GameChangers goes on tour: Part 1 @CUScarborough

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The GameChangers programme is an exploratory and experimental programme at Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab, where we explore the application and implication of play and games in teaching and learning, specifically in HE. And we are currently going on tour!

As part of the two new spin-offs of the programme, the mobile GameChangers part-funded by HEFCE aims to expand the initiative’s remit to include the other Coventry University campuses (Scarborough, London and Dagenham).

We are currently in CU Scarborough engaging with staff and students (20-21 March 2017) it has been an exciting visit so far. Students are very engaged with the playful approaches of the different play and game-based workshop tasters we are running, such as Thinking with your hands using Lego, Game design and narratives via our associate (Coventry FabLab), Remixing Play into a GamePlan, narratED (What is your story?), etc.

We visited the Sixth Form college in the afternoon on our first day and the reception was also very encouraging. GameChangers was indeed a hit there, especially with the arts and media (graphics) students.

Mobile GameChangers also allows us to investigate new educational “geography”, which includes mobile and ‘pop-up’ creative spaces for fostering creativity and innovation in learning. We will be back in Coventry next (22-23rd) and will also visit our London Campus in May!

A big shout out to the team Helen Keegan, Luca Morini, Oliver Wood and Peter Coleman!!! ACE!

See you soon!

Post-digital transformation via playful and gameful approaches

Living in a digital age includes facing head on options on sophisticated offerings,  cacophony saturations of noise information, divided attention, etc. We tend to be influenced by the latest fad trend and pressure from having to comply to the digital norms can be a bit overwhelming.

However, being too over-driven by technology and the latest trends in digital engagement can take away the value from the “experience” that these technologies intend to foster in the first place.

So how do we cope with this? No real answer really – try switching off and hide in a tranquil forest somewhere? This actually reminds me of yo-yo dieting. I believe in enjoying stuff in smaller portions.

Oh what am I getting to with this Friday brain-fart  post? Well, I’ve been thinking about post-digital transformation of mindsets that will help mould a practice that will act as a conduit between old custom and practices into new and exciting territories. It is about taking inspirations from old and tested practices and remix them into new solutions. And how such practice can help us repurpose rather than re-invent (?).

How can we do it playfully? Taking inspirations from the methods that I have tested, implemented and published within the GameChangers context, I am wondering if collectively these approaches could help individuals to discover and reflect on their playful experiences and use these to inform the design of the experience they wish to facilitate – either for their customers, students, patients, clients, etc.  Note that some of these methods that I developed are currently being adopted and adapted by others. Most recently – the Remixing Play approach (also see workshops at OEB17, Trinidad and CEDEP) was adopted by Adi Montas in her MBA workshop in Guatemala (2017).

With these perspectives, I have drafted a concept that I will test with real participants. The transformation process should start with the discovery and onboarding stage to ensure that they will invest in the process – mindsets transformation is not a short term feat- so the more they invest in the initial experience, the more they will invest in further activities. The draft idea is as presented below:

It would be interesting to hear any feedback on this. I am currently working on some strategy with some European partners on ways to implement this with different stakeholders.

Remix Play Summit 2017

remix-play-gchangers-bannerThe Remix Play Summit has finally materialised and play-personified Feb 15th, 2017 at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab! The initial idea was concocted last year – see a brief introduction to the Remixing Play concept. Since then we have carried out our Remixing Play approach with various groups at the university as well as internationally (including Germany, France, Trinidad and Tobago). And the key highlight is the main celebration of Play in HE at the Remix Play Summit 2017. A huge shout out to the GameChangers and DMLL team, who  coordinated the event, especially Helen Keegan, Oliver Wood, Cathryn Thompson-Goodwin, Lauren Heywood, Debra James, Luca Morini, Samantha Clarke… And thanks to all the speakers and everyone who participated.

The event went brilliantly with clear progressions from the context for play and games through to play in HE and practical insights into gameful and playful design, thanks to our featured speakers – The Godfather of the Game Industry (Ian Livingston CBE), The Godfather of play studies (Bernie de Koven), play for HE researcher and activist (Professor Nicola Whitton) and a well known researcher of gameful design, whose definition of ‘gamification’ is widely accepted and quoted by others (Dr. Sebastian Deterding).

The event was very interactive and there was no dull moments!

Please also have a look at Daryl Peel’s fantastic summary of the day.

The summit also included showcases of the various playful and gameful toolkits and methods which have been developed and/or implemented under the GameChangers programme (including the EscapED, What is your story, Lego). More toolkits will be provided on the GameChangers website soon (still being revamped as we speak).

The summit has also served as a good platform for the Newton CreativeCulture UK-Malaysia project. The Malaysian team was inspired by the event and provides a strong introduction to the adaptation of the GameChangers approach in Malaysia.

The Summit’s twitter hashtag #PlayRemixed was also trending on the day in the UK – charted at no 3 on the trending list! A great feat! And we have also reached a huge audience. Thanks to Debra James for the TweetReach snapshot below.

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Here’s to the next instalment of Remix Play Summit 2018!

Placing my bet on BETT

BETT is a Mecca for those interested in EdTech. This year, it is obvious that robots for STEM/STEAM have definitely gone mainstream, from Lego Mindstorm to VEX.

And playful and creative learning is one of the key themes to this year’s exhibitions, very much aligning with what we are doing at the lab (check out GameChangers and Remix Play Summit)… and love that BETT is also using Game Changer as its tagline this year… ‘Be the next Game Changer’…. so I unashamedly plugged our GameChangers (design thinking though game making) initiative! :))

Playful hybrid spaces, such as the 360 tent were also a highlight for me as I love pop-up playful spaces that add a bit of drama and a lot of fun to “classroom” teaching.

Sir Ken Robinson’s keynote topped an already great day at BETT2017. His wit and enthusiasm, and of course his passion for creative teaching and learning.

All in all, BETT 2017 has done pretty well. See everyone next year 2018! We hope to showcase some of our work next year.

Remix Play Summit 2017

Play, games and gamification have always been key concepts, instruments and methodologies for pushing our innovative teaching and learning agenda at the university and in other external research and innovation projects we are involved in. Collectively, the initiatives are branded as GameChangers.  I talked about Remixing Play in my previous post and I have since spoken about it and run workshops on it in various events..

The GameChangers team have been working hard to finalise the details for the Remix Play summit (Feb 15th, 2017)and we are happy to collaborate with key actors in the play and games domain, who are going to share their experiences and run interactive workshops with us.

Descriptions below (taken from the main GameChangers website, which is currently undergoing a total revamp). Please see the website for the confirmed speakers and workshop facilitators.


The Remix Play Summit is hosted by Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab ( with the aim of celebrating play in Higher Education. Moving beyond “gamification”, “serious games” and “game based learning”, the Remix Play Summit will examine the playful roots and meanings of these approaches and provide an interdisciplinary discussion space to explore the opportunities that play and playfulness can provide for both students and staff.

Questions for discussion include: What can play contribute to a “serious” learning environment? Can playfulness survive the increasing pressure students and staff are subjected to, to remain relevant in today’s rapidly changing world? Is there the risk that play becomes just another tool?

Through talks and hands-on workshops held by some of the leading figures in play, games and education studies (Ian Livingstone CBE, Bernie DeKoven, Sebastian Deterding, Nicola Whitton), we will seek to provide participants with the tools to build their own answers playfully, marking the beginning of new playful collaborations and experimentations with learning institutions and society at large.

The summit will be at the Disruptive Media Learning Lab, Coventry University, UK – 15th February 2017.


Big thank yous to the GChangers, event and web teams – Helen Keegan, Oliver Wood, Debra James,Cathryn Goodwin, Samantha Clarke, Luca Morini and Alex Master


Remix Play in Trinidad

Such a great pleasure for me to share my perspectives on and experience with play, games and gamification with the various sectors at the Play for Outstanding Results conference in Trinidad today.

My keynote address was very much about unpicking the power of play and gameplay, how important it is to provide a safe space for individuals to try new ideas and to also encourage individuality towards a more enriched and diverse collective creativity and intelligence.

My keynote slides:

Kudos to the organiser Arthur Lok Jack Business School!


GameChangers remixed

game changer logo 300dpiThe GameChangers programme has been a key initiative at Coventry University powered by our interest in the need for playful and gameful approaches to be embedded in teaching and learning. Best practices and lessons learnt from the programme have inspired two new spin off initiatives: Mobile GameChangers (Coventry multi-campuses) and CreativeCulture (UK-Malaysia)  which have recently received funding from HEFCE and NEWTON/AHRC/MOHE respectively.

Mobile GameChangers (HEFCE) will bring the practices of game design thinking and playful learning to the different Coventry University campuses, creating a community of playful learners. The project aims to establish an open game design and literacy course and a community of Coventry University undergraduate students across its various campuses, and linking it with both amateur and professional communities in the field of game development. The project will build upon existing experimental pilot initiatives (collectively branded as the GameChangers programme). The approach is underpinned by the pedagogical constructs of ‘game-based learning’ and ‘learning by designing’. By equipping students with conceptual tools for reading and remixing key aspects of current media ecology, they will be able to acknowledge, support and foster their own capacity for active engagement in complex systems-based creative processes, not only as consumers but also as curators, creators and critical thinkers.

CreativeCulture (NEWTON) aims to expand the programme to address educational challenges within the context of inclusive learning for learners from the rural parts of Malaysia Borneo. CreativeCulture will involve collaborations with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), where we will explore, exploit and experiment the impact of arts, design and culture in enhancing creative thinking and development in education (primary and secondary K12) through game design and computational thinking as an approach and instrument for fostering creative problem solving and transcultural practices in Malaysia. Art and Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century. The CreativeCulture project is aligned with the inclusion of Arts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education (STEAM), realising the potential of these subjects by enabling true innovation and new thinking through creativity. Art and culture boost creativity and creativity leads to innovation, new thinking and moving beyond existing skills; all together are triggers and needed in the social transformation. We thus need to allow for fun, playful, hands-on, socially and culturally grounded explorations of curricular topics during primary and secondary school to foster contextualised and deeper learning. In this project, creating games as a cooperative activity on the edge of the diverse fields of Art, Design, Culture, Science, and Engineering can be a fertile ground to cultivate these mind-sets and practices, and to provide a place for them to meet and learn how to fruitfully cooperate in a global setting (transcultural and transdisciplinary).

It will be a very busy but exciting 2017 with these two projects added to our portfolio of work for the next 2 years. GameChangers has come a long way and we will work hard and play hard – injecting serious fun into research, development and practice of playful and gameful learning in the UK and internationally.