Wednesday, June 02, 2010

#IEL2010 Serious by Design

#IeL2010: Serious by Design

Presenter: Dr. Mike Freeman

Intro
- Serious games promising for training
- Purposeful design is critical
- 1 barrier – lack of shared vocabulary

Build on what we already know.

Working definition of a serious game
- Complex systems of purposefully designed learning experiences
- Clearly defined learning objectives
- assigned problem
- rewards/ penalties for performance

Play is not enough for purposeful learning

Big issues – what is the common lexicon, “be inclusive”, focus on design, not technology

1) Narrative: Story with chronological implication
+ May not necessarily be TOLD chronologically
+ Drives purposeful experiences
+ Provides meaning
+ Shows cause and effect of actions
+ Heightens commitment / buy-in
+ Sub-components – context, character, place, drama

Context – what is my social and organizational relationship of the learner, learning experiences, game
- Hierarchy if orgs and social groups. Where fits
- Who are superiors / peers/ subordinates / adversaries
- Mission-essential training has built in context

Character – player is central actor
- Who characters are and their roles
- Distinct, well-defined personalities. Needs provide basis for conflict and social learning
- Stereotypes quickly est. social and operational structure, but the stereotypes MUST be familiar

Place – where am I?
- Temporary world where player acts outside ordinary world
- Where (geographically) and when (temporally)
- Scenes – each with own sense of place
- Create expectation of action
- Archetypical buildings, terrain, sounds
- Explain differences from real world. Can be limitation in simulation. Explanation for particular actions etc.

Drama – engage attention and creating suspense
- Solve a mystery to complete story (Hermeneutic Code)
- Anticipate results of actions (Proairetic Code)
- 3 acts – setup, confrontation, resolution
- Backstory, cut scenes, flashbacks, foreshadowing, cliffhangers, red herrings.
+ May not reveal backstory all at same time, but it is there
+ Best game leverage all of these

2) Motivation: Compels action
- Goals – something to accomplish
+ May be actual learning action or
+ Situation to take learning action
- Why is it important I do things THIS way?

- Conflict – disruption to plans / overcoming obstacles / problems (supply, mech breakdown)
+ Makes it interesting
+ Adversaries can be person, natural environment
-- Believable personas and motivations

3) Rules: What is possible/forbidden. What conditions must be met to achieve goals
- Physics
- Interface
- Likeness / Difference to real world
- How fast characters can go, effects of weapons / resources, how much learners can actually see
- Requirements for the underlying simulation that provides the game world environment.

- Rules for winning and losing
+ What specific things must be achieved
+ Contingencies met
+ Conditions
+ Penalties
+ Rewards

Forms the basis for determining outcomes and performing assessments of game outcomes.

4) Dynamics: Adapt to capabilities of learner
- Balance of challenge and pace
+ Important to keep the learner moving forward
+ Learners will try to solve interesting problems if the solution seems achievable
+ Scaffolding elements such as mentors or job aids.
-- Scaffolds can be removed later
+ Combine simpler tasks into more complex
-- Use the simpler tasks you just learned. Build on each others.

5) Mechanics: Controls, tools and methods to interact with game world
- Simpler the mechanics, the better
- The more authentic, the more efficient for learning
- Internal – moving a virtual hand to a switch or dragging an object from a table
- External – mouse clicks, push joystick forward to move, etc.

6) Action! Learner must do, not watch
- Most fundamental component
- No action by player = no game. (Movie…)
- Most difficult actions should focus on the learning objectives
- More meaningful action = better
- More action unrelated to learning objective = worse
+ You are taking away valuable time!!!!!
+ Potential for distraction
- Each action impacts story and future actions
+ The choices you make have to matter

Structure: Steady state, precipitating event, intervention / action, result.
- Jerome Bruner – narrative and learning
- Canonical Steady state – the context and relevance to set the stage for the learning process. (Act 1a – the setup)
- Conflict – The cure and stimulus for the learner to perform the actions required (Act 1 – precipitating event)
- Action to restore steady state – required from learner to master learning objective (Act 2 - Restoration)
- Return to steady state – Outcomes of the learner taking the learning objective focused action (Act 3 – Coda/End)

Every game level has this in here. Could be multiple times.
Quests in WoW set up this way.

7) Assessment: Meet learning objectives, enable dynamics, propel narrative.
- Assessment and feedback critical
- Inside the game world – intelligent agents or satisfaction of conditions
- Outside – human observer
- Immediate (player character killed, friendly unit attacked)
- Delayed and summative (mission debrief)
- Best – provide both immediate and delayed feedback
+ Propel the story
+ Provide adjustment of game dynamics
+ Follow feedback in real world.
Almost any game you play has this structure.
Only specific thing is the focus on the learning objective.
- The learning objective will inform everything in the design
+ The goals
+ The environment

Conclusion
- One possible solution (not sure I reflected this conversation accurately – someone please correct me!)
+ Most difficult problems unstructured problems.
+ Not quite there yet for some serious game. Need ability to measure. Hard to do with more than one solution, more than one “ideal”.

- Focused on design, not technology

- Shared concepts and lexicon for the entities, controls and actions in the game

- Useful for communicating among stakeholders to establish what’s important and why

- Useful for evaluating the design and appropriateness of existing games for learning purposes.

Next: How to give people the ability to expand and explore. Difficult to do the assessment if you can’t describe it.

There may be certain situations where serious game (by this model) may not be the entire solution.
- Collaboration
- Very complicated scenarios
- The task has to be related to what you are training and wishing to measure.

Good cases of Serious Games
- Battle simulations – story drives it along
- Task trainers – operate equipment
- Flash-based – can be small (will get examples)

Some games so boring – they would rather look at flash cards.
- remember: games not a cure all.
- Relevance. The task needs to be relevant to your life.
- Authenticity important

Games are not a solution to everything.
- Teaching rote stuff.

Reflection by learner – not just about assessment.
- One thing to play. Another thing to be in field
- Delayed and summative assessment.
+ How do you bridge the gap between game and application?
+ Well – how do you do it now?

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