Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Today's Agenda

  • 9:00am: PLAY SPORE!!!
  • 10:00am: Presentation by Chris Young on games & learning in the library. Q&A + Discussion of the role of educational (formal/informal) games in the library - how important (or unimportant) is this idea in building collections? For your playlists? In your game designs? Why?
  • What is "educational" - who defines it? how is it tracked/regulated?
  • Debrief on the gameplay experience. Discussion of the game in relation to this week's readings, discussion of the concepts of "educational" games and "games as learning engines" (James Paul Gee's arguments about informal learning vs. "edugames"), etc.
  • 11:00am: Group work.

Friday, March 23, 2012

James Paul Gee on Learning with Video Games

In follow up to the Gee article you will be reading in preparation for next week's class, you might want to check out this short talk by Gee on learning with videogames, where he unpacks some of his terms and explains the importance of "affinity spaces".
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Some Lessons in Intuitive Level Design

Hello classmates!

In light of the discussion during our week 2 class about designing games such that young kids will be able to learn them (short tutorials, limited text, etc.) reminded me of this great blogpost I read a while back. Sara encouraged me to write a post about it on the class blog, so here it is.

To all of you who played Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, you may recall that, while that game had virtually no text in it, I don't think any of us had any difficulty figuring out how to play. On his blog "Significant Bits", Radek Koncewicz wrote a smashing in-depth analysis of the level designs for World 1 of Super Mario Bros. 3, detailing how each level cleverly encourages the player to discover the mechanics of the game.

It is a very interesting and relevant read for this class, and can be found here: http://www.significant-bits.com/super-mario-bros-3-level-design-lessons.

I know it looks long but a lot of it is screenshots. At the bottom of the post he links to parts 2 and 3 of his discussion, in which he discusses cleverly designed levels in Worlds 2-8, as well as design choices for the level selection "hubs."

Happy designing, everyone.

Week 3 Agenda:


9-10: Playtime:
- This week's workshop starts with a session of Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor (Hint: PLAY ON JR DETECTIVE SETTING - it's way easier). For anyone who doesn't have a terminal, run up and get yourself a notebook - they should already have the game on them.

10-11: Discussion:
- Debrief on gameplay. Thoughts about linkages to readings and this week's themes (narrative)
- What's the linkage between narrative and gender (girl games, Storytelling Alice) - or is there one?
- Chat about the more theoretical aspects of this week's readings (Bizzocchi)

Q: What role will narrative play in your design-a-game projects? In your playlists??

11-12: Work on Projects:
Design-a-game - finish playing through the tutorials, get started on your game/level!!!
Playlist - should have a theme established by now. Start narrowing down your choices

Monday, March 19, 2012

Video Games @ The Museum

Via Gawker, a short but relevant article on a new digital games exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum called "The Art of Video Games". Here's an excerpt:
The exhibit takes museum visitors on a journey, from the humble beginnings of Space Invaders and Combat to games like 2010's Heavy Rain, "which explores the boundaries of parental love." (I've had serious enough emotional breakdowns playing Pac-Man, thanks.) Patrons can interact with the games on giant screens, making the Smithsonian's exhibit an arcade with more cultural credibility. And fewer quarters.
There are, of course, lots of digital game museum exhibits out there (contrary to what this article implies), including an entire wing of the Strong Museum of Play and an International Centre for the History of Electronic Games. But the Smithsonian brand and reputation carries a lot of weight, and this particular exhibit is focused on the "art" of video games, which is a pretty rare thing to find in a mainstream venue. Field trip to Washington DC, anyone??

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

1006: Winter 2012: Week2

Agenda for Week2 Workshop

1. 9am-10am: Play "World of Goo"!!

2. 10am-11am: Group Discussion
  • Bryant article - thoughts on designing for particular users - special needs and vulnerabilities - troubling notions of "gamers" and/or "children" and/or "expertise"
  • Thoughts on the ESRB rating system - particularly the category "E for Everyone" (what does this mean, what are the underlying politics, etc.).
  • Meeting the groups: what are your initial ideas for playlist topics & design tools
3. 11am-12pm: Work on Projects

- Bryant et al.'s designing for preschoolers article (usability, design strategies, & later on...assessment)
- ESRB Rating Systems: thoughts on process, uses, problems, oversights, etc.

Possible Discussion points: 

  • Thoughts on designing "for kids" - determining whether something is "age appropriate" - and all the many, many problems that arise out of these processes.
  • Difference in the "process" each team goes through (Bryant et al. user-centered design, informed by theory, iterative process involving kids, parents) (ESRB coding videos of the games for certain types of content - yet "E" comes to mean so much more)
  • From preschoolers to elementary-age....big developmental changes. How would the challenges Bryant describes change over time - how to accommodate for this - how to anticipate without training in child development theory, child education, usability, etc.
  • Assessing and selecting - issues these articles might raise
  • Usability and user-centered processes - how can these concepts be incorporated into collection development OR research OR tech assessment

- World of Goo 
(As indicated on the syllabus, also relevant to this week's themes/readings are the Lego Star Wars games - a copy is available for short term loan via course reserves at the Inforum).