1. Story-Game Design for Learning
Nelson Zagalo, University of Minho
Institute of Education of the University of Lisbon 15 November 2014
Third International Conference on ICT in Education - ticEDUCA2014
2. …work done
Authored and edited books on:
Interactive Storytelling, Aesthetic Emotion, Virtual Worlds and Videogames.
I’m now writing a new book specifically on:
3. Great domain of Human–Computer Interaction, from a Communication Cognitive
In specific, Interaction Design, and in concrete, Engagement.
What I do?
4. How does ‘Interaction Design’ relate to ‘Education’?
Interaction Design is a specificity of the
communication concerned with the design
of the relation between machine and
Education is the relation built within the
transfer of knowledge and skills from
generation to generation.
5. How to design better the communication in
education, bringing into play knowledge from
Interaction Design, more specifically from
What will we talk about?
6. Like all other animals in the planet Earth, from an evolutionary perspective,
we are made of very basic needs - Food, Sex, and Shelter. We believe, that
what have made us follow different paths, in the past, was the need to
We were endowed with a sustained “epistemic curiosity” (Leslie 2014).
. Who we are
. What we are
. Where we are
. Why we are
Evolutionarily, the questioning survived and became more and more
relevant, because it was primordially responsible for the progress of our
culture and technology.
Our biology became designed to feed us pleasure, whenever we get
To do that, we need to understand our subjects,
7. How do we make sense of ourselves?
We create stories (Bruner, 1990; Boyd, 2009; Gottschall, 2012).
How do we make sense of the others?
We empathize (Rizzolatti & Craighero, 2004; De Waal, 2009).
How do we make sense of the world?
We simulate (Gallese & Rizzolati, 1999; Kergen 2012).
and, we need to understand our tasks.
8. To make sense of ourselves and the others
We have Narrative.
To simulate (decisions, choices, building, etc.)
We have Games and Play.
We have Teachers.
thus, what tools do we have…
10. What is a Narrative?
Narrative is made of a story (chronological and causal set of events) which
is represented trough a plot (specific organization of events) and specific
medium (words, pictures, sounds, etc.).
12. We build sense in our minds through narration, because we are unable to
understand disconnected fragments of words, pictures or sounds. Our mind
blends everything together in a whole, using narrative, creating sense and
But stories are also intense empathizers machines - we mimic, we copy, we
identify, we project, we identify – with story characters. We learn from them,
what means to be other, creating awareness, building our own identities.
The purpose of stories.
13. Stories are made of sequences of progressive and causal events, this means:
for every event presented, a cause (an answer) must exist, and must always
be given. You’ll then stay engaged until you get your answer (the climatic end).
But why do we engage with stories?
14. You don’t get to act, to participate, in the sense you don’t need to take sides,
to make choices.
You sit and you cognitively interact, but you never decide anything, it’s not
up to you to do it.
That’s why videogames surpassed movies. And that’s why movies are
struggling for alternatives to introduce participative accesses for the
Does stories have problems?
18. More or less like current school systems, no?
Class Years: K1 - K12
Gamification is so profound in our schools, that students will not work
toward extra-curricular assignments, if it is not quantified by the school.
For every outcome achieved, a drop of dopamine (the pleasure hormone) is
released in our brain flow.
How does this “quantification” works?
20. What are these “outcomes” good for?
Engagement and Repetition
We engage easily when there’s something to gain, when the outcome is quantifiable,
when we get: the ANSWERS.
Engagement make us Repeat, which is important to make us better in the
process of mastery.
21. You get happy because you get feedback, the answers, but you are
only following structured paths.
…you don’t get the chance to question it, because of that, it
becomes repetitive, and finally looses you...
What is the problem with these systems?
22. They added progressive causal events.
How videogame industry reacted to repetition?
+NARRATIVE, complexer story layers and affective motives
27. "Play is free movement within a more rigid structure".
(Salen & Zimmerman, 2004)
Play is “contextual”; “free”; “spontaneous”; “unpredictable”;
“enthusiastic”; “self-motivated”. (Lopes, 2004)
Why Play is different from Game?
28. “The more time that children spent in less-structured activities, the
better their self-directed executive functioning [planning,
organizing, strategizing, attention, etc.].” (Barker, et al., 2014)
You defy rules, you go against status quo, you subvert
conventions… this is also what happens when you create Art, that’s
why we call it Creative Play. Play is nothing less than the highest
creative human behavior.
What happens when we Play?
29. Why do we engage with Play?
The free and spontaneous action acts toward designing possible and
You incrementally evolve your actions and goals, at your own specific
rhythm. You create your own “scaffolds” (Bruner) you design your own
“zone of proximal development” (Vigotsky).
You feel advancing, progressing, step by step (like making stories in
your mind), this pushes you to maintain your self-motivation active.
30. What’s the problem with Play?
In the 21st
century with computers, robots and automation the society we built throughout the
century is changing. More than ever repetitive work (manual or cognitive), the one that can
be traced through patterns and routines can be easily done by computers/robots. We need to
adapt, and look for areas were machines have difficulties, Brynjolfsson and McAfee (2014)
purposed three areas:
:: “ideation” (have ideas),
:: “creativity” (do differently)
:: “innovate” (create new)
Society knows that, politicians know that, and because of that a witch-hunt
started. Erase fact knowing, forget knowledge and put all emphasis on Logic,
Critical Thinking, Techniques to Reasoning all in the name of building the New.
You cannot learn to think differently, we are learning today was we had learnt in the
past 50 thousand years, our brains didn’t change. Means we are unable to create in
the void. To play creatively - have ideas, do different, create new - you need to
know and understand very well the old.
32. Ethnographic studies have questioned the idea of genetic talent,
Colvin (2008) and Coyle (2009) showed how throughout the world talent
is mastered, and it comes essentially to three vectors: Repetition,
Motivation and Coaching.
If you want to be a good piano player, a marathon runner, or live from
writing, there are no shortcuts, you need to REPEAT over and over
(Ericksson, 1993), but to be able to keep repeating, you need
MOTIVATION, which can only be built with the support of a COACHER
The teacher is someone who knows what to look for in the repeating
process, knows errors and successes from the past, guides the learner,
makes him feel anew everyday, giving feedback about progress, showing
the evolution, the step by step, and it is from here that motivation is built.
What is the purpose of a teacher?
34. What we know, and how it works?
Narrative gives us the ability to understand; Games the ability to repeat;
and Play the ability to create. Also, teachers bring old knowledge, show
the path and sustain motivation.
35. Our proposal
Duration of the bloc of knowledge
Have the teacher bringing together the best from - Story, Game and Play - in the
design of blocs of knowledge.
Use Narrative to create the backdrop for knowledge, launch a big question of the
bloc, and leave it in the air, to be answered at the end. Build short Games,
throughout the description of knowledge, in order to develop repetition and attain
mastery of each bit of knowledge. Finally use the last part, after the climax, to
open a contextual Play space, permitting free construction of ideas.
36. . Continue the discussion around Creative Play, and its need to be
fueled by old knowledge…
. Open the discussion around Gamification taking into account
videogames, not games…
. Use the Gamification momentum to Rethink the way we quantify
school outcomes, Rethink the relevance of outcomes for politicians
against our children…
37. Story-Game Design for Learning
Nelson Zagalo, Universidade do Minho
I’m a professor and researcher of interaction design, I’ve no affiliation with Education. Why am I here?
Interaction Design is the specificity of the design of artefacts concerned with the communication with humans.
Education, is the relation built within the transfer of knowledge and skills from generation to generation.
Education as Interaction Design, has Communication as a central motive. The question of Education is not only related about what to transmit, but also How to transmit. And that’s about that I want to talk here.
Communication is not a simple act of transmission, but an act of putting in common, so to create understanding. In this sense, what I want to purpose here, is, how to design better the communication in education, a sort of “learning design model”.
Education as Interaction Design, have communication in their core. The question of Education, more than what to transmit, is about how to transmit, is about how to build relations, which is the central question of Interaction Design.
The first thing we do in IxD is to analyse subjects, their motivations, needs and expectations.
In the XXI century we live in a world were manual labor can be artistically interesting, but not enough to give food to everyone. More than in any other time, we need to work with our heads. This is not a question of South against North, or East agains West, this is