The Games for Learning Institute: Research on Design : 10am – rm133 (summary)
arrived 5 minutes late.

G4LIThree G4LI speakers. Ken talking first (looks like ted raimi), about how we (schools) usually try to make games with no idea how, and thus threw/blew a bunch of money. So his group turned to science(!). …dropped a game name, but i didn’t catch it (mac was still booting up). check slides? (numbers in circle… factoring?).

Talking about eye trackers. shows horrific old torture device to prove kids won’t wear. then talks about the built into tv solution (likely the one those rude Australian bastards invented. “Tobii“). claims you can’t get these for less than $20,000. He’s unaware of cheaper solutions, classic (I recall Arrington Research selling one for just a couple grand that used black and white imagers. Wonder if he’d take it seriously…).

“Rosland Picard at MIT” is studying some strange form of tactile game input, which is easier to track. Was this the thing you sit on?… maybe it was the “Affective Carpet“.

“The hardest part of any learning game is teaching something that can be used outside the game.”

His slide shows a crude graphic of stick man on rocket, wearing beanie, with a carrot dangling. He describes a structure: game mechanic is wrapped in graphics, which is wrapped in narrative… which is wrapped in a goal? … you need things along the way to tell you how you’re doing on path to goal. “extrinsic rewards” are points and ranking (moving forward). “intrinsic rewards” are internal skill improvement (moving up). The more intrinsic motivation, the less extrinsic is needed. Your whole goal is to connect first step (now labeled “what’s in the player’s head” rather than “game mechanic”…). Hmmf. I didn’t follow his zany model.

Mentions “maximal flow” surface (between frustration and boredom… then he drops a crazy long name “csikczen…”). (amazon) Talks about how games let you fail repeatedly, but education fears this. so we bounce between too hard and too easy. notes that game designers are aware of this at a deeper level, which is the rhythm of swapping between different styles of challenges. (jump a pit. save a princess. solve a puzzle.)

Talks about “School of One”- seeking improved tech solutions to allow teachers more time to help in the ways they’re best suited.

Talks about Pragmatic Solutions -donating army tech. (W: is this a renamed failed biometric company? mention to NaturalPoint? … maybe not. they have a server statistics gathererINATORtador called “Leverage”. … I’m not clear on relevance. Sounds like something time could be wasted on. i guess this is all about “research”… (searching… and re-searching… and searching again… )

Katherine Isbister takes over.
She interviewed game developers last year, because they don’t publish papers. Preparing a paper for Human Computer Interaction conference in April this year (which she can get us, if we contact her?). … (this one? In July)

“You should probably get rid of the word ‘engaging’ and stick with the word ‘fun’”

Almost all speakers have said “all games are already about learning.” The data sticks because games inject emotional reactions at same time as the data learning. (BF1942 is offered an example. The panzer tank rumble makes it a scary/fun memorable experience.) – She mentions some clips will be up on website (?). She notes 2 games which are up on their site (prime beef and ecoSim)

? – Q: as tons of different schools and agencies create tons of games 9and papers). how would you recommend people find them? could there be some central ranking? or ranking by different needs/rubrics?
A: … this group seems to be more about identifying the building blocks. just hoping others can think up uses for them. and/or use them to argue for their research

Jan Plass takes over.

Talks research goals. they wish to identify design patterns. Also interested in how player characteristics #$%! everything up. So they develop measures for these different characteristics (w: really? do think think this barf of data will ever prove useful?).

He’s racing through a lot of stuff. different learning methods. research methods. etc. He probably feels he’s run out of time. see if we can get slides?

mentions “playtech” by colleen macklin. a system for tracking data? or experimental bull*^@? I can’t find “PlayTech” anywhere online, just PetLab. (Well, there’s a casino gaming company called PlayTech. sigh)

Keeps mentioning eye tracking like it means anything. ‘boogedy boogedy crazy tech validates my research! cower in fear of it!’ one slide shows mysterious little item called “Moviebox Ultimate or PVR” (crappy old tech!)

Mentions Rapunsel Research – getting girls to program. Doesn’t Mention “Alice”. sooo. are these people in a bubble? hard to ignore The Last Lecture, no?

Says they’ve ‘discovered’ that simulations teach better than direct instruction. (did i hear that right? or did he slip in “we found the complete opposite”)

Kids like to build things. Construction is fun. Strong narrative provides sufficient incentive to solve hard puzzles.
mentions “tribal wars”. as example of not needing graphics.

ok, they mention how they use eye tracking to see where novices focus – versus experts. novices click everything. experts just use the tool. I guess they needed to back up this basic assumption? this is all about creating arguments for “games can teach, for REALZ”?

A game needs to provide mechanisms/moments for ‘self regulation’, where you evaluate how you’re doing and maybe change your approach. but how to measure this reliably? (they currently just ask everyone how they felt afterward and hope they’re telling the truth)

briefly mentions using Goblin XNA (open source version?). Mentions Games for Change Festival in NYU, on May 27. (NYU.EDU and

at some point someone mentioned :super transformation” Apparently it won a G4LI award. and requires a video to understand how to play…

here is an alternate set of notes, covering the same lecture.

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