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MiT / Popular Culture and Learning Environments

Tuula Nousiainen, Child-Centered Design of Game-Based Learning Environments :
Example of why important “You get to say your own opinions and be active in these things.”

Multidisciplinary perspectives: Pedagogical principles / Design of Technology / Game Content (overlapping between the two)

Educational sciences (child-centered pedagogy) + Human-Computer Interaction (user-centered design) + Game design (player-centered design) + Sociology of Childhood (children’s involvement in decision-making)

Talarius – toolkit for designing digital board games. Learned that UI drawings were especially helpful. Children preferred concrete activities (drawing, testing). Value of novelty [does this diminish as activity repeated?]. Problems with “ownership” — children did not recognize input in the outcome well. [why not? what intervened?]. Therefore, in future make design process more transparent, focus more on creating content, use techniques for winning participation from other areas of child-centered education (e.g. less on HCI).

Virtual Mires: web-based learning about peatland ecosystems: Applying lessons from Telarus. Flash-based adventure game: board game, quizzes, videos, virtual postcards. Took ideas from other websites for how to present information. Students chose the presentation forms, e.g. quizzes, photos, games, mocked up the activities, then digitized for website. Lessons learned: children saw concrete creations, even when somewhat “blurred” (as in games); developers + researchers got children more involved + active in the creation, with aid of adults.

Main values: creativity, ownership, collaboration. Emph. on children having ownership at design level.

Questions: How does this overlap with culture of game modding?

Is the learning from designing game or just designing anything? Also, learning beyond just the content but also in design, working together.

Did you learn anything about game design? Children’s ideas about games were very traditional.


Pilar Lacasa, (Sara Cortes, Rut Martinez), Classrooms as Living Labs: The Role of Digital Games

“I want to change the school. I don’t want to work with schools as they are now.”

Video of kids interacting with each other, not just playing games but next to each other, moving around, sharing (game = Sims on nintendo DS)

“Living Labs” (Sylvia Scribner) — “active participants in a digital universe…” So the challenge is to identify strategies for collaborating among educators, commercial, designers…

Working with EA Spain to use commercial games for educational ends. But it’s always multimedia, not just Playstation but other technologies.

Not just playing games: “We are interested in literacy.” Writing in blogs what they are experiencing. Interesting to see how it changes w/ Playstation in school vs. outside school.

Games as folk culture… cf. Bakhtin: the mask… “violatoin of natural boundaries.” cf. Henry Jenkins.

How? Going into classes and collaborating with teachers. Creating 50 activities for how to use the games (now posted at EA Spain).

1. How to make materials to make task easier for teachers?
a. Begin from the game, e.g. The Sims.
b. Kids to contrast game family with other families, pictures from the Web
c. Kids take pictures of their own families.
d. Kids post to the blog — learning shown in “color” of the writing

2. [oops missed this slide, I think it’s about sharing the experience]

3. How to break intergenerational barriers? What is the role of adults?
Relationship — spontaneous and outside the school. (Will it change the school?)


Why avoid creating new games? A good starting-point — need to learn the “language” of the game for them to become creators.

Challenge of getting teachers to understand the media and make proper use of it. But at least games have an inherent agency that movies, books don’t. Consider the activity of watching the Harry Potter movie + playing the game: movie not just as walkthrough for game, but the game is a way for students to externalize learnings/feelings from the film. (Comparable to writing an essay about the movie? Still the need to find another venue outside the game itself for this…)


Doris C. Rusch, Case study: Emotional Design of the Videogame Silent Hill – Restless Dreams

What makes this game interesting / immersive will be necessary to making a learning game work…

1) Human Source Concerns: what source concerns is the game addressing on the operational levels of fiction, interface and the game as system? In this game: Love + Togetherness. Also, cognitive understanding — what is the truth?

2) Reality Status: what are the factors that lend the game verisimilitude and help the player to willingly suspend her disbelief? Despite uncanniness.

3) Regulation of Player Interest: how is the player kept playing, and what prevents the story from slipping into the background? Working to solve the mystery, puzzles of quasi-symbolic nature but also meaningful to the game itself. Solving each puzzle moves forward the game itself while also revealing the story (works on multiple layers).

Question: How to convey the desired emotions? Couple the game mechanics to the emotions. Cf. ICO; contrast the Godfather, where the relationship is captured in cutscenes but not through your own actions. [This reminds me a lot of bad storytellers who tell rather than show.]

Does this raise issue of suspending emotional disbelief (compare factual disbelief)

Contrast the banality of the Sims’ relationships, activities to Silent Hill.

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