My three week stint in Boston has finally come to an end. Apart from the gorgeous weather, the highly pedestrian friendly university city and the friendly locals, I have also enjoyed spending some time with the research groups at the Northeastern University’s Plait group, the MIT’s Gamelab and STEP (Education Arcade) and Tuft’s Robolab-LEGOEngineering. Key insights from all the different visits, discussions and lunchtime discourses revolve around the need for a seamless approach in bridging formal and informal learning and a more social and community driven game-based learning. My task now is to prioritise on what to explore further. But one thing for sure is to explore design cases involving game and learning designers – let’s talk about failures and not just successes, what can we learn from these untapped experiences and knowledge!
Till August- for now Boston I shall bid you farewell!
A common denominator that often influence how research and innovation actions could actually impact the application domains in a large-scale manner is funding. With respect to most projects related to game-based learning, costs and efforts associated to the pre-production and post-production stages, are often underestimated. How can we sustain an initiative beyond the barriers of resources? Can we increase uptake? Can we fully rely on our own intrinsic motivation to see change happens and spearhead regardless?
I’m rather interested to see if a ‘crowd’ model could help disrupt our research practices. Crowd sourcing is not new – see wikipedia, yahoo answers, etc., where the public can co-curate and share open information about any topics. Crowd science has also seen the general public involved in protein folding in the Foldit gaming research initiative. The emergence of crowd funding portals all over the world has also demonstrated that it is possible to capitalise on personal and intrinsic interests, which could translate into monetary pledges in return of a sense of ownership as well as some tangible momentos, etc.
Could and should we crowd source and fund research and co-own the outcomes and potential impact?
Developing games for serious use and for impact is not straight forward; despite the misinformed perception that a serious game is just a software. It is more than just a software as it has a role as an aid to facilitating learning outcomes, attitudinal change and behaviour nurturing, while attempting to entertain in one form or another. The process a designer will have to go through is highly interdisciplinary as user and subject experts influence its trajectory and iterations from the pre-production through to the post-production stage. The research rigour required in a pre-production stage forms a huge task that will hopefully shape how the game is going to be effective in the post-production stage. What measures, KPIs, assessment techniques, formal versus informal, etc. What forms success? The balance of playfulness and seriousness? Who determines this- alas no such thing as a formula. The target audience is the answer – the impact the games will produce- learning that has been enhanced, attitudes that have been moulded and behaviours that have been nurtured through the science of games. Sounds complicated and not that very straight forward to say the least.
Design cases (see Boling, 2010) could provide a way for us to document reflections of considerations and processes that went into specific development tasks, which could serve as potential guidelines. Where shall we start? Successful serious games perhaps? or the most impactful? Can we self-reflect our own design practice and extract/highlight insights that would be interesting and new?
Spring in Boston, 2015