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INF541

INF541: Critical Reflection

Before studying INF541, my use and understanding of games and game-based learning was limited and I had little inclination to use it in my teaching. The unit has helped me to develop a reflective and nuanced view of game-based learning that has allowed me to understand how it can be implemented to aid learning.

The initial step was understanding the principles that contribute to a good game. Depending on the framework, the principles of digital-games vary but generally consist of escapism, fun, individual or social interaction, sound, secrets, guessing, anticipation, winning, losing, rules and objectives (Perrotta, Featherstone, Ashton, & Houghton, 2013; Turkay, Hoffman, Kinzer, Chantes, & Vicari, 2014; Wood, Griffiths, Chappell, & Davies, 2004). After finding a framework that resonates, I found it useful to research how different games make use of these principles, before finally moving on to designing games with an understanding of why you are using certain design features.

In reflecting on what games can bring to education, Bronwyn Stuckey’s presentation helped to develop my understanding. Stuckey argued that games shouldn’t be used to teach but as an “invitation to tinker” and to reflect on a concept. Digital-games giving learners the freedom to play and explore was a concept that was reiterated throughout the course. That freedom to explore, gave students agency and the freedom to fail and try again gave them confidence to try new things.

The course has helped me to appreciate that digital-games can (and often should) be based on a wider array of learning theories than just behaviourism. Amy’s forum post of Errant Signal’s critique of gamification was a helpful starting point in understanding that game principles cannot just be thrown against any problem to provide improved learning. The temptation of relying on behaviouristic approaches to motivate users can be counterproductive to learning as the users only focus on winning the game (Furdu, Tomozei, & Kose, 2017). However, as Carleen and Mitchell commented in the forum, this is a negative perspective of gamification and when the principles are utilised correctly, they can benefit learning through motivation (Dicheva, Dichev, Agre, & Angelova, 2015). This use of arbitrary rewards to persuade players to do something that is not in players’ best interest was raised a number of times in my research for INF541, in this Extra Credits video, the narrator summarises that by understanding the tricks used by game developers you should be better able to spot them and avoid falling in to the traps, thereby improving your gaming experience. For me, this warning was an important lesson that players will know (either implicitly or explicitly) when something is not fun and that gaming principles are being used to exploit them.

INF5410 introduced me to the concept of remediation, the depiction of one medium in another. Once I was aware of remediation, I was aware of it everywhere. The game I chose for my game-review, Simulacra, heavily relied on remediating the plot devices from horror films through a faux-mobile phone experience. I was excited by the prospect of remediation of Amy’s and Mitchell’s game projects. I utilised remediation in my final game project remediating television news, digital currency and social media apps.

Remediation cartoonSource: https://theaveragepenguin.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/remediation/

One aspect of game-based learning that I would like to study further is the accessibility and inclusiveness of games. Attempting to play Ingress highlighted to me the difficulties of playing certain games (even for a fit, middle-class, white male). Although every student will experience games differently, they all should be able to play the game and explore the concept the teacher is trying to convey (Dodge et al., 2008). Part of my future studies will be exploring how games can be made accessible to students.

Prior to INF541, I considered game-based learning to be interesting but not something that I would ever use. The course has shown me how beneficial digital game-based learning can be. I have learned how game-design principles and desired learning outcomes can be combined using the wide-range of game creation tools to create exciting learning opportunities.

 

Bibliography

Dicheva, D., Dichev, C., Agre, G., & Angelova, G. (2015). Gamification in education: a systematic mapping study. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 18(3), 75.

Dodge, T., Barab, S., Stuckey, B., Warren, S., Heiselt, C., & Stein, R. (2008). Children’s sense of self: Learning and meaning in the digital age. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 19(2), 225.

Furdu, I., Tomozei, C., & Kose, U. (2017). Pros and cons gamification and gaming in classroom. ArXiv Preprint ArXiv:1708.09337.

Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Ashton, H., & Houghton, E. (2013). Game-based Learning: Latest Evidence and Future Directions (NFER Research Programme: Innovation in Education). Slough: NFER. Retrieved from https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/GAME01/GAME01_home.cfm

Turkay, S., Hoffman, D., Kinzer, C. K., Chantes, P., & Vicari, C. (2014). Toward Understanding the Potential of Games for Learning: Learning Theory, Game Design Characteristics, and Situating Video Games in Classrooms. Computers in the Schools, 31(1–2), 2–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/07380569.2014.890879

Wood, R. T. A., Griffiths, M. D., Chappell, D., & Davies, M. N. O. (2004). The Structural Characteristics of Video Games: A Psycho-Structural Analysis. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1089/109493104322820057

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INF541

INF541: Social Media Tycoon Walkthrough and Game Link

You can play Social Media Tycoon here (you will be prompted for the name you would like to called by the game and the name of your app, you can keep these as the default if you prefer).

You can watch my walk-through of the game here or below:

 

 

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INF541

INF541: Context and Rationale for Game Based Learning Project

Social Media Tycoon is a game-based learning project with the goal of improving awareness of the perils of social media among public servants.

Context

We live in a world with ubiquitous social media, where there is a platform for almost every niche. Interested in books? Then goodreads is the social media for you. Interested in sharing photos? Then Instagram has you covered. The common theme among these social media platforms is that they are free. However, the companies behind these apps are amongst the biggest in the world, how can that happen? Most users have some understanding of the concept of ‘if it is free then your data is the product’, the business model that most social media networks employ but most users do not understand what that means for the privacy of their data (Fiesler & Hallinan, 2018). To address the gap in knowledge, Social Media Tycoon will allow the player takes the reins of a social media company.

The game aims to be beneficial to the Public Service by reducing potential political embarrassment caused by inadvertent releases of information. For the player, the aim is to reduce the risk of them oversharing information on social media, thereby reducing the risk of personal embarrassment and potential harm.

Rationale

Self-reflection by users is more likely to occur if they have a chance to look ‘behind the curtain’ of a social media company (Gee, 2003; Shklovski, Mainwaring, Skúladóttir, & Borgthorsson, 2014). Normally, users only use social media from their own perspective and may not question what they are sharing and where that data may end up (Fiesler, Lampe, & Bruckman, 2016). The game aims to change this lack of reflection by giving users an understanding of how social media companies make money and how they treat your data depending on the company’s location.

Game Design Principles

The game-design principles are based on the framework of Perrotta et. al (2013). This framework provides clear definitions and detailed research.

The game rules mean the player must make decisions that will positively or negatively impact one of four scales: account balance, privacy, app desirability and users. To win, the player must get their account balance to a certain level. The simplicity of the rules will help users to understand the game quickly and is suited to the relatively short time-frame users will have to play the game during in-work training.

The game’s win-state is clear but challenging. In order to achieve the goal, players will have to make choices that sacrifice the ‘privacy’ of their pretend user-base, something that they may be against their real-world moral compass triggering greater metacognition (Gee, 2003).

The game’s authenticity comes from its setting of a social media company and the use of an adventure style interface. Although some of the decisions the players can choose may be a little absurd or direct the concepts and outcomes of the decisions are based on real-world examples of social media companies.

Despite the games reliance on real world examples the drive to make as much money as possible allows the player to abandon the need to consider others in the pursuit of financial gain. This fictional approach is aimed at getting the player in to the mindset of those that value financial profit above all (Bogost, 2011).

The game aims to make balancing the various scoreboard items challenging but possible. Many of the decisions that increase income, reduce privacy. When privacy gets too low, the player is punished by a reduction in income. The complex requirement to balance income, privacy, coolness and user numbers means that users cannot just use a ‘first order optimal strategy’ to win. To make the game enticing the user will not be punished immediately and will often make a number of decisions before experiencing any punishment. This is to ensure the player can develop an understanding of the game and a desire to keep playing.

The game does not have an inbuilt social element due to the time constraints and limits of the chosen platform. However, players would be playing the game in the same room giving them the opportunity to discuss and bond over shared experience.

The game aims to introduce enjoyment and fun through comical choices that make the player laugh. The goal is to balance realistic decisions and the absurd to ensure that the user is made to feel safe (Bogost, 2011). In some user choices, the outcome is based on chance. This provides a degree of uncertainty and unpredictability to the game as even if you make the same decision you may end up with a different outcome.

Intrinsic motivation is provided by regular score updates. Notifications provide players with immediate and constructive feedback, helping them to understand the consequences of their decisions and refine their strategy (Klimmt & Hartmann, 2006).

Players can customise their experience by adding their name and the name of the app. The narrative of the game is non-linear, allowing players to choose their own path through the game, giving them agency in the game-play (Perrotta, Featherstone, Ashton, & Houghton, 2013). The win-state is based on income level but that can be achieved in one of many combinations of choices allowing the This game to becan be replayed with different outcomes.

Bibliography

Bogost, I. (2011). How to do things with videogames. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Fiesler, C., & Hallinan, B. (2018). We Are the Product: Public Reactions to Online Data Sharing and Privacy Controversies in the Media. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (p. 53). ACM.

Fiesler, C., Lampe, C., & Bruckman, A. S. (2016). Reality and perception of copyright terms of service for online content creation. In Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (pp. 1450–1461). ACM.

Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. Computers in Entertainment (CIE), 1(1), 20–20.

Klimmt, C., & Hartmann, T. (2006). Effectance, self-efficacy, and the motivation to play video games. In P. Vorderer & J. Bryant (Eds.), Playing video games: Motives, responses, and consequences (pp. 133–145). New York; London: Routledge.

Perrotta, C., Featherstone, G., Ashton, H., & Houghton, E. (2013). Game-based Learning: Latest Evidence and Future Directions (NFER Research Programme: Innovation in Education). Slough: NFER. Retrieved from https://www.nfer.ac.uk/publications/GAME01/GAME01_home.cfm

Shklovski, I., Mainwaring, S. D., Skúladóttir, H. H., & Borgthorsson, H. (2014). Leakiness and creepiness in app space: Perceptions of privacy and mobile app use. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 2347–2356). ACM.

 

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INF541

INF541: Game Proposal – Social Media Tycoon

Social Media Tycoon Logo
Logo created using Canva

Game Title

Social Media Tycoon

Target Audience

Public Servants

Narrative

You are starting a new social media platform. Your goal will be to get your balance above 1 million bitcoin over a set number of turns. Each decision you make will impact one of four scales:

  • Bitcoin balance (positively and negatively impacted by privacy decisions that impact advertising revenue, number of users
  • User privacy (driven by the policies you adopt, e.g. Selling user data to advertisers)
  • Number of users (driven by advertising spend
  • App “coolness”  (driven by investment in research and development plus random events such as celebrity endorsement)

Platform:

Twine

Twine ScreenshotMy storyboard from my initial experimentation with Twine

Twine is a tool for making interactive games (e.g. Adventure games) in the form of web pages.

Learning Objects & Student Created Products

  • Students will understand the business model of “free” social media.
  • Student will understand the risks of sharing personal information on social media.

Examples of rewards include:

  • Positive media buzz (if coolness is high)
  • Teens give your app a nickname and it starts to take hold (if coolness is high)
  • Venture capital firm invests (if users are high)

Examples of punishments include:

  • Privacy breach discovered (if privacy is too low)
  • Young people switching to another app (if coolness is too low)
  • App being shut down by totalitarian government (if privacy is too great)

Examples of random events include:

  • Your co-founder is says something very inappropriate and the app loses investors
  • Your data center is flooded