, Tony Morelli

Single Room, Group Play, Virtual Reality Learning Game.

Game 38

Wake Up, Koala!
By: Monica McGill, Nathan Clark, Joel Ferneno, Alex Jagim, Michael Holwey, Payton Orr, Ian Karlovsky, Kyle Des Jardins, Alan Lam, Jake Rodelius, Chad Watson, Alexander "A.J." Hambly, Dominic Bavetta, Rhianna Guptill, Trevor Tomasic, Nick Luciani, Jordon Lamping, William "Billy" Peters

As part of their capstone project, seniors at Bradley University collaborated with the Sjögren's Syndrome Foundation to design and develop Wake Up, Koala! The primary objective of this game is to raise awareness about Sjögren's (SHOW-grins), an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks moisture-producing glands. The primary mechanic involves water and dropping the water in a way that will wake up Mama Koala, who, similar to many Sjögren's patients, is very tired. This puzzle game features over 100 levels across 7 worlds, boasts 20 achievements, and a daily trivia section.

Game 39

Walden, a game
By: Tracy Fullerton

Walden, a game, is a first person simulation of the life of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau during his experiment in self-reliant living at Walden Pond. The game begins in the summer of 1845 when Thoreau moved to the Pond and built his cabin there. Players follow in his footsteps, surviving in the woods by finding food and fuel and maintaining their shelter and clothing. At the same time, players are surrounded by the beauty of the woods and the Pond, which hold a promise of a sublime life beyond these basic needs. The game follows the loose narrative of Thoreau's first year in the woods, with each season holding its own challenges for survival and possibilities for inspiration. The audience for the game is broad: from experimental game players to lovers of Thoreau and Transcendental literature. As such, the game offers more opportunities for reflective play than strategic challenge.

Game 40

Whistle While You Brew
By: Travis Faas, Claire Faas

Whistle While You Brew is a game for all those people who need to make noise in order to focus. This virtual reality game puts the player in the shoes of a barista in a magical coffee house. This particular location has a steady stream of customers who want their coffee or tea as quickly as possible. Being a place of magic, the player is not allowed to use your hands to get the orders to their caffeine deprived patrons. Instead, the player must whistle, hum, or sing specific notes in order to pick up and deliver the appropriate order to their customers.
More experience than full featured game, this demo was built to explore the use of user generated music as an input and seeks to challenge the notion that no one would want to sing at their phone in public. Sometimes we just need a reason to be a bit loud.

Game 41

World of Riders (student-created game)
By: Lucas Martins, Taiwoo Park, Anya Kolesnichenko, Irem Yildirim

World Of Riders is a hybrid online multiplayer exergame developed for virtual reality and mobile platform. In World of Riders, players are boat riders who need to work together to defeat a monster located in the center of a lake. Surrounding the lake there are spikes, players are
constantly being pushed away from the monster and towards the spikes. Players need to collect missiles and shoot them at the monster from the shooting booths, in order to defeat it. While doing so the players must dodge the monsters attacks and collect health pickups to be able to survive.
During the battle players need to paddle on the stationary cycle trainers to overcome the opposite water stream and so avoiding the spikes at the border of the lake. The faster players paddles, the closer they get to the boss.

Game 42

You Must be 18 or Older to Enter (student-created game)
By: James Earl Cox III, Joe Cox, Julie Buchanan

'You Must be 18 or Older to Enter' recreates the feeling and situation of being a prepubescent kid looking at porn for the first time. Through interactive fiction elements combined with ASCII styled art, 'You Must be 18 or Older to Enter' blurs several genres together to create an anxious experience. It is akin to horror, yet the fear is of being caught by parentals and being embarrassed of looking at the human body. The ASCII art makes the images hard to read close up, making the player embody a child-like role. Audiences at farther distances will be able to see the pictures more clearly, casting them in the role of adults. This game pushes the boundaries of storytelling, casting the player in the roll of an adolescent not only through narrative but through shared anxiety and paranoia with their character while exploring the website in the game. It's just a game, and the art isn't porn, yet it's just as nerve-racking.

Exhibited Non-Digital Games

Game 1

Abhi ya Khabi
By: Sreeram Kongeseri

The primary objective of Abhi ya Khabi is to promote social engagement and inspire reflection and informed decision making for rural and tribal communities in India. Abhi ya Kabhi introduces players with low to mid-level literacy, and little game-literacy from rural areas of India to a gamification context where they have to make choices that reflect their real life. By investing money into different actions (from volunteering to building a new house) players collect smiles in reward and protect themselves from life's potential traps. With the aim of collecting the maximum number of smiles, players must decide their strategy and build their own path to happiness through the different items and challenges of the game.

Game 2

Ballot Box Bumble
By: Scott Nicholson

Ballot Box Bumble is a game designed for the BreakoutEDU platform, which is a tool to create puzzle-based games, similar to escape rooms in concept, for the classroom. In this game, designed to teach about the Canadian electoral system, players are volunteers at the polls. The director of the poll has gone missing, and the players are investigating her office to find out what happened. As they do, they learn about some of the controversies surrounding Canadian elections.

Game 3

Cops Arrest Manatees
By: Tiltfactor

Cops Arrest Manatees is an unofficial expansion to Cards Against Humanity. After Tiltfactor research found that despite Cards Against Humanity's bad rap, players felt more motivated to be less biased after playing (pending publication). Can we do the same thing for climate change? Cops Arrest Manatees is filled with opportunities for disparagement humor around the environment, and is currently undergoing pilot evaluation to judge its impact.

Game 4

Emoji-cize: An Empathy Game (student-created game)
By: Liz Owens Boltz

Emoji-cize is a fast-paced card game designed to promote empathy and a deeper understanding of different emotions. The game encourages players to develop self-awareness about their own emotions, often drawing on personal experience to enact them. Players also develop empathy by learning to recognize emotions in the facial expression and body language of another person. Emoji-cize has two serious goals: to strengthen understanding of different emotions and to encourage players to develop and practice empathy.

Game 5

Great Lakes Invaders (student-created game)
By: Karen T. Cleveland

Great Lakes Invaders is a card game designed to teach players how to identify invasive plant species found in Michigan and learn how to report them. The game aims to remove the intimidation factor that can be inherent in field training for those not knowledgeable with plant lore and the outdoors. Rather than technical descriptions of physical characteristics, cards highlight images of defining features of species.

Game 6

Hello, My Name is Bill
By: Mary Gross

A game designed to teach students how a bill becomes a law and to serve as a beginning point for a discussion on the origins and value of the process.

Game 7

Outbreak (student-created game)
By: Elaine Fath, Alexandra To

Outbreak is a race-the-clock, question-asking, transformational game created for a Carnegie Mellon HCI research project. Our project focuses on designing and researching games that foster curiosity as an intervention for middle school students underrepresented in STEM fields: minorities, students from low socioeconomic status households, and women. Outbreak's aim is to help its players increase their comfort with asking questions and ability to ask well-formed questions on the fly, and is currently in the early stages of being field tested for impact. In Outbreak, a scientist's lab at the old house at the end of the block has an experiment gone horribly wrong. Now all of his assistants are turning into monsters, zombies, and ghosts. The lab is full of threats, from broken lab equipment to angry people to monsters. There are also virus antidote ingredients hidden in each room. You're a remote radio team that is in contact with the remaining scientists at the lab. You have control of a sensing robot that can scan the rooms, but can only answer certain questions about what's inside. Will you investigate the rooms and find the right people for the job before it's too late?

Game 8

Por Nuestras Calles (Through Our Streets)
By: Lien Tran, Jessica Wendorf Muhamad, Maria Elena Villar

Por Nuestras Calles (PNC) is a facilitated board game designed to elicit empathic and non-stigmatized responses to the complex issue of commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC) while creating safe spaces for dialogue. The game was designed primarily for use in Colombia by the Colombian National Police (CNP) and as a direct response to expanding existing prevention efforts. It is suitable for 4-8 players, ideally with 6 players being guided by a trained game facilitator.

Game 9

Tech Trek (student-created game)
By: Leticia Cherchiglia, Renee Jorae, Qin Zhang, Yilang Zhao, Carrie Heeter

Tech Trek is a 4-player learning card game that has the major goal of exciting middle school students (especially girls) about pursuing technology related careers, so that they carry this excitement throughout their education and hopefully pursue STEM careers in the future.

Game 10

Well Sourced (student-created game)
By: Marziah Karch

Well Sourced is a librarian-facilitated card game that provokes information literacy discussions and promotes information literacy skills in students new to academic research. It can be played using either computer labs with research databases or smartphones in a more informal setting.

Friday, October 21, 8:00a-9:00a

Registration Check-In and Continental Breakfast

LocationLobby (2nd floor of the MSU Union)
DescriptionThe registration table is outside of the ballroom on the second floor of the MSU Union building.

NOTE: The registration table will be open across the conference day.

The breakfast is sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division.

Friday, October 21, 9:00a-10:00a

The Science & Art of Biofeedback Games Designed for Emotional and Mental Health

LocationMSU Union Ballroom

Isabela GranicIsabela Granic received her PhD from the University of Toronto in developmental psychology. She is currently Professor and Chair of the Developmental Psychopathology department at Radboud University, in the Netherlands. She is also co-founder of The PlayNice Institute, an organization that builds evidence-based games that promote emotional health and well-being for children and youth. Her research focuses on the positive effects of playing video games, including the cognitive, emotional and social benefits. By integrating clinical and developmental research with interactive media design, she is creating a suite of evidence-based games that are also commercially viable and can be widely disseminated to slash the prevalence rates of anxiety, depression and bullying in youth. She has published 50 articles with results from two decades of research which have appeared in the highest impact journals in developmental and clinical psychology.
Learn more about Isabela.

DescriptionDepression and anxiety are the most frequently diagnosed mental health problems, leading to devastating long-term outcomes that affect a huge proportion of children and adolescents across the globe. Engaging, scalable mental health interventions that are respectful and relevant to young people are urgently needed. We prioritize design and art, integrate developmental science and principles of behavioral change, and evaluate our applied games with large-scale randomized controlled trials. In this talk I will: (a) describe the cross-disciplinary framework we use to develop applied mobile, PC and VR games that integrate biofeedback and evidence-based game mechanics to target anxiety and depression, (b) present results from a series of large-scale studies showing the efficacy of games with biofeedback at their core (e.g., EEG neurofeedback, heart rate, breathing); and (c) discuss the controversies and imperatives associated with wide-scale commercialization of evidence-based games. I will conclude with a roadmap to the next five years of programmatic studies on biofeedback games, emphasizing the precise framework by which art, design and science can be integrated to establish a validated toolbox of mechanics relevant to a wide range of interventions. If we can mobilize these game-based interventions through youth-mediated distribution channels, we have an unprecedented potential to slash the prevalence rates of anxiety and depression for the next generation of youth.

Friday, October 21, 10:00a-10:30a


Friday, October 21, 10:30a-11:30a

Affection Games: The Casual World of Flirting, Hugging, Kissing and Making Love

LocationMSU Union Ballroom

Lindsay GraceLindsay Grace is a professor, game designer and researcher. He is the founding director of the American University Game Lab and Studio. He has published more than 40 papers, articles and book chapters on games since 2009. His game designs have received awards from the Games for Change Festival, Meaningful Play, Advances in Computer Entertainment and others. His creative work has been selected for showcase in more than eight countries and 12 states, including New York, Paris, Rio De Janeiro, Singapore, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, Chicago and Vancouver. He has given talks at the Game Developer's Conference (GDC), SXSW, Games for Change Festival/Tribeca Film Festival, the Boston Festival of Independent Games and many others. He currently serves on the board for the Global Game Jam (2015 Vice President) and served on the board for the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA 2014-2016).
Learn more about Lindsay.

Description2500 people kiss their phones every day. There are hundreds of digital games that require players to flirt, hug, kiss, and make love to meet their goals. Are these games the yin to violent games yang? In the every widening demographic of game players, Affection Games offer a refreshing perspective on how we play. This presentation outlines the variety of affection games providing attendees a comprehensive understanding of this emerging game genre beyond dating sims. What games are popular, how are they played and what do they say about gender and affection dynamics? How do emerging technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality and haptics offer new play potential? Based on several years of academic research.

A fun, high energy tour de force of digital Affection Games. A playful journey through the who, what, where and why of Affection Games from a lead researcher on the topic.

What are digital Affection Games, how are they played and how is affection expressed in these games?
Who plays affection games and what attracts players to these games?
What themes emerge in gender, stereotype, diversity, and the use of technology from Affection Games.

Learn about genre-leading affection games, what formulas succeed in this space, and which ones fail. Independent developers will learn to broaden their demographic and how to venture into this low-barrier-to-entry genre. Attendees will leave with statistics, trends and an exploration of games they probably haven't played. This is an updated version of a GDC 2015 talk I gave at the Indie Game Summit.

Transformational Games

LocationMSU Room
Paper 1

Creating Games to Combat Climate Change
By: Gili Freedman, Max Seidman, Ross Virginia and Mary Flanagan

Although climate change is increasingly seen as an imminent global threat, there is a lack of research on how people’s behaviors and attitudes can be altered to improve the environment (Swim et al., 2010; van der Linden, Maibach, & Leiserowitz, 2015). The present paper provides two examples of how games can be used as interventions to foster environmentally sustainable attitudes and behaviors. Both games show promise for game designers and psychologists interested in harnessing the power of games to improve the environment by increasing sustainable attitudes and behaviors.

Paper 2

Tandem Transformational Game Design: A Game Design Process Case Study
By: Alexandra To, Elaine Fath, Eda Zhang, Safinah Ali, Catherine Kildunne, Anny Fan, Jessica Hammer and Geoff Kaufman

In transformational game design, developing a clear, shared vision of how the player should change as a result of the game is a critical and ongoing process. However, multidisciplinary teams, particularly those comprised of both expert and novice designers and researchers, may experience barriers to a shared vision due to disparate vocabulary and theoretical frameworks. Adding a new contribution to the growing body of approaches that tackle this challenge, we present Tandem Transformational Game Design—a process that uses physical prototypes to continuously anchor a team’s shared alignment to their vision and goals. Drawing on HCI practices that emphasize prototyping to discover and reflect, the Tandem Design approach positions the articulation of game goals and the design of game prototypes as intrinsically intertwined, iterative cycles occurring in tandem with one another, supporting one another as the need arises.

Paper 3

Greenie - Alternative Transportation Means for a More Sustainable Environment through a Serious Game
By: Lydia Sidhom, Slim Abdennadher and Fatema Gabr

The ultimate goal of sustainable development is to improve the quality of life of a society and the world while ensuring the integrity of the life support systems. This affects the life of all humans from one generation to the other as well as our planet. This work has a twofold purpose which is to reduce the traffic congestion and meanwhile increase the public environmental awareness through a serious game. The purpose of the game presented here is to raise people's awareness about the problem of traffic congestion and how it affects the environment and themselves. Moreover, it aims at introducing them to alternative transportation means other than using the car, and measuring the change in their behavior towards their transportation after playing the game.

The Radical, Inclusive Approach to Learning to Code

LocationHuron Room
Presenter(s)John Quick
DescriptionWorld leaders, governments, and organizations around the world are calling for citizens to learn to code. While traditional computer science programs fostered an elitist mentality that frightened away many capable individuals from technology careers, the path to the future is global and inclusive. However, to transform computer programming into something that everyone has the opportunity to do, we must radically redesign our educational approach.

I worked with learners who dreamed of creating games, but had no prior experience in computer programming. They often felt anxious and unworthy of studying the topic. Under a traditional approach, they would greatly suffer and likely give up on their dreams. This experience inspired me to create the Learn to Code (LTC) instructional method. LTC is a practical, hands-on approach that motivates learners to implement their own solutions to game development challenges. In each challenge, learners code tangible game components that allow them to rapidly witness the outcome of their efforts. As learners succeed, they build confidence and competence. LTC has been applied in university classrooms, self-paced learning environments, and game development books. I invite you to join me in this workshop to find out how you can improve your instructional approach and help diverse learners succeed in becoming better game developers.

Passages and Pedagogies: Classroom Applications for the Twine Platform

LocationSuperior Room
Presenter(s)Dan Cox, Howard Fooksman, Kristopher Purzycki and Cody Mejeur
DescriptionAs Twine has developed into a powerful tool for game creation, it has also enjoyed increasing support by educators who employ it as a means for teaching composition of creative works, research, and information visualization. Sharing assignments, experiences, and resources, this panel will discuss Twine’s role and use in classroom settings.

Using Non-digital Play for Facilitation of Learning Goals

LocationLake Michigan
Presenter(s)Ian Zang
DescriptionParticipants in this workshop will learn how to create and utilize board and card games in your curriculum. Game creation is a valuable tool for teachers and presenters but can also be implemented as a learner-driven activity as well. This workshop uses 21st century skills as a backdrop for facilitated games in learning.

The presenter, Ian Zang, is the Assistant Manager of Science and Education at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA where he presents on using games and game design in educational settings. Ian graduated from Michigan State University with a Master's degree in Education and taught 7th-12th grade science in Detroit and Howell, MI and for three years before moving to Pennsylvania.

Ian is also involved in the design and development of board and card games, working both with hobby board game companies and multinational corporation. He has been involved in hobby board game projects like Seafall, Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, Xtronaut, and designed 'Categorise!', a proprietary game used in a procurement company's worldwide trainings.

Participants will leave the workshop having created a content-focused game for use in your classroom or professional development along with ideas about how to encourage their own learners to create games for meaningful learning.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

LocationLake Ontario
Paper 1

Virtual to Functional Reality - Using Virtual Reality to Teach Individuals With Intellectual Disability Real World Skills
By: Tony Morelli, Jordan Shurr, Andrea Jasper, Meagan McCollow, Ethan Coggins and Molly Rossman

Students in special education programs may benefit from using virtual reality to learn real world skills. Virtual reality headsets can focus the student's attention on the task at hand as opposed to standard computer learning methodologies where the student's attention may switch to other items within the room. This paper presents research that analyzes the use of virtual reality with training for students in special education programs. It was found that learning improvement was significantly faster when using head mounted virtual reality displays as opposed to using a standard computer training environment.

Paper 2

Augmented Personal Experience - Run Time Video Game Accessibility (Top Paper Award)
By: Taylor Ripke and Tony Morelli

As technology naturally progressed over time, video games became increasingly complex as strategy and fast-paced first-person shooters require a high level adherence to finite details coupled with the ability to react to unpredictable situations without hesitation. These games coincided with advancements in game input devices, giving players more control, and allowed for game mechanics to require substantial thought and memorization skills. However, this complexity presents significant challenges for some players, as many modern games do not provide the necessary accessibility features for everyone to play. Most games do not offer multiple language subtitles or the option for extra assistance in the game. Nevertheless, preexisting games without accessibility features built in can be made more accessible through responsive programming. This paper presents a system for augmenting existing video games with assistive visual and audio cues. Image processing algorithms give players active feedback on the current state of the game and offer advice on how to complete a specific task with additional information added to the existing video game presentation.

Paper 3

Game Transfer Phenomena in the Augmented Reality Game Ingress
By: Cynthia Sifonis

Oritz de Gotari & Griffiths (2014) demonstrated that extended game play can result in automatic thoughts and involuntary behaviors associated with the game. This is known as Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP) and is a common video gaming phenomenon. A neglected area of videogame research is that of augmented reality (AR) gaming in which players play in the real world using smartphones. In AR games, the game world is represented as an overlay in the real world. Whereas AR has been examined for its potential for education, little research has examined potential positive or negative effects of playing AR games. The current research examined the degree to which the factors affecting GTP in AR games are similar to that affecting GTP in video games. 867 players of the augmented reality game Ingress responded to a survey examining the degree to which they experienced the subtypes of GTP. AR gamers exhibited all types of GTP to some extent. Unlike traditional video games in which altered auditory perceptions was the most common type of GTP, the most common type of augmented reality GTP was automatic thought processes. Female Ingress players were significantly more likely to experience GTP than males. 18% of players experienced reverse GTP in which real world actions were used to interact with the game. Future research should examine the causes of increased GTP in females and the mechanisms underlying reverse GTP across multiple types of AR games.

Friday, October 21, 11:30a-1:00p

Birds of a Feather Lunch (on your own) and Industry/Student Meet'n'Greet



Friday lunch is not provided. Take this time to socialize with your fellow conference attendees while enjoying the many dining venues within downtown East Lansing.

If you are interested in lunching with like minded individuals, there will be Birds of a Feather meet-up signs in the lobby. Meet at one of the signs and go to lunch together. The groups include:
  • Educational Games
  • Health Games
  • Research and Funding
  • Design and Development
  • Students
  • Virtual Reality

Industry/Student Meet'n'Greet

From 11:30-12:15 is an Industry/Student Meet'n'Greet in the Ballroom. If you are a student interested in talking with some of the companies attending Meaningful Play, please come and bring your resumes. If you are a company interested in meeting some talent, please come ready to discuss opportunities at your company.

Coursera Meet'n'Greet

From 12:00-1:00 in the Tower Room is a meet up for current and former students in the Coursera Game Design and Development specialization.

Friday, October 21, 1:00p-2:00p

Game Design and Tourism: Two Fields that Play Well Together!

LocationMSU Union Ballroom
Presenter(s)Elizabeth Lawley
DescriptionWith the growing popularity of location-based games and augmented reality applications, an opportunity is arising for tourism destinations to work with game designers and developers to create applications that engage tourists in exploring and learning about the places they visit. In fact, the fields of game design and hospitality/tourism research share a great many similarities in their focus on user experience, motivation, and engagement.

In 2009, I produced a large-scale alternate reality game that was a partnership between our university and our local newspaper, with a focus on engaging local residents in the history and culture of our region. In 2011, I worked with faculty and students at our university to produce a an achievement system intended to engage our undergraduate students more deeply in both our campus and the local community. And in 2015, I received a Fulbright grant to explore the intersection of games and tourism in the popular European vacation destination of Dubrovnik, Croatia.

All of these experiences have shown me that there is much for game designers to learn from tourism and hospitality experts, and great potential for game designers to provide insight into the challenges faced by researchers and practitioners in tourism and hospitality.

In this talk, I will discuss the intersections and complementary components of these two fields, describe a variety of creative examples of tourist-focused games, and discuss the potential for partnerships that benefit both academics and practitioners in each field.

Games and Learning

LocationMSU Room
Paper 1

Design and evaluation of a cybersecurity education game
By: Paul Gestwicki and Kaleb Stumbaugh

We present the background, design, and evaluation of Social Startup Game--an original cybersecurity education game for ages 10-16. The game is designed with two primary goals: first, to teach the player fundamentals of cybersecurity, and second, to show them possible careers and educational paths to careers in cybersecurity. Social Startup Game is a single-player strategy game in which the player takes the role of a security consultant at a fictional social media software development company, Social Jam. The player balances the tasks of their employees to maximize user acquisition while reducing security vulnerabilities; during the simulation, the player has to make several narrative-based decisions that are designed to foreground our design goals. We evaluated the game using a qualitative research methodology involving semi-structured interviews and recorded gameplay with thirteen minors in our target demographic. This led to four primary findings: the players have mixed views about the role of education and degree toward career goals; there are diverse opinions about professional developers' appearances and interests; players' background knowledge had a significant impact on their ability to learn from playing the game; and there were two distinct modes of character-based decision making, which we distinguish as pragmatic or empathic. Among our conclusions are the need for continued study of the role of characters, narrative, and player background in educational simulation games, especially with respect to classical theories of constructivist learning and more contemporary theories of situated learning.

Paper 2

Embedding Gestures into Narrative Tutor-games to learn Fractions?!
By: Michael Swart, Jonathan M. Vitale and John B. Black

Combining gesture and narrative together, the research team designed and developed Mobile Mathematics Movement (M3). Two independent variables, gesture (I vs. D) and narrative (S vs. W), allowed developers to create 4 versions of the tutor-game, M3:i3: SI, SD, WI, WD, where students split objects (i.e., parts-to-whole) schema (Steffe, 2004) and determine equivalency between objects. In the study, students (n=131) from New York City after school programs were randomly assigned to 1 of the 4 conditions and completed parallel pre/post assessments, played all seven levels of the tutor-game, filled out exit surveys and a 7-minute semi-structured clinical interview. Results suggest that particular combinations of gestures and narratives are differentially beneficial to learners of varying proficiencies. This research has significant implications for the design and development of meaningful math games.

Paper 3

An Empirical Comparison of a Video Game and a Digital Video as a Pre Reading Activity for Comprehension and Problem Solving
By: Brock Dubbels

This study examines the role of video games and digital video as pre-reading activities for improving motivation, recall, comprehension and problem solving. A video game provides multimodal representation, increasing accurate representation and experience, and diminishing the need for guesswork. Games structure incremental learning through practice, feedback, and rehearsal—activities traditionally offered by a teacher in one-on-one training for the development of learning strategies for reading instruction. Well-constructed, interactive game should be more effective than re-reading strategies, or watching a digital video. A sample of 132 students was randomly assigned to one of three media conditions, controlled for interaction and feedback. Each participant was pretested for prior knowledge, working memory, comprehension, reading ability, and media preference. Both the video game and video improved performance in recall, comprehension, and problem solving—but the game was much more effective as a pre-reading activity. Multiple comprehension assessments were used in the form of protocol analysis (construction of walkthrough), multiple-choice questions, and a word problem. The embodied game provided superior pre-reading preparation, superior mental representation, and superior identification of causal relationships between narrative events across the comprehension assessments.

Twine Workshop and Game Jam (part 1)

LocationHuron Room
Presenter(s)Kelly M. Tran, Earl Aguilera and Mark Chen
DescriptionTwine ( has recently garnered attention for being an accessible easy-to-use game design tool (Anthropy, 2012; Chen, 2015). It has been especially popular amongst those who might be outsiders to the game design community (Kopas, 2015) and represents a different way of making games from using other design tools which might require more technical knowledge. This proposed workshop is an extension/iteration of a Twine design workshop which will be held at the Games, Learning, and Society conference in August.

Twine boasts a simple, easy-to-use interface. Twine games are, on a basic level, much like choose-your-own adventure books. In these books, readers are presented with choices (to fight the dragon, turn to page 53; to sneak around it, turn to page 84). In Twine games, players face choices which lead to branching story decisions. The process of designing a Twine game involves writing different parts of a game and linking them together. Users take on the role of designers that can easily offer their players choices about how the game should proceed. Using simple programming logic, a Twine designer can add additional layers of complexity into a game, such using an if-then statement to see whether or not a user has found a key to open a particular door.
Participants will be given a brief tutorial on basic features of Twine, followed by an extended period of time for participants to experiment with creating a game using the platform. As the organizers of the workshop, we will set up a website that is accessible to participants to provide further support and resources for engaging in the design process. This will serve as a resource to participants as they make their games.

The remainder of the workshop will be reserved for participants to play others' games. At the end of the session, we will have a brief group discussion about Twine, participants' impressions of the tools, and implications for using such a game design tool in industry, research, and formal and informal educational settings. True to the spirit of game jams, the idea will not be to make a finished or perfect product, but rather encourage creativity and participation within the bounds of a supportive co-learning community.

Target Audience. Any conference attendee who wants to try making a Twine game. No prior programming or game design experience is necessary and we will cover the basics of the tool.

Skills Gained. Participants will learn the basics of the tool and will come away with either a completed game or one they can continue to work on. Participants will be encouraged to upload their games to the free Twine hosting site and share their games with other conference attendees using a hashtag for the workshop.

Meaningful Play Learning Postmortems

LocationSuperior Room
Presenter(s)Lindsay Grace, Tanner Jackson and Mark Chen, and Tobi Saulnier
DescriptionThis panel will contain the following microtalks:

1) Engaging Game Based Assessments: Design, Development and Evaluation

This lecture provides a post-mortem of 3 of our projects in game based assessment and the lessons learned in collaborating between a university based game studio and the private non-profit Educational Testing Services (ETS). The presentation outlines the two trajectory approach to meeting both organizations' goals, meeting both short term needs for funding cycles and long-term research objectives of academic institutions.

Beyond providing a post-mortem on the design process, effective project management strategies and communication approaches, we discuss how we adapted a client studio production model toward a collaborative, mutually beneficial set of research objectives that yielded published game research in less than 15 months. The collaboration is now beginning its 3rd year and the results are promising.

With nearly 200 study participants preliminary results on the quality of assessment produced from the games is positive. Most interestingly, we are beginning to provide evidence to the claim that engagement in game based assessments is best supported by effective game mechanics, not necessarily game aesthetics. As part of these studies, we compared two games. The first, a game called Robot Sorter, is merely a True-False sort with the aesthetics and other accoutrement of a game. The second, Text Messenger, doesn’t look like a game at all, but plays like one. Using a within subjects design we demonstrate from both pilot study (n=22) and preliminary study (n=100) that player of Text Messenger were more engaged, more likely to continue playing and more attentive than players of Robot Sorter.

The latest game in this research takes the findings from these first games and applies it to the assessment of language use in socio-pragmatics (aka socio-linguistics).

This presentation should be useful to organizational leaders seeking to understand how to effectively shepherd game projects through a combination of institutional investment, collaborative exploration and triad funding scenarios. It is also useful in understanding the challenges of disparate collaboration between teams, iterative pursuit of research goals within funded projects, and adapting research needs to evolving institutional goals.

The presentation will include a variety of concrete and creative heuristics as well as the three game case studies . The projects managed under this relationship represent a significant portion of the American University Game Studio’s ~200K annual portfolio of projects. The studio has been in operation for 3 years, funded through a wide range of clients and partners including The World Bank, Education Testing Services, Deloitte Consulting and the National institutes of Mental Health

2) In-Game Progress Not Necessarily Indicator of Engagement nor Learning

This study argues that progress in a college-readiness game for middle-school students is not necessarily an indicator of engagement nor of learning. Researchers visited an after-school site and video recorded 10 students from local middle schools to document and analyze gameplay, facial expression, posture, and chat utterances. Two extreme cases (one student finished the game while the other struggled) are contrasted to show that engagement can take on many forms and that how far students progressed in the game was not a good measure for this engagement. This study helps researchers see that planning assessments for learning games requires careful thought about what is being measured.

3) The Fiscal Ship: Designing a Civic Game in Partisan Washington - Process and Outcomes

Developed by 1st Playable Productions, the Fiscal Ship game ( is a joint venture of the Hutchins Center and the Serious Games Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Says Hutchins Center director David Wessel: “We wanted to make a game that was more fun and accessible than the souped-up spreadsheets that are widely available on the web. We wanted to emphasize that decisions about taxes and spending are not only about the deficit and the debt, but also about values, the ones embodied in our governing goals. We wanted to give players the option of increasing spending in one area and cutting it another or paying for it in higher taxes. And we wanted to show that stabilizing the debt is difficult, but possible.” Most importantly the goal was to provide a nonpartisan experience in which players could discover whether beliefs they learned from candidates and social networks were supported by the real policies and data. We hoped that they also would discover that they had fewer differences with the “other side” when it came down to choices that would solve the budget. A worthy goal, however there were substantial design challenges in creating the game. First, the topic, the federal budget, is filled with numbers, projections, and dense descriptions of budget policies that are not accessible to the typical Candy Crush player. Second, the game would not be effective if it appeared to represent a partisan point of view; while at the same time players needed to care about the outcome. Finally, in order to be approachable to a busy voter, the game had to be playable in under thirty minutes. This talk will provide an entertaining and detailed case study as to the design and creative constraints imposed by these challenges, ranging from use of color, narrative and humor, and game objectives. What would be simple design choices, such as the selection of game objectives, had to be finessed such that voters from any point of view could have an experience that was tailored to their belief structure, enabling them to explore the data with an open mind. Color choices for the HUD and iconography in the game had to steer clear of political associations, as well as not appear to casting judgment as to the “safe” levels of debt. The resulting game successfully allows players of all persuasions to gain new insights from real world policies and real world numbers derived from Congressional Budget Office projections. In this era of political gridlock and discourse dominated by sound bites and rhetoric, games like The Fiscal Ship has the potential to be a real factor in improving our society by teaching students and the public at large.

Serious Games and Exercises Typology Workshop

LocationLake Michigan
Presenter(s)Joseph Wolfe
DescriptionA theory and research-based typology of serious games and exercises has been created. Its catalog holds over 130 experiences of historic and current interest. This workshop seeks to increase the field's knowledge and use of the typology for those who research, use and create such experiential-based pedagogical methods. Participants will be informed of the typology's construction as well as the system's coding guide used to identify the characteristics of its object games and simulations. In addition to the conference's regular attendees, a pre-drawn sample of the conference's exhibitors will be invited to participate in the encoding of their experiences as a test of the typology's efficacy.

Indigenous and Participatory Games

LocationLake Ontario
Paper 1

Digitizing Indigenous Storytelling in Never Alone: Games, Ritual, and Understanding (Top Paper Award)
By: Tanya Zuk

"Never Alone: Kisima Inŋitchuŋa" leverages “embodied storytelling” to incorporate players into the Iñupiaq’s ritual of storytelling through gameplay, thus leveraging the connection between ritual and game (Gee, 2003, 81). Using a variety of traditional and culturally specific elements in the world building and game design Never Alone presents a fully contextualized experience for gamers.

Paper 2

Participatory Game Design for Life Skills in Rural India: A Multi-Site Case Study
By: Sreeram Kongeseri, Srividya Sheshadri, Alexander Muir, Christopher Coley and Rao R Bhavani

We present a game concept designed to teach life skills in rural India: ​Abhi Ya Kabhi (AYK, pronounced ah­BEE ya ka­BEE) meaning “If not now, then when?” This concept has been designed in a highly participatory process with forty participants in five rural village sites across five states in India. The concept includes a light strategy game for people with low to middle general literacy, as well as low game literacy. The rural Indian population is mostly at or below the poverty line, and wrestles with multiple “wicked problems.” Our participatory model is designed to be contextually sensitive and maximally productive for the target communities.

Paper 3

An Evaluation of Games for Advocacy in Health and Human Rights (Top Paper Award)
By: Soroya Julian McFarlane and Lien Tran

Serious games are designed around a public issue – such as health or a social cause – with the intent to raise awareness or bring about a behavior change through giving players a realistic understanding of the issue. This study primarily contributes qualitative evidence of games as a viable communication platform for advocacy in health and human rights. Using a qualitative design with control groups and treatment groups, 9 focus groups were facilitated in March 2016 with over 50 South African advocacy leaders, representing more than 15 human rights organizations. Participants of the study either played a game or read a report, both based on the same critical human rights issue. Transcribed focus group conversations were analyzed using Nvivo 11 qualitative software, and using a constant comparison analytical method. Preliminary results demonstrated that serious games for health have potential to be effective tools for advocacy for diverse causes and populations, especially at particular levels of prior knowledge or experience by players.

Friday, October 21, 2:00p-2:30p


Friday, October 21, 2:30p-3:30p

VR Experiences for Kids: Design Best Practices

LocationMSU Union Ballroom
Presenter(s)Tobi Saulnier
DescriptionMost of the hype associated with VR has been focused on high end devices, aimed at core gamers or sophisticated technical or scientific applications. We believe the true game changer is the accessibility that consumer level devices and experiences offer to those traditionally disenfranchised by lack of equal access to “wow” experiences that inspire and excite early learners. Google Cardboard and the related Expeditions experiences open this world to students of all socioeconomic groups, and all ages.

This talk will explore the design learning associated with creating a suite of five games for young audiences. These games range from a VR-book (The Three Little Pigs), to two motion managed exploration experiences (Stone Age Snap, and Squeeds), to two movement based play experiences (Super Box Forts, RAWWWR). Key design challenges unique to VR, and this age group, will be described, including

  • Dealing with the ergonomic challenges faced by a young audience
  • Managing the performance constraints of BYOP consumer VR
  • Accounting for young players lack of separation between real and virtual
  • Accommodating the current unknowns related to impact on vision and brain development
  • Strategies related to the current age rating for most VR devices

VR technology has the potential to transform the learning experiences of today’s preschoolers, similar to how access to the world wide web democratized access to information, however new design theory and heuristics are needed to unlock this potential.

Transformational Games

LocationMSU Room
Paper 1

Transformational Play: Game design as Meaningful Play for Foreign Language + Culture Learning
By: Cary Staples and Sebastien Dubreil

This presentation examines game design as a model to organize transformative learning experiences; in this instance, foreign language (L2) development in a rich, culturally authentic context. A group of 12 students guided by two faculty members designed and developed an innovative approach to language learning in the form of an immersive mobile game designed to enhance the teaching/learning of the French language and culture to elementary-level students.

Paper 2

Solving the Feedback Problem in Crowdsourcing Games: Design Lessons from Smorball
By: Max Seidman, Mary Flanagan and Gili Freedman

In recent work (Seidman, Flanagan, Rose-Sandler & Lichtenberg, 2016), we outline the algorithms and processes by which we verify player’s responses in crowdsourcing games, and are able to determine accurate responses. In this paper, we focus on design. Crowdsourcing games, which seek to motivate users to complete human intelligence tasks through enjoyable gameplay, pose unique design challenges not encountered when designing entertainment-only (non-impactful) games or non-game crowdsourcing applications. These challenges often present themselves in the form of a trade-off: risk lower task efficiency or data quality to improve gameplay and user experience, or vice versa. Chief among the challenges to designing crowdsourcing games is the “feedback problem”: a game must be able to provide feedback to the player about whether her action was correct or incorrect. While a crowdsourcing application can thank a user for contributing data without commenting on whether that data was helpful or not, a crowdsourcing game, in order to be compelling, ought to be able to reward the player for submitting good data and avoid rewarding the player for submitting low quality data. Since, however, the crowdsourcing game system by definition cannot tell whether player-submitted data is correct (otherwise the task could be automated), providing feedback to the player risks reinforcing the wrong behaviors: marking the player incorrect when she has completed the task correctly, or vice versa. This paper investigates design aspects, and in particular, how the feedback problem in the creation of crowdsourcing games can be effectively addressed. We illustrate this concept using the design of the document transcription game Smorball (2015), winner of the Boston Festival of Indie Games’ Best Serious Game award, as a case study.

Paper 3

The Mattering Circle: How Social Gaming Can Promote Mattering among Golden Gamers
By: Jessica Francis, Christopher Ball, Tim Huang and Julie Brown

Older adults are susceptible to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression. The theoretical concept of “mattering” has been shown to protect against these negative aspects of aging, thus promoting healthy aging and increased well-being. In essence, mattering is a person’s belief that they are important and relied upon by others. We argue that digital games are uniquely positioned to promote a sense of mattering among older adults. Furthermore, we posit that digital games can be designed to encourage social interactions and social presence, which may increase older adults’ feelings of mattering. Preliminary qualitative interviews suggest that mattering has a cyclical effect on older adults by both serving as a motivating factor that actively engages older adults in gameplay and as a beneficial outcome that can contribute to healthy aging and increased well-being. Given the insightful responses from our interviewees, we believe there is both a theoretical and practical justification for further exploring the mattering circle with forthcoming quantitative data. Therefore, we are in the process of conducting a small scale survey of older adult gamers, or "golden gamers", to determine how mattering influences their lives and well-being.

Twine Workshop and Game Jam (part 2)

LocationHuron Room
Presenter(s)Kelly M. Tran, Earl Aguilera and Mark Chen
DescriptionTwine ( has recently garnered attention for being an accessible easy-to-use game design tool (Anthropy, 2012; Chen, 2015). It has been especially popular amongst those who might be outsiders to the game design community (Kopas, 2015) and represents a different way of making games from using other design tools which might require more technical knowledge. This proposed workshop is an extension/iteration of a Twine design workshop which will be held at the Games, Learning, and Society conference in August.

Twine boasts a simple, easy-to-use interface. Twine games are, on a basic level, much like choose-your-own adventure books. In these books, readers are presented with choices (to fight the dragon, turn to page 53; to sneak around it, turn to page 84). In Twine games, players face choices which lead to branching story decisions. The process of designing a Twine game involves writing different parts of a game and linking them together. Users take on the role of designers that can easily offer their players choices about how the game should proceed. Using simple programming logic, a Twine designer can add additional layers of complexity into a game, such using an if-then statement to see whether or not a user has found a key to open a particular door.
Participants will be given a brief tutorial on basic features of Twine, followed by an extended period of time for participants to experiment with creating a game using the platform. As the organizers of the workshop, we will set up a website that is accessible to participants to provide further support and resources for engaging in the design process. This will serve as a resource to participants as they make their games.

The remainder of the workshop will be reserved for participants to play others' games. At the end of the session, we will have a brief group discussion about Twine, participants' impressions of the tools, and implications for using such a game design tool in industry, research, and formal and informal educational settings. True to the spirit of game jams, the idea will not be to make a finished or perfect product, but rather encourage creativity and participation within the bounds of a supportive co-learning community.

Target Audience. Any conference attendee who wants to try making a Twine game. No prior programming or game design experience is necessary and we will cover the basics of the tool.

Skills Gained. Participants will learn the basics of the tool and will come away with either a completed game or one they can continue to work on. Participants will be encouraged to upload their games to the free Twine hosting site and share their games with other conference attendees using a hashtag for the workshop.

Growing the Game Industry in Michigan: 2016 Update

LocationSuperior Room
Presenter(s)Moderator: Brian Winn
DescriptionIn the last several years there have been efforts to reinvigorate the Michigan economy by diversifying and growing new high-tech, health, and entertainment industries. The game industry is one such industry that Michigan hopes to foster within the state.

At Meaningful Play 2008 - 2014, this panel discussed the challenges and barriers that Michigan faced in terms of attracting and growing a local game industry.

But what has happened since then? This dynamic panel of Michigan game industry veterans, state leaders, and academics will explore the successes and failures of the last two years, discuss the challenges that remain, and potential solutions to growing a strong game industry in the state.

Panelists include:
Derek Paxton, Stardock
Ben Mazza, Pixo Group
Chris Allers, YETi CGI, Inc.
Scott Reschke, Strength in Numbers Studios, Inc.
Scott Brodie, Heart Shaped Games
Cory Heald, Underbite Games
Elan Gleiber, oddByte Games
Tony Garcia, Michigan Film & Digital Media Office
Julia Winter, Alchemie

Integrating Video and Board Games into Classrooms

LocationLake Michigan
Presenter(s)Phill Cameron, John Beals, Val Waldron and Brenda Imber
DescriptionThis workshop is designed for two groups of people. First, it is for instructors who would like to incorporate off the shelf games into their classrooms, but do not know how to start. Second, it is for instructional designers who are designing non-academic workshops or courses based on off the shelf games, or who may be assisting instructors in academic curriculum design based around games.

This workshop will give attendees a series of lenses similar to the work Jesse Schell did in his book "The Art of Game Design" through which to evaluate how well, and in what ways, off the shelf games may fit into a particular assignment, unit, or course.

During this workshop, we will use a pilot course from summer 2014 as a case study to discuss issues we encountered while integrating games into the curriculum, including (but not limited to):

  • Designing the curriculum to create a structured environment meant to teach students the course material
  • Transforming the casual experience of teaching a game into an opportunity to learn practical material
  • Tools to assess learning throughout each class session and to encourage students to stay focused on learning goals
  • Logistics, concerns and challenges that emerged during the initial pilot phase
  • Human and departmental resources required during the initial pilot phase

In small groups, we will play a game used in the pilot course, then we will reconvene and brainstorm ways in which this, and other games, can be used at various levels of instruction. In the final segment of the workshop, participants practice what they have learned by evaluating several hypothetical case studies intended to provoke thought about using games creatively in the classroom and integrating games into courses or programs. Attendees are encouraged to bring in their own scenarios for further discussion.

Avatars and Community

LocationLake Ontario
Paper 1

Tracking Learning Resources in a Competitive Gaming Community
By: Sean Duncan

The present study reports on a case of “games with learning” -- or understanding the ways learning practices evolve and are employed within authentic gaming practice -- via a study of the identity resources (Nasir & Cooks, 2009) used by participants in a competitive gaming community. Focusing on player practice within the competitive card game Android: Netrunner, I describe the design practices employed by a top-level player, Simon (a pseudonym). Analysis uncovers that Simon's approach to deck design and deck building in the competitive game reflects a sophisticate melding of material, relational, and ideational resources (Nasir & Cooks, 2009). Further research is argued to tease out the ways that motivated, authentic game practices such as these drive learning with games in the "wild."

Paper 2

Veneer: A Digital Visual Novel Game Exploring Player Empathy
By: Felicia Tucker

This paper describes the design and development of Veneer, a digital visual novel, developed to explore empathy during game play. In particular, this game uses well-developed character avatars, with strong personality traits and a clear back-story, to explore player empathy with the character avatars and to explore the extent to which player actions reflect the character’s and the player’s personality. Many games have less developed character personalities and back-stories, which sometimes leads to players feeling disconnected from the character they are playing, and thus player actions in the game may not reflect actions that the character would take. Veneer was designed with two main character avatars, one that is altruistic and one that is narcissistic, and players are faced with choices throughout the game in which they can decide the path of the game. The game can serve as a platform to explore whether players make choices that align with the avatar's personality or if players make choices that align with the player’s own personality traits regardless of the avatar. It can also be used to investigate whether playing the game as both avatars, each with its own distinct personality, will result in any change in behavior in the player. These questions will be explored in future work.

Paper 3

Meaningful Mediated Selves: Examining how game-based mechanisms influence avatar identification and embodiment and thus potentially moderate the Proteus effect
By: Rabindra Ratan, Chih An Wan, Christopher Kmiec, Celina Wanek, Jiat Chow Tan, Malinda Robedeau, Adam Cockman, Maxwell Miller, Elan Gleiber and Scott Holzknecht

This study examines how specific mechanics of self-mediation — avatar identity and control scheme — induce feelings of identification with and embodiment in an avatar within an endless-runner game designed for these research purposes. Findings from a lab-based, within-subjects experiment with 70 participants suggest that these mechanics influence identification and embodiment, mostly with medium and large effect sizes. Using an own-identity (compared to a randomly generated) avatar led to the highest amount of identification and also contributed positively to embodiment. Having a greater amount of control over the avatar led to the highest amount of embodiment and also contributed positively to identification. More interestingly, when using an own-identity avatar, identification was higher when the control scheme led to a low rather than high amount of cognitive load. Conversely, when using a randomly generated avatar, identification was higher when the control scheme led to a high rather than low amount of cognitive load. These findings are consistent with previous research and also contribute new theoretical insights about the psychological mechanisms of the Proteus effect. Such insights will inform future research and interventions that apply the Proteus effect toward positive outcomes in meaningful societal contexts, such as education and health.

Friday, October 21, 3:30p-4:00p


Friday, October 21, 4:00p-5:00p

Playing in a New Reality: The Virtual Landscape

LocationMSU Union Ballroom

Halcyone Wise (Cy)Halcyone Wise (Cy) is a games industry generalist, consultant, and sociologist residing in Austin, TX. A ten-year games industry veteran, she has worked on award winning MMO titles including Lineage I & II, Guild Wars I & II, Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa, and Wizard 101. She returned to the University of Texas in 2012 to complete her studies in Sociology. She specialized in video game communities, internet fandoms, and emergent computer-mediated communications and identities. She has since gone on to work on multiple VR titles including Oculus-exclusive Chronos, and Owlchemy Labs' multi-platform, room-scale title, Job Simulator.

When she is not professionally managing VR communities, she is casually managing VR communities as a co-organizer of VR Austin, the second largest VR meetup in the United States. She can also be found haunting her old university as a guest lecturer, and producing any convention, event, or gathering of minds that will have her. She is currently Owlchemy Labs' multi-hat-wearing designer, marketer, writer and community wrangler, colloquially called "Owlmancer.".

DescriptionVirtual Reality is finally accessible to consumers. And with new access to tech, comes the onslaught of discoveries, both about what it does and does not do well. VR development is currently an exercise in trial and error (a lot of error) as we try to understand how best to utilize this new medium. In this talk, we will look at the current state of VR, how we got there, what we have discovered about fooling your brain for fun and profit, and the potential for the future. This is from the perspective of a team that has been mad enough to fully commit the future of their company to this volatile new landscape.

Friday, October 21, 5:00p-7:00p

Dinner Break (on your own)

DescriptionDinner is not provided. Take this time to socialize with your fellow conference attendees while enjoying the many dining venues within the East Lansing and Lansing area.

Friday, October 21, 7:00p-10:00p

Pure Michigan Game Exhibition and Celebration

LocationMSU Union Ballroom
FormatSpecial Event
DescriptionDuring this energetic game exhibition and celebration, you can play games; meet and mingle with several Michigan-based game developers, including Stardock, Pixo Group, Underbite Games, Yeti CGI, Strength in Numbers Studios, Digital Gamecraft, Heart Shaped Games, oddByte Games, Alchemie, Joy Machine, and student developers; explore exciting opportunities in Michigan; and enjoy yourself with drinks and appetizers.

This event is sponsored by The Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.

Saturday, October 22, 8:00a-9:00a

Registration Check-In and Continental Breakfast

LocationLobby (2nd floor of the MSU Union)
DescriptionThe registration table is outside of the ballroom on the second floor of the MSU Union building.

NOTE: The registration table will be open across the conference day.

The breakfast is sponsored by the Media Sandbox.

Saturday, October 22, 9:00a-10:00a

The Impact of Video Games On Our Children, Society and Culture - Should We Be Worried?

LocationMSU Union Ballroom

Michealene Cristini RisleyMichealene Cristini Risley is an award-winning writer, director and human rights activist. She has worked with a number of fortune 100 companies such as Sega of America, Zynga, the Walt Disney Company, Marvel Comics, Nike, and Adidas. She ran for the Americans Elect nomination for President of the United States in 2012. Michealene founded and ran the non-profit organization Freshwater Haven from 2002 - 2014 to address the dramatic social change that is required to stop physical, sexual and emotional abuse of women and children.

As an award winning filmmaker, Michealene Cristini Risley co-wrote and directed Tapestries of Hope, a feature-length documentary that exposes the myth behind the belief that raping a virgin cures a man of HIV/AIDS. Her trip to Zimbabwe resulted in her being imprisoned and deported in an attempt by the Mugabe-led government police to quash her telling the story of Betty Makoni, a Zimbabwean child and human rights activist (a CNN top 10 hero for 2009) whose Girl Child Network rescues abused girls and provides them counseling, healing and educational support.

Currently, Michealene continues to focus on merging her corporate life with her work on human rights issues as well as innovative ways to leverage technology and media to create awareness and social change. Learn more about Michealene.

DescriptionVideo games can be innocent and fun, yet their is a growing body of evidence that shows some games reward misogyny and abuse. This learned behavior feeds into widespread violence against women and girls. What can we do about it?

Saturday, October 22, 10:00a-10:15a


Saturday, October 22, 10:15a-11:15a

Verby Nouns: A Casual Well Played

LocationMSU Union Ballroom

Drew DavidsonDrew Davidson is the Director of the Entertainment Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a professor, producer and player of interactive media. His background spans academic, industry and professional worlds and he is interested in stories across texts, comics, games and other media. He completed his Ph.D. in Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to that, he received a B.A. and M.A. in Communications Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He chaired Game Art & Design and Interactive Media Design at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and the Art Institute Online. Drew has taught and researched at several universities. Drew also consults for a variety of companies, institutions and organizations.

DescriptionWith this presentation, I will analyze several "verby noun" casual games (a la Crossy Road), in order to parse out the experience of playing this genre of mobile games. I approach this from the perspective of how the game mechanics and features encourage us to play these games in short regular bursts ideal for mobile platforms. Sequences from several games will be played and in order to illustrate how the various components of these games come together to create a compelling gameplay experience. While similar and simple, these games offer some interesting variations on a set of core mechanics to make for some fun casual games.

Process and Production Studies

LocationMSU Room
Paper 1

Engineering a Collaborative Framework for Applied Game Development
By: Carrie Crossley, Alexia Mandeville, Kelsey Binninger, Angelica Garcia and Samantha F. Warta

The field of applied game development is highly interdisciplinary, requiring collaboration from many expert groups including game developers, instructional designers, and researchers. Although this collaboration is necessary to create a successful product, it is often difficult for experts to unify their diverse knowledge, opinions, and goals. A comprehensive literature review illustrates that there are many barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration, which frequently lead to communication issues between various expert groups. In an applied game development setting, this often results in experiences that lack effective learning content, engaging mechanics, or proper data collection methodologies. This article examines the roles of various expert groups involved in the development of applied games and identifies the gaps between goals, ideas, and understanding of these groups. The authors propose a solution framework that is designed to close these gaps in order to promote more effective practices for the research and development of applied games.

Paper 2

A Web-based Scrum Process Management Game
By: Bruce Maxim, David Edwards, Ethan Evans, Christopher Apzynski, Margaret Kellow and Raspinder Kaur

Many computing students do not receive adequate training in software quality management. Some students do not have the opportunity to practice software process improvement activities even if they do see the topics covered in their course lectures and textbooks. We have created a serious game that will serve as a virtual learning environment to allow students to explore agile process improvement practices. Our web-based game is designed as a single-player game where the player takes the role of software team leader and plays against an AI (artificial intelligence) opponent representing the customer’s interests and needs. Players are rewarded for developing project strategies that allow for completion of projects on time, within budget, and meet the necessary software quality requirements.

Paper 3

Picture the Impossible: Designing, Deploying, and Evaluating a Community-Based Game
By: Elizabeth Lawley

Location-based games have been available for mobile phones and other devices since at least 2003, and are becoming increasingly popular and visible with the widespread adoption of smartphones and the successful introduction and widespread coverage of the popular game Pokémon Go!. This paper describes the design, implementation, and assessment of a seven-week-long, city-wide game with location-based and web-based components, by a team of university faculty and students, in collaboration with a local newspaper. It discusses the challenges and benefits of a design and development process shared between the two organizations, the many activities and mechanics comprising the game and their relative success in both engagement and impact, and the lessons learned for future development.

First Person Researcher (part 2)

LocationHuron Room
Presenter(s)Stephanie Coopman, Ted Coopman, Rio Garcia, Spencer Lofting, Wesley Rodriguez and Tyler Lofting
DescriptionLed by two faculty and four student researchers, participants will develop research skills essential to designing meaningful play. Participants will complete micro studies of games in this two-session workshop--one session the first day of the conference and the second session the last day. Participants will be introduced to multiple methods for generating rich data that can provide insights into game impacts and consequences, the effectiveness of game design, player styles and experiences, and strategies for creating better games. Workshop participants will earn points and badges as they progress through the workshop's levels and a certificate of completion at the end of the second session.

Playing with the News

LocationSuperior Room
Presenter(s)Lindsay Grace
DescriptionThis presentation outlines observations made about the ways in which the game industry’s practices and perspective can inform other industries. It is provided less as a how-to, and more as a conceptual framing that identifies positive, late emerging characteristics that can be applied to wider contexts. The observations provided in this presentation are based on more than 15 months of work funded by our $350,000 USD research generous supported by John S and James L. Knight Foundation. Our initial goal was to understand the challenges facing the news industry and apply game design as address. Our team of 12 scholars and media professionals developed 3 key framings and 4 game case studies, that we will present in this session.

Keeping the Game a Game: Merging Evaluative Measures with Pedagogical Aims in a Foreign Language Video Game

LocationLake Michigan
Presenter(s)Mary Rodenakrasan and Phill Cameron
DescriptionIn this panel we will discuss the methodological approach implemented to overcome one of the greatest hurdles in creating a 3D video game for foreign language acquisition; successfully marrying the potential instructional use of a 3D digital game-based learning tool with mechanisms that can be of evaluative use to the instructor. In addition, the amalgam must occur without depriving the game of all the features that make videogame play such an immersive and enjoyable experience. Panelists will explore the question of integrating foreign language acquisition into a video game. One answer to this question consists of the creation of a 3D role playing game from the ground up. This blank slate allows instructors and developers to tackle many design questions based around language acquisition video games. For instance, how does one translate immersive game characteristics such as interaction, low stakes risk-taking, rewards for failure, well ordered problems, and situated meanings into qualitative, measurable outcomes that instructors can then use to map areas of student strength as well as weakness? Another question a blank slate allows us to explore is, what statistical tools are needed to measure the success of the game’s learning goals? Finally, panelists will look at the challenges inherent in implementing pedagogical methods such as backward modeling and situated cognitive learning theory into game play; both of which demand the formation of a compelling narrative that is consistent throughout the student-player experience to create a teaching tool that merges pedagogical and evaluative content with extramural gameplay for foreign language instruction on the post-secondary level.

Experience and Consequence in Games

LocationLake Ontario
Paper 1

Ask Why: Creating a Better Player Experience through Environmental Storytelling and Consistency in Escape Room Design
By: Scott Nicholson

The purpose of this paper is to help those designing escape rooms and similar live-action puzzle-based experiences to create more consistent games through applying an “Ask Why” approach. The concept is to embed the challenges in the game along with the game narrative into the environment, using Jenkin’s concept of Narrative Architecture. Designers are encouraged to ensure consistency between their genre, setting, world, and challenges to create a more engaging player experience.

Paper 2

Between the Familiar and the Strange: Exploring the Cognitive-Affective Model of Historical Empathy through Multiple-perspective Videogame Play (Top Paper Award)
By: Liz Owens Boltz

Historical empathy involves an understanding of the context and cultural norms that shaped the actions of historical figures, recognition of the multiplicity of perspectives and lived experiences that exist at any point in time, and an affective engagement with people in the past. Activities that engage students with different historical perspectives have been shown to promote historical empathy more effectively than traditional instruction, but little is known about the effectiveness of videogames in this regard. This case study examined how players demonstrated historical empathy while playing the game Valiant Hearts. Results suggest that certain types of game play may promote particular dimensions of historical empathy more effectively than others, and that some dimensions tend to arise spontaneously while others require prompting.

Paper 3

This Action Will Have Consequences: Interactivity and Player Agency
By: Sarah Stang

This paper examines and challenges the assumption that video games are interactive experiences which allow users to exercise control and agency over their narratives. Interactivity is a debatable concept which has been so over-applied as to be rendered meaningless, and the sense of agency that video game players experience is illusory. While this illusion of agency is problematic, it allows developers and players alike to engage with questions of ethics and morality. This paper uses two case studies to explore different ways in which game developers have attempted to connect player agency with issues of morality. The developers of BioShock attempted to subvert notions of player agency by denying the player any meaningful control within a narrative that centralizes free will. In The Walking Dead, players are forced to make morally-heavy choices in a narrative shaped by branching and converging decision trees. While these games are enjoyable and critically acclaimed, they present the player with false choices and offer only an illusion of agency. In the end, this paper argues that true player agency lies not within pre-scripted video game narratives, but in the player’s interpretation of the game text, in his or her engagement with fan communities, and in the exchanges that occur between fans and developers.

Saturday, October 22, 11:15a-11:30a


Saturday, October 22, 11:30a-12:30p

Games and Learning

LocationMSU Room
Paper 1

Board games as a platform for Collaborative Learning
By: Andrew J Hunsucker

In this paper I will describe the current state of commercially produced board games and how they can be used to study collaborative learning. Board games are analog systems designed to create a gameplay experience. They include specific rules that players must translate in order to play the game. While board games come in a wide variety of types, their rules are constructed very similarly, including a game overview, order of play, and victory conditions. In a study conducted over 6 weeks, I examined what strategies players used to explain the game to others and learn the game for themselves. These sessions revealed many similarities between explanation strategies and common thinking in collaborative learning. I will explore these similarities and how various frameworks and theories can be used to describe player behavior during a board game play session.

Paper 2

Learn to Play: Leveraging the Freemium Model in the Religious Educational Game Kerem B'Yavneh (The Vineyards of Yavneh)
By: Casey O'Donnell, Brian Winn and Reuven Margrett

Kerem B’Yavneh (meaning literally "A Vineyard in Yavneh") is a custom, collaboratively designed game between the Michigan State University Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab and the Frankel Jewish Academy. The goal of the collaboration was to create a game that motivates students to be more engaged in the Academy’s rabbinic curriculum and further make use of the Academy’s one-to-one tablet-based education technology initiative. Kerem B’Yavneh (KeBY) is a casual, social, religious education, homestead-simulation, world-building game. KeBY brings the fun and quirkiness of your favorite farming and city-building games to the richness and vibrancy of Jewish ritual, history, and thought. In the game, the player's goal is to manage their homestead, observe festivals, learn Torah, cook, and experience life and community in ancient Yavneh, the birthplace of modern Judaism. The story within the game unfolds in ancient Yavneh, a small agricultural community that was transformed into the center of Jewish life and learning after the destruction of Jerusalem’s Second Temple by the Roman Empire in 70 CE (also the subject of a game collaboratively developed between the GEL Lab and Frankel Jewish Academy). The player is a budding scholar-farmer leading this transformation. In KeBY, players must adhere to traditional Rabbinic law, culture, and practice while raising a family, growing crops of increasing diversity and goodness, trading in the marketplace, and helping Yavneh flourish. Never before have there been Jewish games both so cutting-edge and so well adapted to use in an educational setting. KeBY makes history come alive, brings context to Rabbinic literature, and provides a deeply interactive vehicle for critical thinking, discussion, and classroom debate. The game, which can be played by each student concurrently as a classroom community, provides in-game rewards for out-of-game work in school. Instead of using a "free" to play, pay-to-play or "freemium" model (F2P), KeBY promotes learn-to-play, collaboration, and friendly competition amongst players. It enables the teacher to create customized content within the game to enhance and reinforce classroom learning and motivate players to truly engage in the material. Leveraging the freemium model, the game provides an opportunity for substantive Rabbinic educational content to be delivered both through the game's underlying mechanics, but also through content found in a "quiz" system that players can use to recharge aspects of the game's systems with "sparks" or what would typically be the abstracted "real" currency in a F2P game. This provides the opportunity for a player to progress without being required to interact with the quiz, but the player's progress in the game is dramatically simplified by engaging with this aspect of the game.

Paper 3

Power up learning: Designing practice into video games
By: Elizabeth Veinott

Identifying the relative effectiveness of different video game features on learning is important for game designers and game researchers. In this paper, I argue that building in practice, something that can occur naturally in a video game, may be one of the most effective game features for learning. While practice is known to be important, very little discussion exists regarding how to implement practice in video games. Practice tends to produce effect sizes two times the size of most other game variables for complex cognitive tasks. Several design ideas for implementing practice based on experience developing serious games and the research evidence are described.

Writing and Reviewing for Publication in a Scientific Journal

LocationHuron Room
Presenter(s)Brock Dubbels
DescriptionThe creation of a scientific article can prepare you for expert consumption of science, and even the expert peer review of science. Participate in this hands-on workshop. Learn the tricks of the trade. Learn the difference between a literature for a class paper as compared to a literature review for publication. Learn the role of the annotated review for the creation of methods, variables, and analysis know as a nomological network. This network would include the theoretical framework for what you are trying to measure, an empirical framework for how you are going to measure it, and specification of the linkages among and between these two frameworks. Join this workshop, play the game, and learn annotated literature for publication and peer reviewed editorial work.

Meaningful Play Game Postmortems

LocationSuperior Room
Presenter(s)Mars Ashton, Nathaniel Abernathy, Steven Sneed and Zack Sneed
DescriptionThis panel will contain the following microtalks:

1) The Journey Behind Axis Descending

Look into the history of a solo project that began as a quick two week game jam and transformed into seven long years of development hell, an academic guide for graduate studies in Narrative delivery, and an inevitable PC release. See initial iterations, scrapped ideas, and the methodologies used and discovered during playtesting and learn what to do and what to avoid from a local independent developer and academic.

2) Forest Defender Postmortem

A look at the development process of creating a game to help teach players about the invasive Asian Longhorned Beetle. This talk focuses on the overall design of the game, but also how the scope was managed to deliver a direct, yet elegant solution to the objectives. With only four months of the development, I’ll show how the most important features were defined and polished. By focusing on the key elements of the game, the player experience could be streamlined to deliver vital information, and unimportant features could be removed or lessened.

3) Killing Zombies with Your GPU

Since 2005, father and son makers Steve and Zack Sneed have been making cool, interactive Halloween games in their laboratory for the trick-or-treaters that visit their house. Each year, the game is a complete ground-up build and gives the team the chance to hack together various fun technologies such as Wii remotes, pneumatics, servos, and computer vision. In this session, the Sneeds will show off such games as “The Monster Machine”, a game that allows kids to build a monster to attack their local school; “Battle on the High Seas”, a game where the kids are drafted to shoot at enemy pirate ships using “real” cannons; and “Showdown at Grimy Gulch”, a game where kids shoot at pneumatic targets in the real world with Wiimote pistols. Along the way, they will cover the design principles they follow when developing their games.

Failure, Death, and Game Over

LocationLake Michigan
Paper 1

The Changing Value of Permadeath in Rogue-likes
By: Justin Tokarski

For classic rogue-likes such as Beneath Apple Manor (The Software Factory, 1987) and Rogue (Toy & Wichman, 1980), permadeath was a defining characteristic. Permadeath refers to the permanent death of the player’s avatar, requiring the player to restart from the beginning of the game with a new character; either an entirely new avatar or the same avatar sans items, abilities, experience points, etc. Beginning with Strange Adventures in Infinite Space (Cheapass Games, 2002) rogue-like games, and the permadeath mechanic associated with them, began to see a resurgence. However, due to changes in the gaming landscape and experimentation with the ‘rogue-like’ genre, permadeath and the value associated with permadeath are very different from its earlier incarnation.

Paper 2

A Meditation on Loss Within Games
By: Justin Tokarski

In the following meditation on and examination of failure I propose a definition of failure within games which I call Loss. This unique form of failure distinguishes it from non-game failure and distinguishes game activities from non-game activities. After defining Loss, I will be distinguishing four major characteristics which make up the Loss Event within games; Loss Conditionals which define the rules of Loss unique to a game, Loss Design which translates these Conditionals to game events, Loss Value which defines the results of Loss in terms of player effort, and Loss Experience which expresses the player reaction to Loss. I hope that defining Loss will provide a shared vocabulary which can be used across the many fields of game studies, reducing confusion between disciplines and encouraging future work examining Loss. I will examine a few possibilities for implementing this definition of Loss in different areas of game studies in the hope of encouraging the use and exploration of this new concept.

Emotion and Therapy

LocationLake Ontario
Paper 1

The Short-Term Emotional Effects of a Brief Play Intervention
By: Doug Maynard, Leah Mancini, Allison Vaughn and Vania Rolon

While there have been many investigations into the impacts of games upon outcomes such as learning or aggression, there is less research upon the impact that a brief period of play can have on an adult player’s emotional states. In the current investigation, we examined changes in positive and negative emotions among college student participants who played either a cooperative or competitive version of the stacking card game Rhino Hero. Results revealed that 15 minutes playing the game resulted in an immediate increase in positive emotional states (e.g., joviality, vitality) as well as a slight decrease in negative emotions. These benefits were seen for both the cooperative and competitive versions of the game, and regardless of whether the participant played with an acquaintance (e.g., friend, roommate) or someone they did know know. Finally, those who reported that their need for play had not been met in the previous week saw the greatest boost in positive emotion from this brief play intervention.

Paper 2

Understanding Learning and Memory: Re-conceptualizing the Dynamic Systems Theory to Design a More Effective Game For Down Syndrome
By: Kelsey Prena

Video games can be important learning tools for children with special needs. This review article will turn to the dynamic systems theory, a theory that has only relatively recently broken its way into mass communication research, to better understand how learning occurs within the brain. Conclusions about dynamic systems are re-conceptualized using the dominant neuroscience theory of learning and memory, and then applied to educating children with Down syndrome. This kind of thinking is novel, but essential to designing learning games to target particular populations. Understanding the neurological changes that occur during video game play can help alleviate some of the neurological deficits that children with Down syndrome face. To design more effective learning games for this population, the message should be interactive, induce feelings of success, frequently reward the player, and provide the player with many modes input.

Paper 3

Living in the Moment: Exploring Aesthetic and Movement Quality Attributes to Create Successful Immersive Gameplay in Therapy
By: Kimberly Hobby and Kristin Carlson

The quality of aesthetic and movement experience can be imperative to a physical therapy patient’s recovery. While the experience of moving is often restricted to the physical actions determined for the patient’s personal needs, the addition of external motivation such as interactive movement games can support the quality of the recovery experience. We ask the question, ‘how can interactive art games support a patient’s recovery process by focusing on quality of movement performance, enjoyment and engagement?’ The recent rise of virtual and augmented reality in gameplay with high resolution graphics and believable characters is now easily available to the consumer. This provides an opportunity to explore how these platforms of gameplay can be used for the betterment of people who are battling illness and injury. In our research of color psychology, movement quality techniques/observances, and implementation of gaming elements like scoring and entertainment, we hope to find trends as to what succeeds or what fails to make an enjoyable and productive therapy game. Our project will provide data and answer the questions: 1) How the quality of visuals affect the behavior of the patient, 2) How to simulate authentic therapy movements and exercises into real life and gaming situations, and 3) How to provide an experience for the patient that drives them to succeed in their therapy.

Saturday, October 22, 12:30p-1:00p


LocationLobby (2nd floor of the MSU Union)
DescriptionLunch is available right outside the Ballroom. Grab your lunch and get seating in the ballroom for the closing keynote.

The lunch is sponsored by the Michigan State University Department of Media & Information.

Saturday, October 22, 1:00p-2:00p

From 8-Bit Invasion to Thunderbird Elation: Indigenous Game Design

LocationMSU Union Ballroom

Elizabeth LaPenseeElizabeth LaPensée , Ph.D. expresses herself through writing, design, and art in games, comics, and animation. She is Anishinaabe, Métis, and Irish, living near the Great Lakes. Most recently, she designed and programmed Invaders (2015), a remix of the arcade classic Space Invaders inspired by art from Steven Paul Judd. She is currently working on Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing game for healing the water.

Her dissertation in Interactive Arts and Technology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia shares experiences from the Indigenous social impact game Survivance (2011), which encourages ongoing healing through storytelling and creating art. Continuing this work, she was the Postdoctoral Associate for the University of Minnesota's Research for Indigenous Community Health Center and a Research Associate in the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. Elizabeth became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media & Information at Michigan State University in Fall 2016. Learn more about Elizabeth.

DescriptionFrom Invaders (an Indigenous take on the classic arcade game Space Invaders that parallels imagined 8-bit alien invasion with the very real process of colonization in Turtle Island) to Thunderbird Strike (a lightning-searing, talon-tearing attack on oil consumption), Elizabeth LaPensée's games offer alternative gameplay from an Indigenous worldview. She will speak to these games and more with an emphasis on their intentions, Indigenously-determined designs, inclusive development process, and community-focused distribution. The trajectory of this work calls for going beyond merely representing culture in games; it must be infused in the code up.

Saturday, October 22, 2:00p-2:30p

Conference Closing and Game Awards

LocationMSU Union Ballroom
DescriptionThe conference organizing committee will close out the conference and present the "Meaningful Play Ninjas", aka the winners of the game competition and top papers.