My name is Giada Marinensi and I’mresearcher at CATTID, which is the research center for Information and Communication Technology of Sapienza University of Rome. I coordinates the research team of LABeL, the Laboratory of CATTID specialized in e-learning methods and technologies, whose scientific director is professor Valerio Eletti. Our fields of scientific interests are e-learning, and new technologies and methods in teaching/learning process, such as social learning, mobile learning and digital game based learning, with special focus on simulations and serious games. In fact, we have studied Serious Games for several years, and in 2009 wehavealsoheldatLABeL a series of seminarsaimed to the systematization of knowledge and practice on simulations, serious games and business games, by analyzing and comparingmanynational and internationalexperiences.The result of ourstudyis a proposal of taxonomy of different kind of Serious Games, which I’ll describe to you now.
To better understand and categorize Serious Games, we have considered that the concept of game could be a basilar element of definition to give a systematic order to the numerous typologies of Serious Games. There are, in fact, many researches that support the connection between gaming and learning: Jean Piaget (1951), Jerome Bruner (1996), John Dewey (1938), Lev Vygotsky (1978), for instance, have demonstrated how we can learn first of all thanks to the experience and how the game is a particular form of experience.
The development of those theories has allowed, in recent days, the birth of the learning by doing paradigm, in which simulations are an important support to make experience. With simulations we have the possibility to create and repeat any kind of experiences, also dangerous ones, so we can widen the potentiality of experience in learning field. But is there a structured relationship between simulations and games?Answering these questions is not easy because of the vastness of the subject and the wide and variegated studies already carried out.So I will begin defining the concepts of simulation and game and, after identifying the respective domains, I will explainhow these two sets, suitably intersected, give rise to a third set, that of serious game.
The confusion of terms and definitions and the lack of anaccepted vocabulary make the semantic definition of the term simulation rather difficult. The main feature of a simulation is, in any case, the fact that it allows to reproduce reality in a simplified way, so that we can better understand why things happen and how.The studies carried out by our research group have made it possible to define two big families – rather distinct – of simulations: those that we will call “Lab Sim” and those that we will call “Tale Sim”.
A LabSim is a technological device for the manipulation of a model. It is a virtual lab where the user canobserve, explore and analyze a process in order to gain a profound knowledge of it’s internal mechanisms. The processes on exam develop by themselves (according to physical laws or evolutionary paths), on the basis of parameters modified by the user. The slide shows a screen of one of netlogo library’s simulations. Once the simulation ha started, the user can modify some of the parameters through the control panel on the left. The effects due to these modifications are shown both on the right, in the animation, and down on the left, through the chart.
TaleSims are learning environments based on personalized simulations; In this kind of simulations the user is the actor (or one of the actors) of the story and/or of the environment to explore and there is an explicit formative path. Learning can take place or by surfing personally inside the story and/or virtual environment (more or less immersive), or by interacting on the web with other people or avatars present in the environment. In this sense, the interface has the task to represent the described situations, allowing the user to have a personal involvement too. To better understand this involvement, it is necessary for us to introduce the concept of Game.
Johan Huizinga in his famous “Homo Ludens” of 1938, was the first to define the concept of game in a systematic way, and to show its importance in the progress of humane society.In his opinion, every game is an action full of signification; every game means something and its applications could answer to a lot of needs.Games in fact are often used to learn an action having a biological utility: an example is represented by prehistoric kids playing hunting to learn the necessary skills to hunt once adults.
To give a complete definition of game we must also talk about Roger Caillois and is “Les jeux et les hommes” written in 1958. He states that there are four basic type of games: Agon, Alea, Mimicry and Ilinx.An Agon game is a game with rules or competition (such as chess).An Alea game in purely based on chance (such as slot machine).A Mimicry game is based on the imitation of reality (such as war game) and the player consciously plays a role.An Ilinx game temporarily destroys the stability of perception and produces a sense of euphoria (such as ridind roller costers).Two of the basic types of play studied by Caillois have the same features as simulation: they are Agon and Mimicry.
The intersection between games of Agon and Mimicry provides three different areas: the first one (on the left), contains games with rules (such as card games), the second one (on the right) contains imitation games (for instance playing with dolls), and the third area contains, because of the intersection, all those games having both characteristics (such as role playing games). The next step is to relate this area and the simulations set; in this way we can investigate in a specific way the wide field of Serious Games.
First of all, we intersect the games area, just examined, with the set of simulations (LabSims and TaleSims) obtaining the chart represented in this slide. In the chart we notice the highlighted zone that represents the shared area between the simulations set and the games one. The intersection doesn’t enclose LabSims, because in this kind of simulation we can find any typical feature of the game. On the contrary TaleSims are included in the intersection, because they show both game and simulation characteristics. For this reason, TaleSims are strictly involved when we analyze Serious Games. At this point it’s possible to give a definition of Serious Games.
We can define Serious Games as interactive experiences with the same characteristics and structure of a game. They could have different aims, like business training, educational or social campaigns, and promotional activities. Moreover, they reproduce real situations in which using knowledge and acting with strategy could help reach a final goal.
In this slide we can see a graphic representation of the intersection between the simulations set and the two areas that define the games set. The highlighted zone represents the Serious Games set, which includes some kind of simulation with specific features. This intersection doesn’t contain the kind of simulations which don't have the same characteristics of games (e.g. LabSims).At this point, for a better understanding, we can analyze the four sub-areas of Serious Games set.
This area contains Serious Games in which Agon rules join Mimicry fiction, without obligatory simulating situations borrowed from reality. An example of these kinds of games are role playing games. In fact in Role Playing Game a fantasy world is completely ruled, and every player could pretend to be a certain character with particular abilities and goals to reach. The fiction we are referring to is the one of Mimicry, and there is no typical aspect of simulations, because the latter are only models (and not representations) of the real world.
This area includes Serious Games in which TaleSims are characterized by a strong normative aspect, without any characteristic of Mimicry. An example of these kinds of games are business games, in which the simulation is like a model of reality (in this specific case the corporate environment) and it is joined to the competitive and normative aspects of the game itself.
This set represents Serious Games copying two aspects of reality: simulating modality and imitation of Mimicry. Moreover they follow Agon rules. An example of this is a flight simulator. In fact, these represent a model of reality and users know the interface is the airplane and they have to follow specific rules.this set represents Serious Games copying two aspects of reality: simulating modality and imitation of Mimicry. Moreover they follow Agon rules. An example of this is a flight simulator. In fact, these represent a model of reality and users know the interface is the airplane and they have to follow specific rules.
This area contains Serious Games simulating reality in modality and representation, like serious games aiming to develop and improve Soft Skills.
As an example of thiskind of serious game I can describeyou a projectthatwe are nowdevelopingatCattid: the Intouchproject. Intouchis a 2 years project, founded by the European Community, (Life long learning program) that aims to enablemanagers of small and medium enterprises to improve their non-routine skillsby using serious games on their mobile devices. Each Serious Game will reproduce real situations in which users make a series of decisions (through different multiple choices decision points) to progress through a story that develops in different ways, according to the choices of each user. At the end of the story users get an after action review (textual feedback and score).You can find more information about Intouch on the project website.
We can obtain a detailed classification of each kind of Serious Game, detecting five distinctive areas. Fruition modeUserGraphical User Interface (GUI)StructureEngineEach area presents two status as you can see on the slide.- Fruition mode: online / offline- User: single user / multi-user- Graphical User Interface (GUI): 2D / 3D- Structure: playful / not playful - Engine: with / without engine
The subset Agon^Mimicryhas both online and offline fruition. Fruition is single user if offline and mostly multiusers if online. The interface is often 3D, with a strong presence of play structure. We have also strong presence of engines with prevalence of mathematic descriptors.In this subset we find role playing game.
The subset Agon^Simulations has mostly online multiuser fruition with a 2D interface. The presence of a play structure is average. The engines typical of this subset are those based on branches/charts and system dynamics (business games are representative of this subset).
The subset Agon^Simulations^Mimicryhas mainly offline fruition. However, in this case fruition is single user and the interface is 3D, with a strong presence of play structure. We have also strong presence of engines with prevalence of mathematic descriptors (e.g. flight simulator)
The subset Simulations^Mimicry is the one with the most blurred boundaries between categories. Indeed, the fruition, the type of user and the interface are equally declined in both presented ways.In this subset we find products quite playful, with presence of engine often based on branches/charts, but now and then based also on Bayesian networks and mathematic descriptors (in this subset we can find simulations for soft skill training but also environments such as Second Life).
Our proposal of taxonomy could be considered as a starting point to define a shared background aiming to identify what Serious Games are, and to research their best application context.At the present time, in spite of all the studies and experiences that have already been done, even at design level, we don’t have an accepted definition nor a widely shared vision able to allow the clear and unequivocal definition of Serious Games and their distinct features compared to other learning solutions.The indistinct use of the terms Serious Game and simulation could generate further confusion and also lead to offer learning solutions not always proper to real needs and to application contexts.We hope that our taxonomy could represent a first step toward a more precise Serious Games’ classification, in order to create a widely shared starting point for further research in this field.
Keynote g marinensi_17-11
Serious Games: a proposal of taxonomy based onthe relationship between game and simulationValerio Eletti, Stefania Barca, Brunella Botte,Giada Marinensi, Claudia Matera, Enrico RuozziGACET’11 – Rome, 17 November, 2011
Introduction e-Learning Laboratory of CATTID dedicated to: • social learning • mobile learning • digital game based learning, with special focus on simulations and serious games In 2009 was held at Label a series of seminars aimed to the systematization of knowledge and practice on simulations, serious games and business games, by analyzing and comparing many national and international experiences.2
The relationship between game and learning Game We learn first of all thanks to the experience and the game is a particular form of experience Learning3 3
Is there a relationship between game and simulation? Game Is there a structured relationship between simulations and games? Simulation4 4
The definition of simulation Simulations Allow to reproduce reality in a simplified way, so that we can better understand why things happen and how The studies carried out by our research group have made it possible to define two big families of simulations: LabSim TaleSim5
The definition of simulation LabSim A LabSim is a virtual lab where the user can observe, explore and analyze a process in order to gain a profound knowledge of it’s internal mechanisms NETLOGO http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/models/ WolfSheepPredation6
The definition of simulation TaleSim In a TaleSim the user is the actor (or one of the actors) of the story and/or of the environment to explore and there is an explicit formative path VIRTUAL LEADER http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy3TLyj- HCY&feature=player_embedded#!7
The definition of game (1/2) Every game is an action full of signification; every game Johan Huizinga, “Homo means something and its Ludens”, 1938 applications could answer to a lot of needs8
The definition of game (2/2) Four basic type of game: • Agon (rules) Roger Caillois, “Les jeux • Alea (chance) et les hommes”, 1958 • Mimicry (imitation) • Ilinx (vertigo)9
The relationship between game and simulation (1/2) Intersection between Agon and Mimicry Games with Imitation rules games Games with both characteristics10
The relationship between game and simulation (2/2) TaleSim LabSim11
The definition of Serious Game (1/2) Serious Games Interactive experiences with the same characteristics and structure of a game. They could have different aims, like corporate training, educational or social campaigns, and promotional activities. They reproduce real situations in which using knowledge and acting with strategy could help reaching a final goal.12
The definition of Serious Game (2/2) Serious Games area13
A proposal of Taxonomy Intersection between Agon and Mimicry Role Playing Game14
A proposal of Taxonomy Intersection between Agon and Simulations Business Game15
A proposal of Taxonomy Intersection of Agon, Simulations and Mimicry Simulators16
A proposal of Taxonomy Intersection between Simulations and Mimicry Serious Game to improve Soft Skills17
A proposal of Taxonomy Intersection between Simulations and Mimicry www.intouch-project.eu Initial situation Decision Points Feedback Each games forseen several decision points and different feedbacks18
A proposal of Taxonomy Detailed classification of Serious Games Engine: with / Fruition mode: without engine online / offline Seriuos Game Structure: User: single user / playful / not playful multi-user Graphical User Interface (GUI): 2D / 3D19
A proposal of Taxonomy Detailed classification of Serious Games Fruition mode: online / offline User: single user / multi-user Graphical User Interface (GUI): more often 3D Structure: playful Role Playing Game Engine: with20
A proposal of Taxonomy Detailed classification of Serious Games Fruition mode: mostly online User: mostly multi-user Graphical User Interface (GUI): 2D Structure: playful / not playful Engine: with Business Game21
A proposal of Taxonomy Detailed classification of Serious Games Fruition mode: mainly offline User: mainly single user Graphical User Interface (GUI): 3D Structure: playful Engine: with Simulators22
A proposal of Taxonomy Detailed classification of Serious Games Fruition mode: online / offline User: single user / multi-user Graphical User Interface (GUI): 2D / 3D Structure: playful Serious Game to improve Soft Skills Engine: with23
Conclusion • This taxonomy could be considered as a starting point to define a shared background aiming to identify what Serious Games are, and to research their best application context • We hope that this taxonomy could represent a first step toward a more precise Serious Games’ classification, in order to create a widely shared starting point for further research in this field24
MORE INFORMATION www.cattid.uniroma1.it www.label-journal.it firstname.lastname@example.org
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