We 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). 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).
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.