G@S Monkey Tales and Project Results


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Bieke Zaman
iMinds - CUO - KU Leuven

Published in: Education
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  • I’m not a cook, but I like delicious foodI’m not a game designer, but I like to play games.And in both scenarios I’m intrigued to understand the secret recipe for success. Let me first focus how we get success in the kitchen In doing so, we need first of all the best chefsSecondly, these chefs have to make a selection in the right ingredients and mix these in the best way Thirdly, the proof of the pudding is in the eating by the people who dine out in a restaurant
  • And what is the recipe for creating a good educational games? In order to answer this, we need to understand the complex interplay between firstly the perspective of the creators, secondly that of the players and thirdly, that of the game itselfCreators have intentionsAnd they translate these intentions in a particular gamePlayers perceive the game characteristics, interact with It in a particular context, and experience both ‘serious’ elements and fun.
  • My name is Bieke Zaman, and I will clarify the point that I’m making by means of our lessons learned from Monkey Tales and the results from the G@S project in more generally
  • Les us first focus on the side of the creators.In educational games, the are two creator profiles necessary: namely the game designer + the domain expert.///geennamennoemen van de companies
  • In the G@S project, we performed several brainstorm sessions with game developers, game research experts and domain experts in order to obtain new game concepts that would combine education and play. What we learned from these brainstorm sessions is that in order to trigger the creativity in creating new mini-game concepts, it helps to think of an overall game story first. This story can then function as an overall game shell in which the mini-games will fit. However, this game story may also impede finding more generalist mini-game concepts; the latter was deemed important for economic reasons, to limit the development resources in translating minigame concepts to a variety of game genres and to applies these to various educational domains.Secondly, it is not because the adolescent creators have the best intentions to create a fun educational game, that it will be perceived as such by the actual players.
  • Secondly, it is not because the adolescent creators have the best intentions to create a fun educational game, that it will be perceived as such by the actual players. That is why we tested the mini-game prototypes that resulted from the brainstorm sessions with the game designers. This allowed us to improve these games in terms of usability and to add motivational elements such as game character personalization options.
  • That is why we tested the mini-game prototypes that resulted from the brainstorm sessions with the game designers. This allowed us to improve these games in terms of usability and to add motivational elements such as game character personalization options.
  • As for the analysis of the Monkey Tales game, we followed children during their initial game experiences with Monkey Tales at home by means of a 2-week diary method.Focussing on the children as a game player, we learned that three types of players are emerging. There are the ‘explorers’, who are eager to explore the 3D world and complete the puzzles in there. There are also the ‘active gamers’, who like to launch missiles or escape from the mummies. Finally, there was a prominent category of ‘collectors’ as well, who like to collect objects in the game, e.g. to personalize their avatar. // TO DO HERE:“VERZAMERLAAR”
  • In high tolerance:COMPLY:users that comply with the model user behavior= make the game exercises that they are supposed to do, follow the game structure without any problemsIn low tolerance: RESIST: e.g. clear signs: guessing, estimating, math-avoidanceREJECT:there were also users who rejected the game in its entirety when they noticed that they wanted to reply the 3D levels, but couldn't, they stopped playing because of this right structure and the nonreplayability of the non-educational levels// only math games can be replayed, not the 3D levels. --> you cannot think of a fixed balance of the fun/serious balance!!!is not a fixed design characteristicusers react to the game in different ways, there is a variations in tolerance to the educational content.
  • From interviewing the parents, we learned that the replayability of the games makes it worth the monetary investment and that the educational part of the game motivated parents to let their children play more of these games than they were allowed to play regular games. From consulting teachers in the design process, we learned that we have to invest time in getting them acquainted with the possibilities of digital media and secondly, that we have to design games that fit in the time constraints of class setting (and thus fit within the approach of instructional practices.
  • Story layer: narrative about the mission that needs to be completed, actors, no interactivity3D game, logic puzzles, set in a medieval castle, ancient Egypt,... -> move crates, mirrors, etc. to navigate through the level-> no mathArcade game embedded within each level: game with math embedded in it, e.g. Shooting the right answers,...Liking this with the insights from the user studies, our lessons learned stipulates that a more open and flexible design could be better so that players are able to choose how much fun versus seriousness they want in which situations-- game has a ‘minimun’ of one math arcade game per level, you can practice MORE if you want, you cannot skip arcade games in the overall game-in the game, the relation between the fun and the math is already somewhat flexible: you can play a minimum, but outside the ‘main game’, you can play more if you want. -- children developed strategies to do the math as effortlessly as possible: shooting whatever they come across, hoping to have shot enough right answers to win the game, guessing and estimating,... -> children develop their own workarounds to play less math than implied in the game-- inability to replay individual (‘fun’) levels diminished the appeal of the game: various kids mentioned they wanted to replay individual levels, once they had finished the entire game-> they did not play arcade games separately-> the game was finished-> if they had had the opportunity to play the individual fun levels again, the game would keep its appeal for a longer time, and children would practice more in the process. WHILE THE GAME IMPLIES A CERTAIN FUN-SERIOUS BALANCE, CHILDREN DO FIND WAYS AROUND THAT BALANCEA LESS STRICT BALANCE WOULD PROBABLY INCREASE THE APPEAL OF THE GAMENote that the math exercises take the form of arcade mini-games that are only embedded at the lowest level in the game. They have a very rich ‘shell’ around it, including not only the story layer in which the quests are explained but also the 3D world that comprises of logic puzzles.
  • My closing thought here is that the there is no one-size fits it all formula for the design of educational games. I compared it with a good dish: there are several recipes to create a delicious food. It is all about knowing which ingredients you can combine, and getting a cookbook of successful mixes. In our recipe, we followed a multi-stakeholder involvement and advocated for a flexible balance in fun and serious in the game. From this perspective, I all invite you to share my recipe but also to share yours . Because it is only by bringing together various recipes that we can arrive at a cookbook on the success factors for creating good educational games
  • G@S Monkey Tales and Project Results

    3. 3. CREATORS PLAYERS GAME Game designers Domain expert
    4. 4. CREATORS PLAYERS GAME Children
    5. 5. van zijn moe iswerk hebben eerst wel zijn hu gemaakt + De mummies ontwijken, rakette n afschieten, ov er giftig water lopen onk M ey tal es De uitleg die soms het halve scherm bedekte, waard oor mannetje even ik mijn niet kon zien. Ik wist all es al en vond dit vervelend. De tussenovergeslagen nieuwste Speelt graag de s zoals Skyrim en game 3, omdat Assassin’s Creed ete game heeft. Zijn favori rio Kart aller tijden is Ma Gm a es CHILD AS PLAYER liev l ij k e n P r soo 10j aar S nde a r -act ivega mr e en, en, rakettenafschiet e um ies D m m ontwijk en! over gif tigwater l op
    6. 6. High tolerance Play extra math games Low tolerance ‘hack’ the math games CHILD AS LEARNER
    7. 7. CREATORS PLAYERS GAME Children Parents Teachers
    8. 8. CREATORS PLAYERS GAME 3D World Story layer Arcade
    9. 9. Story Layer 3D World Explaining the quest At start of every X levels Logic puzzles Individual level Fun Fun Arcade Game With math exercises Embedded in level Fun + Serious
    10. 10. Project-video: https://www.youtu be.com/watch?v= RXSlm29rMzk Slideshare: http://www.slidesh are.net/biekezama n @biekezaman CUO | Social Spaces, iMinds – KU Leuven