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Games: More than just fun


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This is a short presentation given at the UNISA Library Technology Showcase 2013 where I discussed the importance of games.

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Games: More than just fun

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  2. 2. • I am also a Multimedia Specialist • I have been lecturing in Multimedia for 7 years • What is Multimedia • Information Science • Visual Design • Computer science • Web based development • How to combine all of the above • My dissertation is about Alternate Reality Games • I also focus on: • Game studies • Gamification • Serious games • Game design theory • Recently I gained an interest in Game Design and education • This interest is not in educational games, but in using games to teach and educate • There is a difference, in my opinion! • Educational games is thematic similar to the content you are teaching • Games for teaching is designing a game about aliens/robots/time travellers where the actions you take are fun and entertaining but requires you to exercise skills that you require in the real world 2
  3. 3. • Games as a medium engage people • By nature games are interactive and immersive (or they are supposed to be) • Games provide the player with the feeling of power (the “epic win” as stated by Jane McGonigal) • Games provide players with the feeling of control (player agency) • Games are FUN! • Games are engaging – They create flow • Flow is a state of mind achieved by a player when he experiences a high degree of focus and enjoyment - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi • Games are a literacy • This statement is a very hot topic at the moment • It was made by Eric Zimmerman in a very recent essay he wrote called “A Manifesto for a Ludic Century” • In the essay he claims that the new century is the century of games (calling it the Ludic Century) • He claims that not only should people be technology literate but also and visually literate but to survive in the Ludic Century, one should be gaming literate • The manifesto is a lot more than that, but this quote of Eric Zimmerman stuck with me: Games are a literacy 3
  4. 4. • I included this section just to be clear on what the requirements are for something to be considered a game (defined in Rules of Play – Zimmerman and Salen) • There are, as with most things in this field, a large variety of definitions for games • Games have been around for thousands of years, they are ancient • People have been playing games since civilisation started • Games are: • A system containing • A collection of activities • Guided by artificial rules • To overcome obstacles • And to achieve specific goals • The activities have meaning within the context of the game • The activities may appear to be completely inane outside of the game context 4
  5. 5. • Serious games are games used for more than just entertainment • Serious games are used to teach people things in an environment that is safer for them • Examples of usage of serious games: • Military training – simulate real world scenarios in the safety of the training facility • Educational games – teaching people something through using games • Training games – To train people to use certain equipment • Training games should differ from simulation training by still adhering to the requirements of “what is a game” • In most of these examples, the game should still adhere to the requirement of what it means to be a game • Examples: • Arma I – Used for military training • Mars Rover Landing – Awareness of the landing of the Curiosity rover (science) • FoldIt – A puzzle game that simulates protean folding. Solving the puzzles can result in real world science application 5
  6. 6. • Games designed to modify the behaviour of people • Persuasive games take advantage of the fact that games are a persuasive medium • Ian Bogost extensively cover this topic in his book, Persuasive Games • He also started a company that creates “persuasive games” • Examples of these games are ( • Colorfall: a puzzle game to promote cognitive health and physical activity • Debt ski: a game about savings, debt and its consequences • Fatworld: a game about politics and nutrition • There are a lot of other examples as well 6
  7. 7. • Gamification is the use of game thinking and game elements in a non-gaming context in order to engage users of an existing system • Gamification enhances the experience of using existing system by borrowing elements from games • Examples: • Nike+, Strava etc. - Fitness • Zombie run – Closer to a game 7
  8. 8. • • Serious games are still being defined • Many of these definitions may appear to overlap 8
  9. 9. • To play a game is to engage in the system and adhere to all the requirements imposed by this system • To play a game is to move around in this rigidly defined system (game) • The system is designed with the purpose of building a context, an experience • The purpose of the system is to be engaged in, to play in. • Gamification has a system in place that fulfils certain criteria • Gamifying this system, you place game elements on top of this already built system • The express purpose of the system is designed when the system is developed (book airplane tickets, buy goods online, read the news) • Games are designed and built from the ground up as games • Gamified systems have game design elements applied to them to increase their engagement. 9
  10. 10. • An ARG (Alternate Reality Game) is a game • An ARG is also a narrative that encapsulates the players reality • The player participates in a story (world) that is not distinguishable from the real world, except for the fact that there are aliens ☺ • An ARG requires players to play together. • The players need to solve puzzles that cannot be solved individually • The players must play as a community (share information, discuss solutions, discuss the narrative etc.) • An ARG use multimedia – from snail mail, to augmented reality applications. • An ARG requires the player to accept the mantra “This is not a game” 10
  11. 11. • We are currently developing an ARG that will attempt to exercise library activities • We are targeting a group of students that are busy completing our information literacy course presented at the University of Pretoria • The game will be a game, not a gamefied system • The actions the players will take during the game (the activities guided by the artificial rules) will be related to library usage • The goals the players need to achieve (the goals of the game) will be game world related • The rules of the game is extremely broad due to the nature of an ARG • The players can do anything they want, pursue any avenue of enquiry • Certain actions will results in game related outcome (story related events) • The reason players will participate in the game will be: • Because it is interesting (the story interests them) • It is fun! (hopefully) • The players control the reality • The players are engaged • They want to see what happens next 11
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