Doris Rusch--DePaul University

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“The Role of Metaphors in Designing Games for Emotional Health”

This talk explains the role of metaphors for the design of emotional health games. Attendees will learn how to use metaphors to systematically model abstract, “inner processes”; how this facilitates the design of games for emotional health, and how such games can be used for education and mental health activism.

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Doris Rusch--DePaul University

  1. 1. making games with a purpose Dr. Doris C. Rusch, DePaul University, CIM Monday, August 26, 2013
  2. 2. key questions to define a vision and stay on track during development Monday, August 26, 2013
  3. 3. games about the human experience... ...and emotional health Monday, August 26, 2013
  4. 4. a game about addiction Monday, August 26, 2013
  5. 5. Seer (based on Oedipus Rex) Monday, August 26, 2013
  6. 6. a game about depression Monday, August 26, 2013
  7. 7. emotional empowerment Monday, August 26, 2013
  8. 8. financial literacy Monday, August 26, 2013
  9. 9. games... • about something • with a purpose beyond fun • tackling tricky (abstract) concepts • different approaches to achieve their goals • message communicated through rules and game mechanics Monday, August 26, 2013
  10. 10. game design = decision making Monday, August 26, 2013
  11. 11. developing a vision... ...and minimizing the gap between intent and outcome Monday, August 26, 2013
  12. 12. 1. question: what’s the theme / core concept? what shall the game be about? Monday, August 26, 2013
  13. 13. Abe likes Sophocles Monday, August 26, 2013
  14. 14. Monday, August 26, 2013
  15. 15. what to focus on? Monday, August 26, 2013
  16. 16. http://gambit.mit.edu/loadgame/seer.php Monday, August 26, 2013
  17. 17. “Your sole responsibility is know what the game is about and to ensure that the game teaches that thing. That one thing, the theme, the core, the heart of the game, might require many systems or it might require few. But no system should be in the game that does not contribute towards that lesson. It is the cynosure of all systems; it is the moral of the story; its the point.” (Koster, 2005, p. 126) Monday, August 26, 2013
  18. 18. student exercise: find the theme • pick a (children’s) book, comic, movie, artwork, or album that moved you profoundly • identify its theme & express it in one word • design a card game about that theme that makes the theme tangible through gameplay. Monday, August 26, 2013
  19. 19. “this game is about...” “this game deals with...” “this game explores...” “this game teaches...” “this game simulates the experience of...” (see also Brenda Brathwaite & Ian Schreiber’s book: “challenges for game designers” Monday, August 26, 2013
  20. 20. 2. question: what is the purpose / communicative goal of your game? Monday, August 26, 2013
  21. 21. http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/591565 Dys4ia by Anna Anthropy self-expression Monday, August 26, 2013
  22. 22. raising awareness / making a statement Gonzalo Frasca: September 12th Monday, August 26, 2013
  23. 23. object to think with / training Monday, August 26, 2013
  24. 24. change perception & behavior Tiltfactor Laboratory, Mary Flanagan Monday, August 26, 2013
  25. 25. “Way” by Coco and Co Monday, August 26, 2013
  26. 26. Gamification Monday, August 26, 2013
  27. 27. lots of different purposes; be clear about yours before you settle on a design. check your design constantly against its purpose. Monday, August 26, 2013
  28. 28. purpose needs to be integrated into the rules and gameplay if players can ignore it, they probably will! Monday, August 26, 2013
  29. 29. 3. question: literal or metaphorical approach? Monday, August 26, 2013
  30. 30. theme: depression depression quest: (mostly) literal metaphorical Monday, August 26, 2013
  31. 31. literal • player-side: message is often clearer • easier to relate to “real life” • design-side: • more accessible source system • danger of getting stuck with the obvious • danger of confusing action with experience Monday, August 26, 2013
  32. 32. metaphorical • player side:harder to understand • needs great interface design / feedback systems • design-side: hard to keep coherent • inaccessible source system Monday, August 26, 2013
  33. 33. 4. question modeling “how it works” or “what it feels like”? Monday, August 26, 2013
  34. 34. literal; emphasizing “how it works” Monday, August 26, 2013
  35. 35. (mostly) literal: “what it feels like” Monday, August 26, 2013
  36. 36. 6. question: what’s the focus? Monday, August 26, 2013
  37. 37. “zooming in”: an exemplary situation is used to draw attention to an underlying issue. “zooming out”: allows the player to explore the complexities of the issue itself. Monday, August 26, 2013
  38. 38. “zooming in” tends to focus on a subjective experience of the modeled situation (“what it feels like”) “zooming out” tends to focus on understanding the bigger picture (“how it works”) Monday, August 26, 2013
  39. 39. 6. question: from which PERSPECTIVE will the player interact with the system? Monday, August 26, 2013
  40. 40. waiter, cook, manager, customer? Monday, August 26, 2013
  41. 41. Rod Humble’s “the marriage” abstract concept: perspective of “force of love” “how it works” Monday, August 26, 2013
  42. 42. procedural expression • partners have different needs • for the marriage to work, the needs of both have to be satisfied • the game is hard = marriage is hard • equality of partners is crucial • a bad marriage is not an option Monday, August 26, 2013
  43. 43. wha...? Monday, August 26, 2013
  44. 44. design exercise: shift perspectives • challenge assumed “logical” perspectives and explore non-obvious choices • what kinds of statements would it allow you to make about the source system? • how would it change gameplay experience? Monday, August 26, 2013
  45. 45. 7. question: What is the player-avatar relationship? Monday, August 26, 2013
  46. 46. OCD game Monday, August 26, 2013
  47. 47. the most important meta question: is it working? does the game achieve its goals? testing, testing, testing Monday, August 26, 2013
  48. 48. summary of questions • what is the game about? (core concept) • what’s the game’s purpose / communicative goal? • literal? metaphorical? • what it feels like? how it works? • perspective from which player relates to system? • player-avatar relationship • test: does the game achieve its goal? If not, check if you ended up modeling what you actually wanted to model. Monday, August 26, 2013
  49. 49. thanks, questions? drusch1@cdm.depaul.edu Monday, August 26, 2013

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