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Games and Learning Ph.d stipendiat Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen IT-University Copenhagen sen@it-c.dk www.game-research.com 1. Oct. 2002, ITU Agenda : Introduction Learning games now Some game examples Sketching a theory for game learning dynamics Introduction :

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Games and LearningPh.d stipendiat Simon Egenfeldt-NielsenIT-University Copenhagensen@it-c.dkwww.game-research.com

1. Oct. 2002, ITU

agenda
Agenda:
  • Introduction
  • Learning games now
  • Some game examples
  • Sketching a theory for game learning dynamics
introduction
Introduction:

Masters Degree in Psychology, Copenhagen University in 2000.

PhD Student at IT-University of Copenhagen. Currently in first phase of exploring in-depth my project.

Consulting/work:

Framfab A Web agency where I was responsible for children, internet, gaming and entertainment. Placed in the department Centre for User experience.

Game Research Started to bridge the gap between arts, science and business within gaming.

Written two Danish books on games and learning.

introduction4
Introduction:

Currently trying to grasp the area of learning in broadest term

I will present a little about the field learning and digital games, and present a model I am currently working on.

I concentrate on learning and content – not learning as change in cognitive and processing ability.

agenda5
Agenda:
  • Introduction
  • Learning games now
  • Some game examples
  • Sketching a theory for game learning dynamics
agenda6
Agenda:

Different research initiatives on computer games and learning (in order):

  • Adventure games & Puzzles: Riven, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego.
  • Business, military & society simulations: Simcity, Doonesbury, Combat Flight Sim
  • Health training: Foodman, Bronkie
  • Virtual worlds: Everquest, Active worlds.
  • Mathematical: Logo, Through the Glasswall, E-gem.
  • Cognitive skills: All games to varying degrees (problem solving,spatial, motor coordination, verbal).

Source: from meta-search on abstracts in database (Eric, Psych info, Medline, Emerald, Proquest, IJIL, web-sites)

Suffer the same problems as game research in general. The favorites are Adventure, simulation and strategy games, in that order – no action games.

agenda7
Agenda:

Deals with learning from different angles, with different potential and consequences:

The matrix of research interest:

Learning focus

High

Low

Subject(Math, Language, geographic, history)

Competences(Spatial, perception, analysis, problem solving)

Low

Game focus

Genre(Adventure, simulation strategy, action)

User group(Pupils, students, disabled, maladjusted, business)

High

agenda8
Agenda:
  • Introduction
  • Learning games now
  • Some game examples
  • Sketching a theory for game learning dynamics
learning games gone bad
Learning games gone bad:

Learning games are actually even more focused on the unfortunate tendency of game designers - the desire to control the universe.

Often learning is conceived in a faulty way, through the glasses of an old behaviorist-learning paradigm. This game is clearly very subject oriented!

  • Problems:
  • You make a visual universe set in a Pyramid without relation to the learning.
  • You want to give the player a specific amount of learning. This you put first in the game.
  • Then you add little classic games with no relation to the Pyramids or the content available first in the game.

Picture: Chefrens Pyramide

learning games somewhat better
Learning games somewhat better:

In the best cases the knowledge is part of the playing experience like in Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus, where you must fight asthma.

This game is very much from a genre perspectives – Lieberman set out to create an education action game.

  • Advantages:
  • You make a visual universe set in a play world with knowledge primers.
  • You give the player a specific amount of learning. Which you integrate into the actions in the game
  • The game remains cool and the learning is a natural part of the game universe.

Picture: Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus

europa universalis the facts of the game i
Europa Universalis: the facts of the game I?

The game primarily covers the European history from 1419 to 1820. You can choose different scenarios within this period or the grand campaign spanning the whole period. A staggering amount of different states where you must manipulate on different levels to become successful: Military, technology, economy, religion, culture, diplomacy, colonization, fleet, trade etc.

The quality of this material make it relevant for use in other contexts.

europa universalis the facts of the game ii
Europa Universalis: the facts of the game II?

“The computer game development was drastically different from the board game….. While the board game has a deterministic view of history the philosophy for the computer game was to make historical changes possible to make a more enjoyable game.”

Malmberg (2002) 

The combination of subject experts with game development professionals should be a goal. What sets Europa Universalis aside is that it did not set out to encompass certain aspects of history but took it as an important ingredient in the overall playing experience.

What really makes a difference is the ability to integrate learning as compelling material thereby also making possible the transfer of more factual knowledge.

slide13

Scenario: Split screens:

Scenario: Start-Finish:

Play

Knowledge problems

Know- ledge

Know- ledge

Knowledge

Play

Play

Play

Play

Play

Story problems

Start of game part

End of game part

Start of game part

End of game part

Story line

Story line

Story line

Sketch of current typical learning dynamics:

Note: Could also find other models like network, but these are the most occurring

Some (new) adventure games to some degree eliminate this story problem.

agenda14
Agenda:
  • Introduction
  • Learning games now
  • Some game examples
  • Sketching a theory for game learning dynamics
slide15

Play

Drive- Main engine

Story

Knowledge

Compelling material- Fuel for the engine

Structure

Information

Time

Sketch for a new theory of learning dynamics in digital games:

 PlayExploration, intrinsic motivated, pretending, rules negotiable, engaging, participatory

 StoryUsed in a very pragmatic meaning: the content that connect the game over time and space and at the same time frame the game universe.

 StructureIs the premises of all games like rules, goals, an outcome etc.

 Information Information is meaning a human assigns to data through using the known conventions in their representation”

 KnowledgeKnowledge is the result of the subjects processing of information and fitting it into existing schemata (learning).

slide16

Player’s focus

Play (pulls)

Story

Setting

Objects

}

In-game environment

Structure + story = catalyst

Play

Story

Information

Learning

Sketch for a new theory of learning dynamics in digital games:

Learning as the game progress:

  • LearningThe combination of information elements presented especially in the story material, that is processed by the subject, and fitted into existing schemata through reflection or automation.

Story, setting and objects are made meaningful through foremost the structure and secondarily the story, which is activated in play situations

The important point is that the player’s focus is on what these things mean in the currentplay situation.

Therefore the a priori meaning attached to story, setting and objects are not, what are presented to the player!

The process of a specific learning incident:

slide17

Sketch for a new theory of learning dynamics in digital games:

This highlights the problem with the current limited focus on certain game dynamic formulas, as the meaning constructed is within a limited universe, which from a learning perspective is problematic

An overview of restrictions in relation to different learning types:

The table points to the dilemma of computer games in relation to two different types of learning.

slide18

Happy hunting:

A couple of issues I am currently pursuing:

Relation between meaning and narrative: What role does the human search for meaning play in narratives.

Learning and narratives: How do they fit together. How have narratives been used in other media for learning purposes (like narration of historical tv-programs on Discovery).

Different learning types: What are the consequences of the different underlying philosophically assumptions of learning theories – ontology/epistemology. Do any lend itself better to understanding games than the others.

The transfer problem: Do computer games pose a special problem when transferring experience/learning/knowledge/information from a game context to another.

Motivation and intentionality: Do the powerful, attention and hold on the players intentionality pose problems in relation to learning – the search and fitting of learning into existing boxes.