Dr Jacob Habgood, Head of Serious Games, Sumo Digital


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Dr Jacob Habgood, Head of Serious Games, Sumo Digital presents the concept and development of the Outnumbered game for the Nintendo Wii. Video presentation at:


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Dr Jacob Habgood, Head of Serious Games, Sumo Digital

  1. 1. Dr. Jacob Habgood Head of Serious Games © 2009 Sumo Digital Limited Wii Don’t do “Edutainment”!
  2. 2. <ul><li>Sumo Digital Limited: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Work for hire” Console Developer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SEGA, Konami, Sony (Xbox, 360, PS3, Wii, DS, PSP). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Around 120 developers in Sheffield. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Heritage going back to Gremlin Graphics in the 80’s. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Foundation 9 Group </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Around 900 developers worldwide. </li></ul></ul>Just who are Wii?
  3. 3. Personal Background <ul><li>Industry & Academia: </li></ul><ul><li>Gremlin / Infogrames / Atari </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hogs of War, MicroMachines, Actua Sports. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Programmer / Technical Lead (PSX, PS2, Xbox, GC) . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ph.D. in Learning Sciences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>LSRI, University of Nottingham. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Effective Integration of Digital Games and Learning Content” ( www.zombiedivision.co.uk ). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Head of Serious Games </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The Game Maker’s Apprentice”. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Game Development tools for Kids (Game Maker). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But no explicit “learning” products… yet. </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Learning Showcase <ul><li>Work for Hire: </li></ul><ul><li>Console-based Learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Edutainment” products are trickling onto consoles. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Often developed by smaller developers to make ends meet while chasing the big publishing deal. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not necessarily any expertise or passion for learning. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sumo: Serious about Learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Large console developer, great track-record : large publishers beat a path to our door. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Passion and expertise for game-based learning. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perfectly positioned to branch into learning-based console products. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Showcase Game </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-funded WiiWare title: “Outnumbered”. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Design Philosophy <ul><li>Anti-Edutainment: </li></ul><ul><li>Intrinsic Integration (Kafai, 2001) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extrinsic “chocolate-covered broccoli” approaches to integrating games and learning do not work. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Modern example: Questionaut by Amanita Design ( Award-winning web game designers). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More integrated approaches could be more effective. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Research Evidence <ul><li>Zombie Division: </li></ul><ul><li>Controlled Trials </li></ul><ul><li>Results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intrinsic games are more motivating than extrinsic games (as measured by time-on-task). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intrinsic games are more effective than extrinsic games (as measured by learning gains). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intrinsic Skeletons = Dividends Weapons = Divisors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extrinsic Skeletons = Symbols + Extrinsic Q&A </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Control Skeletons = Symbols </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Design Philosophy <ul><li>Maths-Based Game for WiiWare: </li></ul><ul><li>Intrinsically Integrated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Deliver learning content alongside, and in tandem with the flow experience of the game. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integrate the learning content within the structure of the gaming world and its core-mechanics. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unpatronising and Unapologetic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kids are aspirational: so design for big ones. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Safe is dull – zombies/monsters/explosions are fun. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Does Not Try to “Make Maths Fun”! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Maths is simply a medium. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All games are about learning something. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The fact that this happens to be maths should be almost entirely irrelevant to the player. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Pedagogy <ul><li>Interconnected Mathematics: </li></ul><ul><li>Learning Content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conceptual and Procedural Knowledge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Should be developed alongside each other (Rittle-Johnson, Siegler & Alibali, 2001). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Beyond Rote Learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Embodies the meaningful relationships between knowledge essential for understanding (Hiebert & Lefevre, 1986). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Anchored Instruction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Successful mathematics teaching needs to be grounded in “real world” situations (Greer, 1992). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Real world “anchors” (Brandsford et al, 1990). </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Outnumbered <ul><li>Basic Concept: </li></ul><ul><li>Maths can be fatal – especially if you’re a monster! </li></ul><ul><li>Attach your brain to your wand-arm and get ready to cause some serious mayhem as you defend your wizard’s home against an army of magical beasts… </li></ul>
  10. 10. Outnumbered <ul><li>Screen Layout </li></ul>
  11. 11. Outnumbered <ul><li>Core Mechanics: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Mechanism through which players make meaningful choices and arrive at a meaningful play experience” (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004). </li></ul><ul><li>Core Mechanic 1: “Playing with Goo” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Magical mana comes in two flavours. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monsters are made of bad mana while wizard’s towers attract good mana. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bad mana can be neutralised with good. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monsters die when you reduce their bad mana exactly down to zero. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overshooting makes all the good mana fall off the monster. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Outnumbered <ul><li>Core Mechanics: </li></ul><ul><li>Core Mechanic 2: “Monster Grow Bags” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Create your own good monsters. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Drop mana onto a monster grow bag and it will form its own “good” cloud. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fill it up to the desired value of good mana. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grab the cloud to pull the monster from the earth. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The good monster will defeat any bad monster of equal value in its path AND take out any other monsters standing behind it. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Outnumbered <ul><li>Progression: </li></ul><ul><li>At the beginning of the game: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Throwing Goo = Subtraction. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Growing Monsters = Addition. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mixing colours of goo is fine. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Progressing to PURE EVIL: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Monsters which are pure evil can only be defeated by pure good mana – i.e. a single colour of goo. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Now : </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Throwing Goo = Division by repeated subtraction. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Growing Monsters = Multiplication by repeated addition. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Outnumbered <ul><li>Core Mechanics: </li></ul><ul><li>Core Mechanic 3: “Divide and Conquer” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Repeated subtraction is a slow way to divide. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magic can speed that up. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any value of blob can be powered up to become a divisor. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magic blobs kill monsters instantly (provided that they divide!) </li></ul></ul>Fire Ice Lightning
  15. 15. <ul><li>Core Mechanics: </li></ul><ul><li>Divisor Relationships: </li></ul><ul><li>Core Mechanic 4: “Multiplying Monsters” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Repeated addition is a slow way to multiply. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Magic can speed that up. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The result is always “pure” good. </li></ul></ul>Outnumbered 2, 4 &8 3, 6 &9 5 & 10 7
  16. 16. Outnumbered <ul><li>Emergent Gameplay: </li></ul><ul><li>Core Mechanics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Throwing Goo = (Repeated) Subtraction. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Growing Monsters = (Repeated) Addition. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dividing Monsters = Division. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiplying Mana = Multiplication. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mixing Mechanics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pure Evil / Pure Good. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monster Immunity (Red, Blue, Yellow). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subtract -> Divide / Multiply -> Add. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(23 – 2) / 3 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Smart Bombs” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>End of Level Bosses – multiple clouds </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Outnumbered <ul><li>Difficulty Level: </li></ul><ul><li>Gameplay Difficulty: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Standard gameplay progression: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Speed, quantity, strength, visual cues. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Same for every player. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Mathematical Difficulty: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive Model: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Tracks use of key domain concepts. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Varies difficulty accordingly. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Different experience for every player. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Additional replay value. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Outnumbered <ul><li>Wii Demo </li></ul><ul><li>Around 50% Complete: </li></ul>
  19. 19. Any questions? <ul><li>Release </li></ul><ul><li>Coming to WiiWare Summer 2009 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>500-1000 Wii Points (£3.50 - £7.00) </li></ul></ul>Outnumbered