NMC 2006: Creating Games for Education Revealed

There was a group of 8 people who attended a pre-conference workshop to make games. For the first day they learned about game theory, the second day they worked on narratives, and on the third day they created games. This session gave the four teams the opportunity to present their games.

The games created for today are at a stage where the concept (why, how, and what) are there. They could be presented to granting agencies or anyone that might be able to invest in the creation of the game.

Team One: Med-Assist

A case-simulation for medical professionals.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to apply recall conceptual knowledge in order to complete tasks
  • Participants will demonstrate ability to analyze symptoms and interpret tests in order to determine diagnosis and treat the patient
  • Participants will be able to detect faulty decision-making
  • Participants will be able to manage complications when they arise
  • Participants will be able t understand the importance of effective communication

Structure of Playing Experience

Symptoms > Order Test > Is it Correct? > Patient Lives or Dies

It's a race against time. The model is simplistic, but could be more complex. Specialists or other kinds of care could be added to the base path.

Game Patterns

  • Time
  • Enemies – Medical Complications
  • Clues
  • Deadly Traps – Miscommunication
  • Helper
  • Score

Cases and Medical Scenarios

  • Cases could be randomly assessed
  • Variables include
    • Diagnosis
    • Symptoms
    • Patient History
    • Tests
    • Interpretation of the Tests
    • Treatment / Management

The team then walked us through a sample journey of the game and an alternative game path.

Team Two: Cryptyx

One of the things they tried to figure out was what could they create. One of the presenters teaches instructional technology and information technology. So they wanted to create a game addressing a learning issue. For web design students, learning programming can be difficult (learning decision making, branching and loops). They presented Edgar Dale's Cone of Learning.

Students learn to code by actually writing code, not by listening to it. WWeb design students are visually oriented but probably have some game experience.

So they wanted to create a puzzle game like Tetris or Sudoko. Think Da Vinci Code, they urged us. There is a device called a Cryptyx that if you solve the puzzle you can access the contents.

Their game interface uses a Cryptyx, using symbols on a timeline which shows the data flow. If they program correctly, they move to the next stage. You get a score based on how quickly you got to the correct sequence. You can die up to so many times.

Team Three: Face-the-Case

Software developer at JMU. This is already sold for IMLS to help nursing & social work students learn about health literacy. It's a quest-based game. The student collects health literacy skills and uses them to solve a large set of realistic health and human services case studies.

Game world will have skill shops, a collaboration café, and more. The speaker presented a game board sketch, and told us that players can create their own avatars. There will be skill dollars (for buying skills) bling bucks (for avatars).

He ran over the case studies and game activities and events (the presentation was getting hurried now). There will be mini-games within the game to develop skills – this part is still being fleshed out.

The project is funded for about $100K. The program will be Flash-based and use SQLServer 2005 Express (it's free). They'll be working with JMU's office for assessment & research to see how effective the game may be. If this is succesful, they' use the game for their Information Literacy course, which is required of all students at JMU.

Team Four: Quantum Leap Redeux [sic]

A mobile, multi-generational adventure and mystery game. The game is played in the real world using a handheld device.

The game is a guided discovery of historical artifacts related to the founding principles of American democracy and the evolving American identity. The game involves time-travel to solve a problem in their own time.

The game has 3 levels: 8-12 year olds, high school students and college or discipline-specific students. There are time travelers, science officers (working the mobile device) and cultural specialists. This allows different players to have different roles so people can choose an aspect that keeps them interested.

In game characters include docents, museum guard and random museum visitors who share information at varying levels of quality.

The game should work with an off-the-shelf PDA. The paths are semi-controlled, but the paths are not rails, even for very young children. This makes the game easier to replay. Sub-goals compliment goals by providing positive feedback along the way, especially for someone who will be unable to complete the game.

The game design pattern was quite complex.


Most of the groups are working to create these games beyond what was done in the workshop. These all seem to have applications beyond any one discipline, so the game models could be used by anyone.

To differentiate games from simulations, Ruben said that a key aspect of any game is that the player has a stake. There is a winning condition and a losing condition.

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