Last week I went over to Nesta in London for a game science and game based learning session. They had a few groups there and were cohosting with the serious games institute at Coventry uni. This blog is just my take-homes and brief thoughts on the session (which I had to leave a bit early to get up to the IoE for a seminar there!)

Nesta Game Based Learning Event

Nesta Game Based Learning Event

Serious Games Institute Professor Sara de Freitas of the Serious

Games Institute kicked us off with an introduction to their work, and a few demo’s/trailers of some of their games.  I was slightly surprised that the brief trailers seemed to indicate the games were pretty quiz-oriented rather than game-as-practice oriented which is an angle I think epistemic games pulls off well and I’ve enjoyed reading both David Williamson Shaffer and James Paul Gee on. I suspect this is more an issue with the demo’s than the actual games, but it would have been nice to see something a bit richer in the demo’s really.  I thought the choice of games was also interesting.  On road crossing, sex and relationships education, and cultural awareness for immigrants… I haven’t really explored it but I found the second one really weird, giving sex and relationships education through a really upbeat quiz style game…it was just a bit creepy. Anyway, Sara presented three challenges to future development of games: 1. Traditional Education is likely to have a crisis of cost.  But, for example Call of Duty had a $240million investment, so how do we reconcile the desire to use games and their potential cost value with that huge investment, how do we make them scalable? 2. how do we develop games that are an immersive experience? 3. how do we develop user engagement including the use of learning analytics? # EduGames Hub Then Martha Henson @marthasadie of Edugameshub spoke about that and legup which brings a wide range d of stakeholders together for ed game meetups…nothing much to add to that really, it’s great to see these new developments and there’s a lot going on in the area of tech and edu-tech meetups at the moment :-). # Institute of Play Next up Rebecca Ruffo-Tepper of institute of play – a non profit design lab – dialled in from the states to talk about Quest to Learn, which comprises a charter school (a couple?) which is implementing a games based curriculum.  Within their school, game designers and learning designers meet each semester to plan missions (schemes of work) for the curriculum.  I find this pretty interesting, but I do wonder how much it deviates from what good schools are doing anyway (without calling it games based) in terms of the sharing of resources, collective planning, and project based learning.  I’m also not clear how much the US curriculum differs to our own and what freedoms that might present to the development of independent schemes.  It was interesting that Rebecca pointed out that most of the games they develop are paper based, partly due to time constraints, and that’s something I’ll mention again later… # Aberdeen City Council Then [@Charlie_Love]1 from Aberdeen city council spoke about games and computational thinking in Scotland and their shift from knowledge based curricula to skills based. I had a brief discussion on Twitter about that that as I’m inclined to say that the shift is from information based to knowledge based (where knowledge requires action), in any case semantics side I think it’s a great shift! Charlie presented a few challenges for continued development of computational curricula: 1) supporting pedagogy for computational thinking 2) supporting teachers in their computing practice, heroin then to develop their own computational thinking 3) building communities of learners, moving away from the image of the line coder sitting in their rooms # UKIE Finally Dr Jo Twist of UKIE (and previously, Channel 4 education) spoke about the industry perspective. She particularly emphasised the importance of seeing games as cultural artefacts in their own right and the pressure they are putting on the EU and other official organisations and funders to see them as such. # Take-homes & Questions * We need to think about games as cultural enterprises just as much as literature and art * We need support – across a wide range of stakeholders – to support development of games/computational/practice oriented/project based learning and thinking * We need to think about how to develop rich, good value, immersive games On the last point, I think one of the questions I had was around the need to focus on graphics, at the cost of focussing on other aspects of game play.  I’ve spent some time talking to both [Stefan Kreitmayer]2 and [David Williamson Shaffer]3 and one of the notable things about the games both of them make is that they’re practice oriented, not graphics; but they’re still fun!  In the former, Stefan uses large interactive displays for low-graphics material which facilitates in-room game play (e.g. providing teams material on what other teams are doing and how successful it is to facilitate a sense of competition and challenge).  As the school example above, paper based games can also be incredibly effective. The other big question I had – which I don’t think was mentioned once – was the issue of transfer.  It’s great if we can get 1000’s of players, but it doesn’t matter at all if there’s no transfer of skills, if users play the game and learn that, but then can’t implement it in the real world, then the endeavour is at best problematically flawed!  This issue in part is related to what we want to measure, and what skills/knowledge we want students to develop. In any case, an interesting event and I look forward to attending further Nesta afternoons!