Official Session Name: (4pm)
Game mechanics used for learning – Douglas Whatley (CEO Breakaway)

Really interesting talk – exploring how “game mechanics” themselves can (and should) affect the player.

Ecampus Takeaway:
This session really nailed the idea that the ever-popular “jeopardy trivia game” is just a damned training exercise. It doesn’t involve true “learning,” and isn’t really a game! (Boom!)

Raw Notes:
Talks about difference between game’s theme (jeopardy) and game content. Focuses on the example of the jeopardy knock of game, which we see so often in “online learning” environments. A theme like Jeopardy can be fun, but does not represent the true power of gaming. He thinks [trivia exercises] lack real game mechanics, and don’t generate useful metrics. (has a diagram of trivial pursuit, boiled down to just core elements like: move, question, answer, and pie piece)

Mentions borrowing next part from an old GDC talk about Risk vs. Diplomacy as a great example of differing game mechanics. Several are shared, but “simultaneous decisions vs. Taking turns,” And “probabilistic vs. Deterministic combat” stand out.

Mentions diner dash is about time management, patience, awareness, and allowing imperfection. Also about dealing with the pressure of answering questions quickly.
Really good teachers don’t just teach the facts (dates and names of history), but draw connections to modern life. Makes it relevant.

Talking about the game mechanic as the metaphor. Notes all the interesting definitions on wikipedia.

Talks about the military spending all this money on cultural trainers which just teach politeness and protocol, but never actually get to culture.

Gives example of needing to generate a report (in real life, at a previous job), but was meeting with two people in totally separated cultural head-spaces: a Libyan woman whose dad had just stolen her savings in order to buy her a car he thought was best for her, and a recent divorcee who hated women. None of his data and numbers and degrees were going to get this task done. If we can build a game to help people navigate this sort of scenario, we will have something worthwhile.

He calls it repetitive work (content) verses knowledge work.

Doesn’t see way to gauge effectiveness without longitudinal studies of increased effectiveness on the job (example: did health care get better? how can you tell?).

Promotes Credo – an out of print card game. “The game of dueling dogmas.” Great for feeling the pressure of representing various peoples’ beliefs, and allowing for opposing views. [note: Maybe I should remake it as a higher Ed bureaucracy game?]

Promotes Healing Blade – an infectious disease game (they now have an online version). Fantasy battles, using real disease names. Also teaches player not to overuse certain resources.

How do you ensure players get the penicillin lesson?
You can encourage people to think about metaphors, but it is hard to ensure they came down on the instructors side of any discussion.

Someone asks about building in “implicit” and “explicit” training. How to build each in?
He notes he can’t solve that problem. Shares a story about navy game his company made: On the start of your second tour is when most injuries happen. So the game tried to show them the dangers. But weren’t able to gather data to check effectiveness.

Mentions the history of development on Civilization. Most interesting stuff was bandied about before first game came out. Then many ideas were saved for later. Like: setting in the desert was a problem, because people immediately tried to build ethiopia. Religion was taken out completely (and returned later in later sequel).

The idea of limited resources and limited time, and the pressure to make a decision is on of his favored mechanisms. And the nature of multiplayer mechanics can force you to make decisions you normally wouldn’t (notes idea of family counseling being more effective when away from the counselor – so we don’t pander to the counselor)

Ultimately, feel like I missed the point in all the different directions this went… but many interesting thoughts… (transitioned from slide show into open discussion).

Check Back Later For:
… probably no need to check back later.

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