Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Designing and Rolling Out Serious Games

Presentation: Designing and Rolling Out Games for eLearning Outcomes
Presenter: Ravi Ramakrishman

(This session will give a European / Indian perspective on this topic)

HSBC Ad Campaign at Global Airports

How do you make learning fun?

Fun = more real learning.
- Hook the learners
- Sustain interest (drop-out rates even higher).
- Ensure course completion
- Improve retention

Some fun, some hard work. The important part is the learning agenda.

Serious Games - the basis.
- Historically games have been frowned upon. Nothing has really changed.
- Game seen as not equalling "learning"

"Game" - Activity engaged in for diversion or amusement.
"Serious Game" - voumtary activity pled within a specific time / place according to rules linked to a well-defined learning objective.

Games good for learning in certain contexts
- Learn rules
- Create strategies
- Risk Reward

Learning process playing game
- Understand - Encounger a new activity / screen. Understand rules behind it.
- Solve - Identify a solution - by iteration, if required and Internalize
- Learn - Too difficult to internalize, learning dismissed. Too simple, file away as solved.

Powerful element of learning from games - Failing

Downside - some dissonance in learning agenda
- Challenge may decrease with time - game becomes boring
- Successful completion of game = Winning. May not be graceful in multi-player format.
- Development cost ($$$ and time). Game for JP Morgan - very interactive - took 10x more time than standard tutorial.

Games are the way forward. (Especially as they become more available on mobile phone. See the time I spent at the airport with Scrabble and Poker).

Factors that affect Game-based learning
Case Study - Investor Education, JP Morgan

Did "Jargon Buster: (I hope they provide the slides / presentation material)

Issue - range of audience
Need - ID existing Knowledge level of learner to create adaptive tracks
Approach - Play a game and score points to cross threshholds.

Figured out where the gap was - in this case, what is a mutual fund
Can select sectors and companies to invest in.

Tried to mimic the real world in the game board.

The rationale
- How an Mutual Fund invests in the stock market
- Learner need context, why focus on stock trading
- You are competing against a mutual fund.

Factors that affect learning - what good games contain.

Motivation - good games trigger motivation
- Challenge - throw dice, show changes to variables. Learner makes decisions
- Fantasy - give $25,000
- Curiosity - how does it work? Some guessing involved. (Student makes the important decisions)
- Control - student buys and sells.

Interpersonal factors for motivation
- Competition
- Cooperation
- Recognition

Fidelity - how true to life can you get on a psychological level
- The stocks - real stocks from the market from different segments
- The prices - real prices from the stock market for an entire year
- The news - daily real news clippings that affect the scripts for the entire year.

But - build too much detail, too much distraction. What is the learning agenda you want.

Authenticity - If it doesn't parallel real life, will treat this as a "game" but not fully absorb.
- You want to be as close to real data as possible.
- In this instance, moved back one year. Too close, cognitive dissonance that will hinder learning.
- Graph the data from 25 stocks, 5 industries. The real data anchored. Wound up with 4660 combinations. All tracking to stuff that really happened.

Playfulness - Gotta find a balance.
- Why they brought in the dice for randomization.

Ultimately, used combination of simulation and game to educate.
- Had to keep checking the goal (which was pretty well defined in regards to what the game was supposed to accomplish. He moved too fast for me to write it down)

This particular game was intended to be played multiple times.
- Problem with SCORM compliant version - repeatability
- Now put on thumb-drives. The students then look at it at their leisure.

After evaluating the reaction from the game, realized missing the Investment / Advisor relationship. Thinking role-play - new game.
- (The evaluation piece after roll-out still key. Step for next game or next version to fine-tune the variables)

The investor game - 3000 hours, just programming. Not including design or research.
- User takes 1 hour to play

For standard game
- Can be as low as 600 hours, depending on complexity of the interaction.
- 1/3 Instructional Design - 1/3 Content Creation - 1/3 Programming and packaging.
+ Highly approximate, this is what he starts with time-wise. Depending on what is available for content and the Instructional Design capailities of the client.
+ Will leave 20-30 percent of effort "in-store" to account for post-roll-out evaluation and re-design.

Case Study #2 - On-boarding for new employees (RPG)

Given some limits by client
- 3 hours for end-user max
- Analyzed what works and what doesn't in current learning environment
- 2 pieces - the history of the company and Navigate through the Businesses.

For navigating through the business - similar to "Where in the World is Carmen Santiago"
- Has a story - The business plans for the company stolen. Follow around the world and leave clues. Each clue leads to different company in the group.
- This one not nearly as concerned with Authenticity and Fidelity
- Made them work against the clock.
- This is tracked on LMS. Could see whether they did it multiple times.
- There were issues with connectivity with some groups.

Again - combination of simulation and game

Training problem
- Try to get consistency of knowledge across the new employee base
- Bosses want people on job quickly.
- Extreme diversification. New hires got only their own company perspective
- ILT onboarding boring. Sitting through hours of lectures (didn't tell HR this)

Question
- How do we make learner understand variety of businesses (not a real actionable objective, in my mind)
- Make learner proud to be involved in group

Requirement
- 1000s of learners
- High intensity engagement. Gave some drill-down options.
- Goal of high retention during training and, ideally, during employment.

(He did a few more case studies. Some cool stuff and various models for games - such as short modules, etc. Most important - motivation, fidelity, authenticity, playfulness.)

Warning - retrofittng games from old customer into new customer - didn't work so well. Due to needs and context of customer.

(He made it a point to separate "Game" from "Interactivity" - like the Raptivity interactions or Sealund interactions)

How they work:

When they design - get parameters from customer. Brainstorm (not very structured). Many of his customers have VERY strong ideas about what they want (after an initial draft).
- Senior person engages with senior person of the client to understand big-picture agenda.
- Do research - what does the company and target audience have / know
- Brainstorm
- Sketchy draft to see if on right track. (Does this very quickly and early in the process).
- Get feedback (usually very strong at this point, in my experience. They have to see something first) from client.
- Use mind maps to continue brainstorming once get feedback.
- Repeat the brainstorm / draft / feedback loop.

When doing game - think ground-up. If something you already have works, bonus. But don't try to fit what you have to the problem at hand.

They use Flash as primary development tool.

For case study 1 (JP Morgan Chase game with the complicated database) - $25,000 per hour.

Generally - for $10,000 ground-up, get something pretty nice. (The prices are for the presenter's company. Interesting there is some of the "competition" in there asking questions - I guess looking for points of comparison with their own business).

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This was a much more informative session than I expected from the description. I'll admit to being a little intimidated by the complexity of his projects.

Always interesting to see the gap between where I am and where I want to be. Had a preliminary conversation with Mark and Tony during the break on this. I'm thinking in terms of ALL technologies (my blogging infrastructure, communications), not just games.

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