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Seminar notes 2/6/06

Guests: John Laird (EECS), Chris Quintana (Ed)

John: 7 principles of game design
Games – rules + goal (default goal, not just one you make up; i.e. winning at basketball)
Addictive nature – from intermediate goals; short-term, long-term, overarching goals
Interactivity – concentrate on activity rather than story, character, artwork, etc.
Sidenote: gaming and surgeons; surgeons who played a lot of game (something like Smash Brothers) were better (faster, fewer errors)
Feedback – players need to know what goals they need to achieve, where they are in the goals, etc.
Limit meaningless repetition – skip parts already seen, goal-oriented repetition OK
Consistency – know what to expect, visible reason for failure
Fairness & balance – no single dominant strategy (rock/paper/scissors)

John’s editorial – games don’t really teach you anything about the real world; some exceptions

1. training – second-language learning example; game where you have to speak Arabic to achieve goals in the game; inflexibility of the game important in helping you pronounce appropriately

Chris – asks about Schank’s case simulation stuff
Note: John’s making distinction between training and education, skills vs. concepts

Do games help us learn? Priti and John – maybe games help with component skills (expanding working memory and visual attention) but not domain knowledge development

John – good game design and learning at odds – good games don’t allow time for reflection; good games move to new goal quickly

Gender and games – maybe these are design principles for “games for boys”
Jude – maybe role playing’s involved some how
LINK: purple moon – games for girls, different goals

Design vs. design research

John – generalization, taking findings from one place and using them elsewhere makes it research
Chris – James Paul Gee’s group at Wisconsin
John – 1/10 games makes money; we don’t have a science of entertainment (movies, games don’t always make money)Priti – John, are you a learning scientist?
John – no, I’m not a learning scientist; interested in how people learn, but it’s too difficult in how to understand that; not interested in sociological aspects of learning
Priti – we’d probably claim that’s learning sciences research

Chris on his chapter

Chapter written responding to/using Norman’s user-centered design approach

Discussing questions from CTools

Scaffold vs. tool? Our group claimed scaffolds were in service of tools rather than at odds with them

Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development – scaffold is something (a support?) to give the learner to get to the next level, improve performance
Scaffolding in software – help a learner do something with a little assistance; software feature that provides assistance; actually provides assistance, also temporary; once you’ve developed a skill, the scaffold goes away

Explicit vs. implicit – making something explicit may be part of the scaffolding; making the process explicit might be how you help a person move to next level; scaffolds really do go away, not just get implicit

Generalizability – Should software be like tofu? (able to take on the flavor of what’s around it). I ranted a bit about the flexibility and specificity available in software since development cost is really low. Group in corner (Joi, Marianne, Jenny) talked about modular development (different modules do different things), remember the teacher (let teacher decide when and how to use what modules)

LINK: Gabriel Saloman – “effects of” versus “effects with” technology; “cognitive residue” (referenced in Quintana chapter – here’s the article)

So, what do you think ?

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