Super Microbe World: Using Games to Teach Science and Hygiene
Super Microbe World Teaching Hygiene and Science Through GamesDavid FarrellGameologistGlasgow Caledonian Universitydavid.email@example.com@unthank
Games in Education• Games used as motivator (especially boys) • extrinsic motivator “ﬁnish your work and you can play” • intrinsic motivator • “since they like play, we’ll put learning in their games!!”
Problem?• These products are not particularly successful as games or / education
Shavian Reversal + Text =Beauty Brains Beauty & Brains?
Raph Koster • Game Designer • Ultima Online • Everquest • Star Wars Galaxies • Playdom • Author • Theory of Fun for Game Design
Wil Wright • Game Designer • sims • sim city • spore
Will wright @ GDC2010 • Said that designing games is like building a model of the universe. Playing a game is like testing a world model and learning from how it behaves. • like a child playing with water or shapes.
• Neither Raph Koster or Wil Wright are educational game developers - but they have noticed the potential of games to teach through modelling some aspect of the world.
Kurt Squire• Indeed, this kind of learning seems to be something that games do particularly well• Kurt Squire’s work with Civilization 3 - just by playing scenarios in this commercial game, students gained a deep, meaningful understanding of history • not as a series of facts - but as patterns, relationships - as a model of how history works
David W Shaffer• Similar idea - game models physics. (Svarovski & Shaffer, 2006)• By playing with it, students get a really deep understanding of physics.
• Instead of separating the game from the learning, it seems that one of the best ways to teach through play is to have the game model the learning outcomes.• By playing with a simulation, students can attain a deep learning experience.
GM Choccoli• If games teach what games model, then we can design game mechanics that model learning outcomes• by doing that, we can create ‘genetically modiﬁed broccoli’ • Broccolate? Choccoli?
• This puts an emphasis on the ‘game’ part of educational game design.• Educational game designers need to understand the game development process.
e-Bug• European Commission project to improve microbial education• Two audiences. • 9-12 year olds • 13-15 year olds• Games to be suitable for play in class or at home.
Audience Research• Mix of desk and primary research • Amazon for cartoon sales • Focus groups with Scottish children for further information• Looking for kinds of games that they enjoy that I could see being adapted for e-Bug
Genres (13-15yrs)• Older children ALL liked shooters and sports games (problem!)• There wasn’t much consensus beyond that.• I brought in some games for them to play and give feedback. They were receptive to story based games like Monkey Island and Phoenix Wright.
Genres (9yrs)• Surprisingly, the young pupils were less opinionated on what they liked.• Few owned a console. Most played whatever games were on the popular Flash portals (Kongregate etc)• They liked arcadey, simple games and TV quiz games like Millionaire.
Detective Game• Narrative / conceptual model based.• Heavily inspired by the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games• Players explore locations, looking for clues, and speak to characters.
Using Scenarios• The idea was that each learning outcome would be modelled through story.• The characters in the game would describe a mystery and a possible solution.• The player would use evidence to disprove these solutions and in the process would learn the science.
For example...• One learning outcome was: • You should use a separate chopping board for meat and vegetables.
Another Example• LO: There are good microbes in the body and we should look after them.
• Using dialogue, the player knows that the Coach Beveridge character is sick.• The player is talking to a girl called Allison who tells the player that Coach Beveridge has been taking her antibiotic pills.• When the player confronts Coach Beveridge, it emerges that he has killed his good bacteria and that is why he is sick.
Younger Children• For researching the younger audience, we had decided that: • we couldn’t use too much text. • we wanted a visual and simple interaction • I wanted an interaction that was very immediate in its response
Converting LOs to Mechanics• Learning Outcome • Some microbes are good for us.
Platform Game Solution• Used different art to represent good and bad microbes
• Contact with bad microbes hurts the player whereas good microbes can be stood on to jump higher.
• When good and bad microbes come in contact with each other, they kill each other - showing the good microbe protecting the body.
Another Example• LO: We use microbes to make foods like bread and yogurt.
Some areas that worked• Enjoyable - why? • Platform game - good play-testing throughout • levels tweaked to ﬁnd appropriate difﬁculty level. • Didn’t ‘feel like’ an educational game • Detective game - good stories / dialogue • stories discussed with children before hand
• Teachers liked the games • teacher involvement in conceptual stage helped ensure their concerns were met• rolled out to 10 EU countries, more coming
• Some positive knowledge change results • in platform game, particular areas very successful in short period of time (30 minutes of play covering multiple LOs) • in detective game, some encouraging results but not statistically signiﬁcant - too many pupils already aware of correct answer - need further study
GM Choccoli Approach• Mostly successful• Hard to adapt because each LO has a hard coded mechanic• some of the LOs weren’t successfully taught because the mechanic wasn’t evident enough• Can be difﬁcult!
What Next?• I’m working on games to teach secondary school pupils about programming.• My colleagues are working on a number of other interesting project (music, science etc)• We are always looking for schools who want to work with us!
For more Information• www.e-bug.eu • (teacher lessons + games)• firstname.lastname@example.org• @unthank