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Towards an Automatized Construction of Personalizable Video Games for Education

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Serious games can be effectively applied for learning purposes aiming at facilitating technology-enhanced education. In order to apply game-based learning for various curriculums in an easy and straightforward way, educators and pedagogues need software platforms for automatized construction and flexible personalization of such games. This speech presents an open software solution being under construction at Sofia University in the scope of the APOGEE research project. The solution is built on the Unity 3D platform and is specially designed for specification, automatic generation and easy personalization of educational video games based on mazes. Thanks to the personalization of didactic content and to the various mini-games being able to be embedded into any maze room, the educators and other non-ICT practitioners can easily intend to apply different learning scenarios using the generated maze game tailored to the age, gender, learning style, and outcomes of the individual student. There will be presented the process of construction of smart and personalizable 3D video maze games with intelligent virtual players, together with the components of the APOGEE software platform. The talk is going to include demonstrations of two experimental video maze games generated by the first prototype of the platform and used for its validation - one about the development of the carpet handicraft in Bulgaria, and the other about the Bulgarian medieval history. The initial results acquired from these experiments are very positive and encouraging with regard to the usability of the APOGEE platform by domain specialists who are not IT professionals.

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Towards an Automatized Construction of Personalizable Video Games for Education

  1. 1. 15th International Conference on EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES (EDUTE'19) Towards an Automatized Construction of Personalizable Video Games for Education Boyan Bontchev Department of Software Engineering, Fac. of Math. and Informatics, Sofia University St Kliment Ohridski, Bulgaria May 27, Rome, Italy http://wseas.org/cms.action?id=19211
  2. 2. Computer games as a new media APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 2Credits: Hitbox Team
  3. 3. Computer games Video games Computer video games Text games 3 APOGEE Audio games COMPUTER VIDEO GAMES Tablet games TV/Console games Web games Handheld games Construction of Personalizable Video Games
  4. 4. Construction of Personalizable Video Games 4 Entertainment games APOGEE
  5. 5. APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 5 Serious Games (SG) Digital interactive applications that allow users to make specific experiences that promote active and experiential paths of learning in various domain of human existence,  through virtual/augmented simulations  through ludic and playing formats “A serious game or applied game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment” (Abt, 1970) “A serious game is a digital game in which education is the primary goal, rather than entertainment” (Micheal & Chen, 2006) SG enable self-controlled, active and playfully learning 5
  6. 6. The three kernels of SG design APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 6Source: Serious Games for education and training, Alessandro De Gloria et al., 2014 Theory Contents Game design Pedagogy Cognition Psychology Flow/presence Perception Behaviour Learning Leaning domains: Geography History Mathematics Physics Languages …. HCI Goals A/V (audio/video) Storytelling Rules 2D/3D graphics AI Levels Programming Our focus? Personali- zation + Adaptation
  7. 7. Personalizable Video Games for Education Personalization in educational games:  directed to the instructional design and learning contents  learners understands how they learn best so they can co-designing their learning goals along with the teacher  the instruction is focused on learning goals  the didactic content is tailored to learning needs and preferences Personalization leads to:  games conformed to the specific interests and needs of different individual learnersAPOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 7
  8. 8. The Personalization Model 08/07/2016 Player-centric parsonalization of video games for education (Terzieva and Bontchev, 2019) 8 Laerning content Learner Learning style metrics Learning styles Learning performance and efficiency (solved tasks, grades, and gained knowledge) Preferences (age, goals, needs, and initial knowledge)
  9. 9. Adaptable Video Games for Education Adaptation in educational games:  directed to dynamic changes the gameplay according to the player/learner model  the tasks’ difficulty and other game features are tailored to the changes of the properties of the individual player Adaptation leads to:  games conformed to the specific dynamic changes of different individual players APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 9
  10. 10. The Adaptation Model APOGEE Player-centric adaptation of video games for education (Bontchev, 2016) 10 Game dynamics Player Player style metrics Playing styles Playing performance and efficiency (abilities, skills and knowledge) Emotions (flow, immersion & intrinsic motivation)
  11. 11. Workflow of emotion-based game dynamic adaptation control APOGEE (Bontchev, 2016) 11 Implicit Emotional Indicators (via sensors & other devices) Facial expr. EDA Heart Rhythm ECG EEG Pressure … Change Procedures Time Velocity Acceleration Route Size Defeat range Luminosity Contrast … Real-Time Explicit Player Feedback through Adaptation Control Panel Analysis Change Visuali- zation Triggering Events on Behavior Templates
  12. 12. Serious Problems with the Serious games  Higher development cost  Lower attractiveness compared to entertainment games  Transition between instructional design and actual game design implementation - how Game Mechanics impact and interact with the Learning Mechanics  Assessment - effectively tracking and analyzing of the right parameters related to learners’ progress (knowledge gain, reflection and application)  How psychological theories should be used in the design of realistic and convincing NPCs?  How different pedagogical paradigms relate to SG and SG mechanics - reference framework needed! APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 12 D1.6 GALA Roadmap 2, Nov. 2011
  13. 13. The greater challenges:  Higher development cost … and, on the other side,  … lack of enough free and customizable platforms for automatic creation of serious games … are addressed by the APOGEE project (2018 -2020) funded by the Bulgarian Fund of Scientific Research and aiming at creation and practical validation of an innovative open software platform for creation of smArt adaPtive videO GamEs for Education (APOGEE). APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 13 http://www.apogee.online/
  14. 14. The APOGEE Project: Goals 1/2  construction, automatic generation and customization of educational video games based on formal descriptive model including semantic structuring of both game and didactic content – this ambitious issue addresses the current lack of such platforms and tools in global aspect. Especially for a effective usage of the platform, a methodology will be created for facilitating non-IT professionals in creation of video games for education;  dynamic adaptation of features of created educational video games according to outcomes, arousal and emotional state of the individual player – the platform will allow game rules, dynamics and audio- visual effects to be tailored to the changes in the player model inferred in an implicit way at run time; APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 14
  15. 15. The APOGEE Project: Goals 2/2  3D virtual players in the game (so called non- player characters, or NPCs) will apply intelligent agents answering player questions using knowledge and facts extracted from lexical corpuses with didactic contents as learn books and Web pages;  the validation of both the methodology and platform for creation of smart adaptive video games will make use of practical experiments with construction of games for education in Bulgarian medieval history by educationalists and teachers, for assessing the usability of the game platform in terms of being used by non-IT professionals and, on the other hand, playability and learnability of the smart adaptive video games constructed by the platform. APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 15
  16. 16. What type of educational games will be generated? 1/2 Our choice – educational labyrinths (mazes), because:  Mazes are broadly used in entertainment games and that makes them very appropriate for interactive representation of content, like virtual museums and other interactive environments  Mazes can be used in various 3D role-playing action/ adventure games applied to specific scientific or cultural domain - the player explores the educational content in the maze and moves from one place to another by:  choosing one of the several options for an action  solving didactic tasks located in maze rooms  Mazes are good for procedural content generation  Maze graph, nodes, tasks, audio, etc… - in an XML doc APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 16
  17. 17. What type of educational games will be generated? 2/2  Furthermore, mazes can be enriched with board/logic/ word games such as quizzes, puzzles, or other mini- games situated at appropriated places into the labyrinth that makes them suitable for game-based learning in any learning domain  The connecting graph of the labyrinth is to be designed by the educator, according a given learning curriculum, i.e. aligned with pedagogical goals and methods  Good for personalization and adaptation - while passing from a room to another, the player has solve additional didactic tasks appropriate to his/her current knowledge and outcomes  Mazes may have intelligent NPC for tutoring/helping the learnerAPOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 17
  18. 18. Existing platforms for automatic creation of serious games Criteria/ Solution Quandary Qedoc Quiz Maker ADAPTIMES Maze Builder Distribution Web Desktop Desktop Desktop/Web/ Mobile/Console Type 2D 2D 3D 3D Game platform None None None Unity 3D Programming language None None Python C# Learning resources slides, test questions slides, test questions, learning games slides, test questions, arranging images slides, test questions, arranging 3D objects, hidden 3D objects Customization images, music, video, font images, font, sound effects Textures, rooms Textures, images, music Open code No No Yes Yes Price Free Free Licensed Free APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 18
  19. 19. Manually created XML document + audio/video content Unity3D API Unity3D Game Editor Didactic game tasks Maze Builder Online games Unity3D game engine (browser plugin) Game managers 3D maze Maze Builder: the APOGEE platform for construction of 3D online video games for education – the current version APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 19
  20. 20. Note: blocks in dotted line are under construction Textual content Graphics Audio content Generated XML + multi- media content Unity3D API Unity3D Editor Didactic game tasks Metadata (XSD) Connectivity Editor Didactic tasks Property Editor Maze Editor Maze Builder Virtual players Intelligent Q&A agents Online games Unity3D game engine (browser plugin) Personalisation and adaptation Virtual players 3D maze Maze Builder: the APOGEE process for construction of rich 3D maze games for education APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 20 Automatic game generation
  21. 21. Games Construction Smart Services Game Creator User Management Authentication User Profile Learner Profile Player Profile Asset ManagerMaze Editor Maze Validator XML Builder Maze Creator Game Builder Play Games Learning Analytics Gaming Analytics XSD XML Unity Project Files Unity Game Files Asset DB Game DB User DB Game Player Presentation Layer User Analytics
  22. 22. Timings in the game creation APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 22 Unity 3D Game Platform Maze Builder Custom Package XML Maze Description Game Assets (text, images, audio) 3D Maze 3D Maze Game Read Import Generate Build Import Arrange 4 min 2 weeks 5 min 4 days 2 s 20 s 4 h 12 min Shown timing are for creating a six room maze game
  23. 23. Importing the Maze Builder package in Unity 3D APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 23
  24. 24. After the import: Custom panel of the Maze Builder platform in the Unity editor APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 24
  25. 25. A Sample XML maze description APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 25
  26. 26. The maze is generated just after the XML import APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 26
  27. 27. Example 1: Educational 3D Maze Games for Carpet Handicraft in Bulgaria  Target: vocational training and education in Bulgarian ethnography  Focus: the game is dedicated to the fabrication of carpets in Bulgaria since 17th century to the present times  Maze connectivity graph: six halls interconnected by doors APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 27 RoomCenter Intro RoomNorthWest Tciprovtzi - 2 RoomWest Tciprovtzi - 1 RoomEast Kotel - 1 RoomNorth Sliven RoomNorthEast Kotel 2DoorE DoorE DoorW DoorW DoorS DoorNDoorN
  28. 28. RoomCenter Intro RoomNorthW est Tciprovtzi - 2 RoomWest Tciprovtzi - 1 RoomEast Kotel - 1 RoomNorth Sliven RoomNorthE ast Kotel 2 DoorE DoorE DoorW DoorW DoorS DoorNDoorN The maze from top camera view in Unity APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 28
  29. 29. A screenshot of the initial view of the game (the central room) APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 29
  30. 30. Current types of didactic game tasks 1. Answering a question for unlocking a door to another room 2. Rolling balls marked with given content to specific positions on the floor map 3. Rolling balls marked with given content to specific rings on the floor 4. Finding/discovering hidden semi-transparant objects and gaining points APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 30
  31. 31. Answering the question for unlocking the door to the west room APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 31
  32. 32. Rolling a ball to the location of the town of Tsiprovtsi APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 32
  33. 33. A game task for rolling three balls (right) to their correspondent rings (left) APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 33
  34. 34. Finding a semitransparent hidden object (in this case, hanging from the top) APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 34
  35. 35. A view of a sample generated game (http://adaptimes.eu/carpetgame/) APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 35
  36. 36. Example 2: a historical game Asenetsi (a game about the medieval history of the Bulgarian Kingdom in 12-13 century) - http://apogee.online/games-en.html APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 36
  37. 37. Video Asenevci (an educational video game generated by the APOGEE platform), with subtitles in English https://youtu.be/mI9NwiZOrB0 APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 37
  38. 38. Didactic game tasks under development  Answering several questions (a quiz) about the didactic content presented in the hall;  Arranging a 2D puzzle (generated from an image);  Solving a ‘word soup’ puzzle (searching specific words in rows, columns, or diagonals) – in all directions;  Detection of invisible objects hidden in larger visible objects by moving the large objects;  Ordering and classification of found objects by specific feature;  Memory development game – the player has to remember and match equal images or texts;  Shooting on moving objects (e.g. balloons with a 3D didactic object attached to them). APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 38
  39. 39. Towards an online game generation platform of intelligent and adaptive online games  Automatic online maze generation using a metadata- driven XSD-based maze editor with a Web-based visual graph editor and checker, used by non-IT professionals for creation of video games for education, based on a generation of the XML maze description  Creation of intelligent agents for question answering based on extraction of facts from domain content (e.g., Wikipedia)  Smart services for content personalization based on the learner model  Dynamic adaptation of features of created educational video games according to outcomes, arousal and emotional state of the individual playerAPOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 39
  40. 40. Results from a survey: “Do you think that educational video maze games are an effective tool facilitating education?” APOGEE A Video Game Generation Platform 40 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00% 60.00% 70.00% definitely no more likely no I can't say more likely yes definitely yes
  41. 41. Results from a survey: “The idea to use text in XML format for describing video maze games is very good and has future” APOGEE A Video Game Generation Platform 41 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00% 60.00% definitely no more likely no I can't say more likely yes definitely yes
  42. 42. Results from a survey: “The utilized learning tasks, answering test questions for unlocking doors and finding hidden objects, are very appropriate for educational games” APOGEE A Video Game Generation Platform 42 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00% 60.00% 70.00% definitely no more likely no I can't say more likely yes definitely yes
  43. 43. Results from a survey: “The time spent on game and amusement obtained is GREAT” APOGEE A Video Game Generation Platform 43 0.00% 5.00% 10.00% 15.00% 20.00% 25.00% 30.00% 35.00% 40.00% definitely no more likely no I can't say more likely yes definitely yes
  44. 44. Conclusions The impact of serious video games will be higher thanks to their synergy of story, art and technological achievements including affective and adaptive gameplay. Applied maze games for education will be used more and more for immersive cultural presentations, teaching, assessment and training Open and free gaming platforms will be a must Personalization and adaptation will bring a better motivation, engagement, and outcomes Intelligent virtual players (NPCs) will bring to a higher player motivation and engagement APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 44
  45. 45. Thank you for your attention!  Questions ?  Proposals !  Remarks …  Disappointments   Doubts   Congrats   Donations €  Sth else ® Write to:  Boyan Bontchev, bbontchev@fmi.uni-sofia.bg  http://www.apogee.online/ APOGEE Construction of Personalizable Video Games 45

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