Game-based intervention design meets Design Thinking


It was a great pleasure to run a one-day workshop with Daniel Meusburger with the University of Munich on 6th May 2017. A weekend well spent.

The workshop merged the transdisciplinary considerations for game-based intervention design and the design thinking methodology for empowering non-game designers to design their own playful and gameful strategies. The participants are involved in psychology and clinical research within the context of interventions for children with learning disorders. And this is part of their project for developing digital and online hub for supporting children and professionals, such as teachers, parents, support workers, etc. Picture1

This calls for a methodology with rigour that will ensure that the change objectives and measures intended for the proposed intervention programme are emphasised in the design process. The specific slide deck for the transdisciplinary approach is shared below. And you can read more here.

The group achieved first iteration of their design for interventions related to learning disorders and it is my hope that they will adopt and adapt the approach to develop programmes that will be implemented.

 

 

[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.

References

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.

 

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

Abstract

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.

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.

4DFIM

 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