Erasmus+ Playing for Real

logoThe third project meeting in Rome is on fire- amazing work by the practice partners engaging the unemployed in their towns/cities. Those who have been out of work long-term are facing real life challenges and the project recognises the need to inspire and motivate them to better the situations and the environments they are in.
infraThe basic levelling up approach based on gamification is being adapted to support existing practices in engagement and capacity building.  CookieBox is developing the gamification framework and template for the partners to adapt.

End BThe project is highly experimental- we are not playing with “games”, we are “playing” with real lives! What is interesting in this case is how game mechanics are becoming more pervasive in a non-technological way as well. Apart from the gamified capacEnd Aity building resources, the project will also provide simple non-linear game/story books (see snapshots) on the official website to illustrate the project idea and how the local community can get involved.

Our own alumni (our graduate@Coventry University) developed the artworks. #walkthetalk

Watch this space – for the official website. Three non-linear (simplistic) game books will be included. Note the website is still under development!

An article on a trans-disciplinary methodological model accepted for publication

Early this year I briefly wrote about exploring a trans-disciplinary perspective with regards to game-based intervention design and development. ‘Intervention’ brings a game-based approach closer to the stakeholders in real operational environment and it is important to include an intervention mapping approach in the design and development of a game-based (software) solution.

This perspective emphasises on a need to set a strong context for the proposed intervention. In my post on a more holistic approach, technology should not be the (only) main driving factor, but together (collectively) with the strategy for achieving and measuring impact in whatever domain the technological solutions are going to be applied, they will be able to inform the iterative and incremental design and development process through to the subsequent evaluations of the intervention.

Abstract of the paper to be published in the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET):

Towards a trans-disciplinary methodology for a game-based intervention development process

Sylvester Arnab and Samantha Clarke


The application of game-based learning adds play into educational and instructional contexts. Even though there is a lacking of standard methodologies or formulaic frameworks to better inform game-based intervention development, there exist scientific and empirical studies that can serve as benchmarks for establishing the scientific validity in terms of the efficacy of using games to achieve serious outcomes. The development of these games does not normally follow a specific set of guidelines, which limits replication. There is a need to reflect on such a multi-disciplinary process and infuse knowledge from relevant disciplines towards developing a unity of considerations and approaches beyond the disciplinary perspectives. An infused and trans-disciplinary methodological framework could serve as a guideline to inform the development process of a game-based approach. With these perspectives, this paper aims to provide an example of how relevant theories and frameworks can be adopted collectively in order to inform a development process. Based on a digital game intervention aiming to support the delivery of Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) in the UK, this paper reflects on the trans-disciplinary considerations, informed by frameworks such as the Four-Dimensional Framework (4DF), the Intervention Mapping (IM) approach, Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics model (MDA) and Learning Mechanics-Game Mechanics (LM-GM) mapping. IM when infused with the game design considerations of 4DF provides a more procedural perspective to game-based intervention development, collectively reflecting a 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 aspects with the entertainment attributes of gameplay. These components when integrated may formulate a trans-disciplinary model that can be adopted and adapted by other researchers, designers and developers.

Keywords: serious games, game design, trans-disciplinary, game-based learning, game development life cycle

Note: Paper has just been accepted and is undergoing editing and proofing process.

Work-Life-Play blend – visiting fellowship in America

I was awarded a Research Collaboration Fellowship that has allowed me to engage with researchers and practitioners within the area of games science. Games Science can be defined as a field under which, applied games approaches, such as serious games and gamification can be framed- techniques that are underpinned by pedagogical, motivational and psychological theories and practices.

11893746_10155948261885581_2507363162176057191_oThe visit was divided into two 3-week periods. The first three weeks in May were filled with great discussions, drafting of research ideas, article writing, book proposal outlining and bid writing. The visit has further strengthened the development of a key research focus related to pervasive gaming and learning, which has also seen pervasive games being developed and piloted at Coventry University (al11838613_10155948262205581_6484854061139757191_oso follow our intern/developer Tyrone’s weekly blogs on his experience building the prototypes), and a holistic model being established to help inform gamified learning design. This model is currently being refined to further address both technology and non-technology perspectives, which will also include views on both digital and analogue technologies.

The second three weeks started with exciting news about the recently submitted EU Horizon 2020 grant bids. Two bids are successful so far (bids submitted to the ICT-20-2015 and ICT-10-2015 calls). The success of these bids further substantiate the importance and relevance of my key research focus on pervasive games, gamification design and context-aware technologies, and their potential to impact learning, cross-subject teaching and community building. Furthermore, I will also chair a special track on Pervasive Gaming for Learning at the up and coming ECGBL 2015 conference in Norway.

boston 1

Casper, Sebastian and yours truly on a lunch discussion session

I had the opportunity to engage with peers at Northeastern University and the MIT Boston, such as Assoc. Prof. Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr, Dr. Seth CooperDr. Casper Harteveld and Dr. Sebastian Deterding of the Game Design group at Northeastern, and Scot Osterweil, Dr. Phillip Tan and Dr Judith Perry of the STEP/Education Arcade group at the MIT.

An article on ‘An Inquiry into Gamification Services: Practices, Experiences and Insights’ co-authored with Casper has recently been accepted for the IGBC 2015 conference and an article on a trans-disciplinary game design and development model is currently under peer-review (the British Journal of Educational Technology). I’m also working on a grant concept note with Magy on games and emotions, which will target the Leverhulme Trust. Seth gave an interesting talk on the use of games and gamification techniques in solving scientific problems at the DMLL’s #DisruptiveBytes afternoon session via Google Hangout.


Seth at his NE office ready to broadcast

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Live from DMLL

Engagement with the STEP group at the MIT has led to an authoring tool for pervasive games (TaleBlazer) being trialled at the DMLL for developing pervasive game prototypes for supporting language learning. These prototypes will be piloted at Coventry University to evaluate the potential and impact of pervasive games and gamification in higher education. I also gave a talk at the MIT’s GameLab/EducationArcade lunchtime seminar on the research and development work we are doing at the DMLL related to pervasive and gamified learning.

Ross and Ilena of IoP

Ross and Ilena of IoP

Took a scenic train route to New York from Boston and had the opportunity to visit the Institute of Play there. Ross Flatt and Ilena Parker (bios) kindly hosted me one morning, where we talked and discussed about our shared interest in the use of game design thinking in teaching and learning, especially within the context of co-designing and co-creation of lesson plans and contents. Future collaborations and partnerships will be further explored towards the end of the year and our immediate focus is to see if they can be included as associate partners in one of our grant bids.

fab 1The visit also coincided with the FabLab festival in Boston, which was very fortunate. Spent one afternoon being a “student” again- gamified approach to teaching and learning programming and electronics.

All in all, it has been a great experience, and the activities during the visit also align with Coventry University’s Applied Research and Internationalisation Strategy. I’m looking forward to further exploring partnership developments with colleagues and peers in the USA, aiming for excellence in research with impact. Thanks to Coventry University for the Research Collaboration Fellowship that has enabled me to explore opportunities across the pond and to focus on my personal research, publications and grant bids whilst abroad!