2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 33 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

[Early View] Article on Transdisciplinary #Gamification #Seriousgames intervention development process

The Early View  version of the article I mentioned in my Sept blog post is now online ahead of the online publication of the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET) journal issue.

Arnab, S. and Clarke, S. (In Press), Towards a trans-disciplinary methodology for a game-based intervention development process. British Journal of Educational Technology. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12377

In this article, we define a trans-disciplinary model for a game-based intervention development as a strategy or methodology that crosses many disciplinary boundaries to create a holistic approach. Even though a development team should ideally consist of all relevant disciplines, in reality the team would have to rely on limited resources. A more correlated methodological model derived from a transdisciplinary process could thus act as a guide to inform development considerations and process.

4DFIMThis article reflects on the considerations leading to an understanding of the trans-disciplinary perspectives of the development process. We touch on the adopted theories and frameworks from the domain of serious games, health intervention, entertainment games and pedagogy that have collectively informed the process, which include:

  • Four-Dimensional Framework (4DF) (de Freitas & Jarvis 2008)-commonly used to inform considerations for serious games evaluation and design,
  • Intervention Mapping (IM) approach (Batholomew et al. 2011)- a methodology that guides the design, implementation and evaluation of health intervention programmes,
  • Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics model (MDA) (Hunnicke et al. 2004)- a framework that acts as a guideline for entertainment game design, and
  • Learning Mechanics-Game Mechanics (LM-GM) mapping (Lim et al. 2013, Arnab et al. 2015) – the mapping of pedagogical aspects to game mechanics.

The article illustrates how existing design and development processes can be analysed and reflected upon towards documenting considerations, perspectives and methods that can be correlated and infused into a holistic methodology. This paper highlights the feasibility of infusing approaches relevant in different disciplines in order to inform the design and development of game-based intervention. Game development considerations can be deconstructed into four key dimensions using the 4DF model exploiting a participatory-driven context and learner’s profiling using the IM approach. The MDA and the LM-GM models inform the mapping of relevant pedagogical aspects against the entertainment attributes of gameplay.

The components from the different approaches when integrated formulate a trans-disciplinary model that can be adopted by other researchers, designers and developers. This paper discusses the possibility of looking at an existing design and development project and reflect on the process, considerations and decisions made, which could be used as guidelines for future development. Further work will include adoptions in other game-based learning interventions that will lead to validations of the process and adopting the same approach in analysing and reflecting on other SG design and development projects.


Arnab S., Lim T., Carvalho M. B., Bellotti F., de Freitas S., Louchart S., Suttie N., Berta R., De Gloria A. (2015). Mapping Learning and Game Mechanics for Serious Games Analysis, British Journal of Educational Technology, 46: 391-411 doi: 10.1111/bjet.12113

Bartholomew, L. K., Parcel, G. S., Kok, G., Gottlieb, N. H. & Fernandez, M. E. (2011). Planning health promotion programs: an intervention mapping approach (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

de Freitas,S. & Jarvis, S. (2008). Towards a development approach for serious games in Connolly,T.M., Stansfield,M., Boyle,E. (ed.) Games-based learning advancements for multi-sensory human-computer interfaces: Techniques and effective practices. Hershey: IGI Global

Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M., Zubek, R. 2004. MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research. Proceedings of the Challenges in Game AI Workshop, Nineteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

Lim, T., Louchart, S., Suttie, N., Ritchie, J., Aylett, R., Stanescu, I. A. et al (2013). Strategies for effective digital games development and implementation. In Y. Baek & N.Whitton (Eds), Cases on digital game-based learning: methods, models, and strategies (pp. 168–198). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.


Borderless learner: A super learner in a hybrid learning space


Thinking about the topic for my TEDx talk today. 23rd January is not long to go. I have been exploring Experience Design (EX) and Gamification a lot this year and the impact on the future of formal education. So it is only natural for me to focus my talk on being a super learner, the designer of our own educational Hero’s Journey.

The tentative outline is as follows:

The increasing use of games in non-entertainment contexts is transforming everyday lives and most importantly injecting more fun in everyday contexts. This talk will explore the science of games and how education can be an adventure, especially in a hybrid space, where the boundaries between digital and physical contexts and spaces are blurring. Digital and physical experiences are merging in a big way with the advancement of social platforms, mobile technology, wearable devices and the Internet of Things, opening up opportunities for ordinary spaces to be transformed into highly contextualised, purposeful, seamless and ubiquitous playgrounds. As a learner in an information-saturated, fast-pacing and highly connected environment, how can we be a game player, a game changer and a super learner within a learning community that is more global and social. Are we moving towards a borderless, hybrid and gamified educational ecosystem? Learning is a pervasive process and should not be restricted. This talk will touch on the Horizon 2020 Beaconing project that is exploring ‘Anytime Anywhere’ learning to emphasise the EU Commission’s invested interest in pervasive learning and gamification. The talk will also emphasise on the Game Changers programme, where Game design thinking is key to creative problem solving opening up opportunities for learners to design their own learning experience. The gamification of learning will be so pervasive that we will not even realise that we are already in the system; a system that connects mind space, digital existence and physical experience. Should we only be a player or also as the co-designer of the experience? It is time to exploit ‘Games Science’, turning learning into a game; a journey without borders – a journey where anything is “achievable”. Be a learner, a designer of your learning experience, a journey towards mastery.

I will talk more about my thoughts on the power of Experience Design (EX) in my next blog post, reserved for the new year!

A chapter in Springer’s Encyclopedia of Computer Graphics and Games

I was approached to write a chapter for the the Encyclopedia of Computer Graphics and Games earlier this year. The chapter is finally in-press and it talks about ‘Game-based intervention in public health: exploiting the engaging factor of gameplay’, focusing on the application of game science, techniques and technologies for supporting public health interventions.  The application of both Serious Games and Gamification are described in this chapter.

A short extract:

The use of game technologies and techniques in the form of Serious Games and Gamification presents an opportunity for the engaging mechanics and dynamics of game-play to be exploited in order to promote receptiveness to the serious message of public health campaigns. Longitudinal engagement with gamified platforms allows the facilitation of the recording and reasoning of large-scale health and wellbeing data. By better understanding knowledge, attitude and behavior of the “players” and assessing their progress continuously, personalized and actionable feedback can be provided to nurture healthier habits.” Arnab (in press)


Game Changers – game design thinking for creative problem solving

game changer logo 300dpiWe soft-launched the Game Changers Programme at the DMLL Expo on 25th November 2015. I have also talked about it in my recent talks at various events. The programme, which will be officially launched in January 2016 aims to explore, experiment and exploit game design thinking in fostering creative problem solving and cross-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary design collaboration. The overarching pedagogical construct of the initiative is motivated by ‘learning by designing’, which is a project-based inquiry approach.

Problem solving will benefit from the practice of design, which is a non-linear, iterative and incremental process as well as generative and creative. Design thinking has crossed over to learning, where it is a “way of finding human needs and creating new solutions using the tools and mindsets of design practitioners” (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, pp. 24-25[1]). As it pertains to games, it is a “set of skills, competencies or dispositions relating to the highly iterative collaborative process designers employ when conceiving, planning and producing an object or system” (“Institute of Play,” 2013[2]).


Gamified design programme- Copyrighted 2015

The programme will focus on the design and development of games (analogue or digital) or gamified activities for addressing serious issues/challenges/problems/opportunities. The initial pilot will be a gamified six-week programme that will involve weekly stages (missions) with sub-tasks (quests), where participants can level up based on their level of readiness. The levels and contents are developed based on the holistic and modular model for designing gamified learning that is being developed at the lab. The layers can be visited and re-visited in an iterative and incremental manner to consolidate the design requirements and specifications.

The programme will provide open contents and resources to assist and guide participants and organise open sessions (workshops, speakers, etc.) throughout the process. We will also experiment on ‘Open Badging’ for feedback and the ‘Sprint’ concept for ‘product’ development.

The first phase is open to all staff and students across Coventry University   as part of the pilot phase (Jan – March 2016) and will engage key actors from the industry (also open to external experts and organisations in games, design, EdTech, etc to get involved). This pilot will inform the programme’s long-term strategy, which will be open to participants external from the university (see main description, which includes the Research Questions).

Participants will obtain valuable knowledge in creative and collaborative problem solving, experience game design and development process and gain recognition from the industry. This programme will directly support the flip classroom agenda at Coventry University, where lecturers will be able to gamify their subject content and/or teaching practice for instance and involve students and game/gamification experts as co-designers. The programme will produce products such as online and open resources on game design thinking, game prototypes and new model for running this program to support cross-faculty collaboration to be showcased in our next Expo in March 2016.

[1] Tom Kelley and David Kelley, Creative Confidence (New York: Random House, 2013), pp. 21-25

[2] http://www.instituteofplay.org/about/context/glossary/