Split – explore cultures in a world broken into two realities

Coventry University’s Serious Games Institute has just released a new game, which is called SPLIT, currently available for Android devices. Interesting piece of work, part of the MASELTOV project that is exploiting the engaging factor of a casual game which will hopefully engage players of all ages.

Screenshot 2014-10-30 17.11.44

Game description:

“As a scientist in an experiment-gone-wrong, Split allows you to explore cultures in a world broken into two different realities. Explore and interact with NPCs to solve puzzles, understand differences in culture, and learn how these differences influence common scenarios such as seeking healthcare, or finding a job.

The game has been developed as part of the EU-funded MASELTOV project, which provides a suite of tools and services to support new arrivals in the EU. By using these other services, you can also earn currency to spend in-game on character upgrades.

See trailer

Download: GooglePlay

The dopamine effect – key for game design?

Interesting talk by Agala Mert at#GFH14EU on the dopamine effect and interesting insights that could inform game design. Forget fun- tap into the emotions that motivate!

Found this post online as well which is very interesting:

“Are you the kind of person who is always “on,” constantly driven to achieve? Or are you more of a slacker type, less motivated by the promise of material reward? The difference may lie in the responsiveness of the dopamine system in your brain, according to new research.”

Read here

Games for Health EU

Getting some inspirations from gameful interventions in health at the Games For Health EU event. Motivation theory, need to sustain engagement, self-determination…. But most of all evidence, evidence, evidence. In order to promote the uptake of game-based interventions, we need to prove efficacy and impact!


Context-aware educational resources and dynamics

Within the context of pervasive learning as a response to the diminishing barriers between formal and informal, digital and physical spaces and real and virtual contexts, there is a need to address  the mammoth challenge in advocating seamless learning conceptually, practically and technically. How can the transitions be fostered and optimised? There are various technologies that can be pedagogically repurposed to ensure feasibility in terms of the desired learning outcomes.

The objective behind pervasive and context aware systems is to deliver the most relevant and personalised set of services to the end-user in a timely and on-demand way. Most mobile/portable devices have embedded motion and environmental sensors. Potential for personalised and location/status/time based services is growing exponentially and makes the process of context data distribution very complex and demanding on technology resources such as wireless bandwidth, processing power, storage capacity and artificial intelligence functionality. The combination of sensor variables that might affect the context data needed by one individual creates complexity in its own right but when context sensitive applications may also need to factor in similar variables from other users in the same physical or temporal space it creates an even more demanding environment.[1]  There are some issues with such a pervasive systems in terms of connection reliability. It is important that the GPS signal and Wifi work well in order to understand the exact position of the learners. Current technologies for location tracking can have significant accuracy limitations, especially indoors.

Motivated to explore this further, I had an interesting discussion with the CEO of daVinci Studio, based locally in the West Midlands. He showcased their Beacon technology that could be part of an infrastructure that supports context-aware educational resources within the pervasive learning scenario. Bluetooth connection indoor provides the reliability that is much needed to ensure a seamless experience in and outdoor. Watch the interesting promotional video here.

I aim to look into this further. Contact me if you are interested in similar challenges.

[1] Paolo Bellavista, Antonio Corradi, Mario Fanelli, And Luca Foschini. A Survey of Context Data Distribution for Mobile Ubiquitous Systems. ACM Computing Surveys

[2] Schmitz, B., Klemke, R., & Specht, M. (2013). A Learning Outcome-Oriented Approach towards Classifying Pervasive Games for Learning using Game Design Patterns and Contextual Information. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning (IJMBL), 5(4), 59-71.

[3] Korhonen H., Saarenpää H., Paavilainen J. – Pervasive Mobile Games – a New Mindset for Players and Developers, Fun and Games 2008, LNCS 5294, pp. 21-32

Interesting report on the survey on Teaching with Digital Games


This report discusses how teachers bring games into the classroom, their perspectives, choice of platforms and catalysts for uptakes within a formal setting.

The full report can be downloaded here: Download

Trans-disciplinary methodology for game-based intervention design

Coventry University is playing a key role in pushing the use of digital games in non-entertainment contexts, also known as Serious Games. The use of games science in redesigning ordinary tasks is transforming everyday lives and most importantly injecting more fun in everyday contexts. The power of games to immerse and motivate, and the capabilities of games to foster and facilitate cognitive gain, awareness, and behavioural change have encouraged more games of this nature to be developed within a research context as well as to be deployed in real application setting.

Despite significant challenges for researchers in this field in terms of the lack of standard methodologies or formulaic frameworks that will guarantee success and efficacy, some important scientific and empirical studies have been undertaken and can therefore serve as benchmarks for establishing the scientific validity in terms of the efficacy of using games to motivate learning and achieve learning outcomes.

At the Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL), I’m focusing on developing guidelines for integrating relevant components in game-based approaches that would be a useful addition to the existing design literatures and frameworks. This piece of work emphasises on the need for best practices within a multi-disciplinary setting to be translated into a trans-disciplinary development methodology, which infuses knowledge from different disciplines and creates a unity of intellectual frameworks beyond the disciplinary perspectives. This infused methodological framework should act as a validated guide to inform a development process.

My current research and development thus involves defining a trans-disciplinary model for games and gamification design and development as a strategy or methodology that crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic approach. The aim is to exploit the elements from the different existing discipline-specific frameworks that have been adopted in the development of a game-based intervention aiming to scaffold teaching and learning. The key design considerations should map motivational affordances, psychological outcomes, behavioural outcomes and 21st century learning needs.

This research builds upon existing work in game design studies at the granular level, drawing from established frameworks from relevant disciplines (see Arnab et al., 2012[1]) including the ongoing mapping of learning and game mechanics (see Arnab et al., 2014[2]). A case study based on Arnab et al. (2012), demonstrates how a game called PR:EPARe (Positive Relationships: Eliminating Coercion and Pressure in Adolescent Relationships) was designed by Coventry University’s Studies in Adolescent Sexual Health (SASH) group and the Serious Games Institute (SGI) to assist the delivery of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in the UK.

The trans-disciplinary approach showcased how the Intervention Mapping (IM) approach common to the health intervention field was infused with the Four-Dimensional Framework of Learning (4DF) for game-based learning and the Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics (MDA) model for digital entertainment games. The game design was pedagogically informed via the Learning-Game Mechanics (LM-GM) mapping. Fig 1 demonstrates the merging of IM and 4DF, populated with other models such as the MDA and LM-GM.


 Fig 1. The merging of the Four Dimensional Framework and Intervention Mapping approach (copyrighted)

IM when infused with the game design considerations of 4DF provides a more procedural perspective to game-based intervention development, collectively reflecting a user-centred and participatory development approach. This subsequently provides the basis upon which other theoretical and methodological frameworks can be embedded, such as the MDA and the LM-GM models in order to marry the pedagogical (serious) aspect with the entertainment attributes of gameplay. The qualitative and quantitative evaluations when piloted at the schools in Coventry and Warwickshire demonstrated real benefits for pedagogy-driven game-based approaches to support the delivery of RSE within a classroom setting.

This trans-disciplinary model will be further developed and validated. A paper is currently being developed and to be submitted to British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET).

[1] Arnab, S., Brown,K., Clarke,S., Dunwell,I., Lim,T., Suttie,N., Louchart,S., Hendrix,M., de Freitas,S. (2013). The Development Approach of a Pedagogically-Driven Serious Game to support Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) within a classroom setting. Computers & Education. Elsevier. 69(20130, 15-30.

[2] Arnab S., Lim T., Carvalho M. B., Bellotti F., de Freitas S., Louchart S., Suttie N., Berta R., De Gloria A. (2014) Mapping Learning and Game Mechanics for Serious Games Analysis, British Journal of Educational Technology. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12113

Flipping education seamlessly

The advancement in technology and the emergence of digital natives has sparked a transformation, where teaching and learning is moving away from the one-size-fits-all model. The traditional brick-and-mortar model of delivery is facing disruption from technologies that are promoting time and location-independent access to knowledge.

The role of a teacher is slowly evolving from teaching to facilitating. This leads to learners being given the opportunity to apply concepts and theories in classrooms rather than merely learning them. Learners are now able to explore various concepts and knowledge outside of the classroom via their mobile devices for instance and use these findings to enrich the classroom lessons. Digital environments such as social platforms, crowd sourcing platforms, YouTube videos, Google, podcast, blogs and educational games offer opportunities for self-directed and exploratory learning to be promoted.

Activity learning rather than instructional is key to the Flipped Classroom movement. Flipped classroom is “turning education on its head” by basically delivering instructions (concepts, theories, etc.) online and outside of the classroom context and moving “homework” into the classroom[1]. Learners will apply what they have learned in the classroom to enhance their understanding with teachers acting as facilitators. This offers opportunities for various technology-enhanced learning approaches (including game-based learning and digital-based gamification) to be experimented within this flipped context.

This self-directed approach however poses challenges with respect to effective monitoring of activities and how different media are being used and their influence in promoting learning. How can we encourage and ensure seamless learning experience? Seamless learning[2] could become a highly efficient approach in storing and retrieving information. Convergences of technologies and the learning analytics approach may help connect learning across different settings, technologies and activities to support seamless learning experience within the flipped classroom context.

The evolution of pedagogy is influenced by the way teaching and learning is being disrupted by the emerging technologies and digital culture. We should embrace it and run with it.

At the Disruptive Media Learning Lab (DMLL), we are keen to develop a robust framework to support such evolution of teaching and learning practices. Could gamification be a wrapper to encapsulate, manage and optimise our experience in consuming, curating and creating digital learning resources?