Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Week 4: Children's Games for Education, Hope & Celebration

Today's Agenda
  • 9:00am: PLAY PORTAL OR PORTAL 2 (Via the "Steam" platform (application on your desktop/netbook). Download Steam if not already on computer: http://store.steampowered.com/about/) (Use username & password Ivan sent you for access to Portal and various other games).
  • 10:00am: Discussion:
    • 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.
    • 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?
  • 11:00am: Group work.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 3: Digital Games and Storytelling

Today's 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??

Announcement: Game change for next week's workshop - now playing Portal and/or Portal 2 via your class Steam accounts (see email from Ivan for log in name & password).

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Semaphore Game Research: Upcoming Events

There are a couple of upcoming events at the Semaphore Lab that may be of interest to this class:

Semaphore Game Demos Series
Wednesday, January 16 from 10:00am - 12:00pm  
Semaphore Room 1150, main floor Robarts Library (130 St.George Street)
To kick off the New Year, the Semaphore Lab will be hosting two game demos related to inclusive play. Both of these demonstrations will focus on games designed for players with visual impairments, created by students within Engineering Science here at U of T. Alexander Tough and Daniel Zingaro will demo their visual impairment game.

Games in Film - "Tetris: From Russia With Love" 
Tuesday January 22, 5:00pm - 7:00pm Media Commons (Robarts Library, 3rd floor) 
University of Toronto, 130 St. George St. 
Games in Film nights discuss issues surrounding games and gaming more broadly as they are represented in film. For this event we will watch and then have a panel discussion on the film Tetris: From Russia with Love. The film is a BBC documentary that explores the unique appeal and design of the game Tetris, as well as the controversial copyright issues surrounding its development and production in the 1980s. Our panelists for this event are: Susan Abramovitch, LLB, Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law at Gowlings Brett Caraway, PhD, Institute of Culture, Communication and Information Technology, UTM Matt Wells, PhD (Student) Faculty of Information and Semaphore Lab, UofT Register for this event here.

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).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reality is Broken!

Here's the person, Jane McGonigal, and book, Reality is Broken, I couldn't remember the names of in class yesterday. Well worth checking out!