Serious Games and Virtual Worlds: April 4-24, 2007

The Value Of Serious Games

The Value Of Serious Games

by Therese Weel -
Number of replies: 8
Well,  time to just jump to the core of the matter here and post about  value of serious games.  

I gathered some notes the other day  and organized them into 4 main categories.  I note that my summary overlaps  serious games and virtual worlds.  Wishful thinking on my part. I'm looking forward to when serious games begin to overlap more fully with virtual worlds. 

I feel compelled to paraphrase after reading the welcome thread and our varied interest in these topics. It seems Serious Games engage us and help develop our skills  While Virtual Worlds  help us explore to our creative side and our sense of self.

I invite you reflect and refine.

A Pathway For Learning
  • Allows learner to create a unique mental model
  • Empowers through governance of game play
  • Enables a clear learning pathway
  • Internal versus external control
  • Provides a blended learning in a socialising environment through audio, visuals, avatar P2P
A Tool to Construct Knowledge
  • Challenge attitudes and assumptions
  • Identify blind spots and knowledge gaps
  • Build knowledge, decision making, contingency skills
  • Create excitement which anchors retention
  • Providing individual and organizational ROI
A Venue to Refine our Identity
  • Develop confidence, self-esteem and identity.
  • Especially true in  role playing games, 3D,  persistent multiverses where the player develops and projects an identity
  • Player may assume different character traits and experiences the results first hand.
  • Practice makes perfect.

 A Safe Place To Explore
  • The more closely a game simulates the real world the more we engage and benefit from our virtual experience.
  • 3d technology provides improvements in engagement, interactivity and thinking skills.
In reply to Therese Weel

Re: The Value Of Serious Games

by Corinne Brooks -
RE: A safe place to explore

Can make mistakes without any real-life consequences, can try different strategies/experiment in safe environment
eg flight sims - can crash the plane without endangering life,
business sims - can lose billions of pounds/dollars you don't actually own if you use wrong marketing strategies etc

Also can experience situations you wouldn't normally come across - eg practise what you would do in a nuclear attack situation or your survival strategies in Antarctica.
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: The Value Of Serious Games

by Tia Carr Williams -

In 'Virtual Liberty: Freedom to Play in Virtual Worlds', Jack M. Balkin predicted that MMORPG technologies will soon be adopted for non gaming enterprises, leading to a more diverse future for virtual worlds:

'As multiplayer game platforms become increasingly powerful and lifelike, they will inevitably be used for more than storytelling and entertainment. In the future, virtual world platforms will be adopted for commerce, education, military, professional and vocational training, for medical consultation and psychotherapy, and even for social and economic experimentation to test how social norms develop. Although most virtual worlds today are currently an outgrowth of the gaming industry, they will become much more than that in time.'

Many virtual worlds already defy strict categorization as games, serving more as extensions of reality than escapes from it. Edward Castronova has defined two memes at work within virtual worlds: virtual worlds as play spaces and virtual worlds as extensions of the Earth. He posited that official knowledge of each world's status as 'open' or 'closed' could help closed worlds guarantee their users' rights to play by protecting them from the interventions of Earth law. While it may be a useful exercise to define the open or closed qualities of MMORPGs, the worlds know as 'social virtual worlds' actively resist this type of binary classification system by maintaining deep ties to the offline world while still functioning as play spaces. In this paper, the author discusses the ways in which the cultures of play in social worlds differe from those found in gaming worlds and provide several examples ofhow these cultures of play rely specifically on constant reference to the offline world.

In reply to Therese Weel

Re: The Value Of Serious Games

by Sylvia Currie -
In my work with online teaching and learning (post secondary level) I find that value gets lost when there is too much technical overhead. People give up on trying to do what's necessary to get up an running with a game or simulation -- downloads, passwords, high bandwidth etc. 

I wonder about the value of 3D technology when balanced with the technical overhead. I think I need some examples of effective low-tech games -- the kind where imagination is key. Anybody have any examples to share?
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: The Value Of Serious Games

by Therese Weel -
How very true, Sylvia

Sofar I had been defining serious games as computer games.  But those games are really just modelling some sort of real world experience  or existing game.

To look at the value of the game.  We need to consider the game itself and what it gives us.

Lets take for example, a party game like Charades.  Charades develops our non verbal communication skills and encourages social interaction .   We could play charades virutally using video cams.  It would be a hoot    - but I don't own a video camera.  So perhaps a game like Charades is better played in  person.

In reply to Therese Weel

Re: The Value Of Serious Games

by Corinne Brooks -
Low tech games reminds me of the old text based adventure games. If nothing else they taught nsew and the mportance of getting the words/commands exactly right. You also had to imagine the landscape - even draw yourself a map. There are still a few around. I played the hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy text adventure game a short while back.
In reply to Corinne Brooks

Re: The Value Of Serious Games

by Therese Weel -

Where we are now with our Virtual worlds and awesome graphics is a far cry from the days of Pong on a vic20  (Yea I had one)   Still the latest technology is not available to everyone and even for those who have the hardware, the time required  and ease of use are other barriers that stop us from participating.

On Sunday, I took a field trip to Old Fairhaven just south of Bellingham  . We were hanging around the Village bookstore and the few places that weren't closed for easter.

The toy stores were closed but I stopped to admire the window displays- felt like I had gone back in time .  What struck me was "delightfulness" of the toys in the store,  Brightly colored children's garden tools.  A carved wooden toy house right out of lord of the rings and lots of boxes with models, board games and science experiments.

Got me to thinking about how we can capture that wonderful sense of delight and discovery that seems to be missing online.   Our attention spans online are very short and I find that I am always in a hurry.

I guess one way is to keep them simple and to encourage the user to slow down and think about what is being presented.

Therese
In reply to Therese Weel

Re: The Value Of Serious Games

by Margaret Corbit -

You might find "The Feng Shui of Virtual Worlds" by Mike Heim a good read on design issues. http://crossings.tcd.ie/issues/1.1/Heim/ 

Cheers,

Margaret

In reply to Margaret Corbit

Re: The Value Of Serious Games

by Therese Weel -
Yes Margaret, A good read indeed!

I am adding a few snippets from the original document.  by Michael Heim


Snippet 1 describes the move from a user using a tool to the user creating new tools to fashion their own reality which is readily apparent to most in virtual worlds. 

The attention of the user is not focused on ‘this tool out here.’ Rather, the attention is wrapped by a fluid medium that calls for participatory involvement. As the user configures and customizes software tools, the tools themselves cease to be ‘designed tools’ and become increasingly ‘tools for designing.’ The user applies the flexibility of software tailored to the task at hand. The subject of knowledge (the user) and the object studied tend to merge through usage and customization. Through deepening involvement, the participant fades out as a ‘user’ or detached tool-wielder and increasingly adapts to the environment as participant. The environment becomes ‘my own.’

Snippet 2 was from a section that was interesting (and news) to me.  How a group's conversation and interactions changed in the virtual worlds depending on the virtual environment they were in.  The "atmospherics" of the place. 

Many aspects of flow affect events in the CyberForum. The impact of flow on the events first became apparent when the Forum ran up against stops or blockages in the flow. These blocks became a problem to be solved by the team. Over time, the team found ways to re-establish flow in problem areas, which then confirmed the initial intuition that this or that aspect of virtual environments held important issues of flow. This paper looks at four aspects of flow:

  • flow of words with visuals
  • flow of atmospherics
  • flow of group dynamics
  • flow of virtual with physical architecture (avatecture)