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Transformational Games

8 Sep

A great couple of clips from Jesse Schell… he not only understands this games but he’s also got a smart handle on education – ex Disney Imagineer, Game Design expert and now Professor at Carnegie Mellon, Schell carries some clout when talking about Games Based Learning (GBL)

What I enjoyed most about these two talks is that he backs up what I was trying to achieve through the QR Treasure Hunts that I designed for my Masters project. He talks about putting the teacher in the position of overseer, or ‘Dungeon Master’ as he puts it. In Role Playing Games there was always an extra player who wasn’t part of the main game who had to oversee the game play. In the games I created ‘I’ was the Dungeon Master (Role Playing Games were even part inspiration which was reflected in the first game’s name – NEoN Knights!), but when pitching ideas to teachers the role of overseer was their’s; they would take my tools and game ideas and populate them with their own content, map out their own courses, decide the parameters of the game, etc.

Talking of parameters, Schell also talks about how difficult it is to fit games into school schedules and timetables. This was also something that I had considered… therefore I tested game running times from 5 mins to 5 days and several variations in between. All of them worked in their own way, they just had different dynamics, but dynamics vary for many reasons including what the purpose of the game is. The brief needs to be clear, what do you want the players (students) to achieve… and this is where Schell starts…

Rather than talk about Edu-tainment or Serious Games, Schell coins the term Transformational Games – games that will change the player in some meaningful way. This of course doesn’t happen on it’s own – the outcomes need to be considered so that a route to those outcomes can be designed. This is where the co-design between game designer and educator is essential. I was fortunate enough to have great discussions with the likes of Gary Penn at Denki, Derek Robertson at Learning and Teaching Scotland and Kenji Lamb at JISC RSC NE Scotland. Each (Google them) have an animated passion for games and education and how these two can come together and were a great source of inspiration to what I would go on to do.

So it’s a boost to hear someone like Schell backing up my processes…

Whoa! Maybe he’ll put my name forward to the Imagineers at Disney..!?


Creative Crowd-sourced QR Codes

10 Mar

UPDATE: Today (20 May 2011) i’m at the ‘Open For Education’ Conference – for ‘Open‘ read ‘Open source‘.
I’ll be giving a talk, ‘QReativity – The Mystery of the QR Code’
This post, from back in March might be useful as it contains a brief screen cast of how to create your own QR Code.

All feedback gratefully received!


I’m pleased and excited to announce that my exhibition project SuperFly will be exhibiting at the Games Based Learning conference Game To Learn: Take 2 next Friday and Saturday.

I’m working on a new QR hunt as well as preparing a potential lecture for the event… just in case…

I’ve also decide to try and gather a crowd sourced collection of QRs, called ‘SuperFly QReative’. In many ways these little black and white collections of squares are just about as dull as any contrasting collection of ink or light could be. However, it turns out that the technology that scans them is very forgiving in the way that it reads the information. This means that, should you be so inclined, there is the possibility to get extremely creative with the humble QR and turn it into a thing of even greater beauty! (there are examples on the SuperFly website…)

If you’re unsure about how to make your own #QR.. i’ve made a little video to help!

So, visit SuperFly, send in your modified QRs, and the good news is you only have until next wednesday, 16 March!

So not even time to think about it too much, just do it!

Visit SuperFly for more info! (and please spread the word…)

Fun Inc.

20 Feb

Fun Inc is a book that was recommended to me by Gill Wildman (of ‘Plot’) through the Master blog when I posted my original project proposal (see ‘What’s The Story?’ section).

I must admit to not finding it out immediately but the recommendation was supported about a month later through a @brainpicker (#ff) twitter post.. so I ordered on the spot and wasn’t disappointed.

As well as being an invaluable source for my project I have also chosen to review it for this semester’s Design Writing module. So, for now I’ll say that I’m enjoying it and that a full review will follow in due course.

A happy coincidence… if I can call it that, I suppose it was inevitable… through the course of researching his book Chatfield made contact with my key expert, Derek Robertson.

Derek works for Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) in the position of ‘National Advisor for Emerging Technologies in Learning in Scotland’.. the title, he dryly remarks, won’t fit on his business card!

I was fortunate enough to meet up with Derek in December and learn more about his determination to demonstrate the value of learning through contexts most of us view as entertainment.

Derek Robertson (left) 'GBL Hero'

In Fun Inc, Chatfield states, ‘It’s largely thanks to him that Scotland now leads the world in the emerging field of what Robertson calls “games-based learning (GBL)”.’

I met up with Derek again on Thursday and amongst other things we discussed a couple of exiting developments… In March’s of this year a GBL conference is to take place in Dundee, co-hosted by Dundee College and Abertay University; and also within the 2 weeks, the first ‘International Journal of Games Based Learning’ was published. More on both in a future post.

It seems to be the perfect time to be working and researching in the area of GBL and I’m convinced that there are opportunities to do something that could have a genuine impact and be of value to the subject.

Impact, value ‘and’ Fun..? …just doesn’t seem right..!

You can listen to both Derek Robertson and Tom CHatfield talking about GBL here:

Problem. Solved?

31 Jan

So, today we were looking at visualisation of research and creative problem solving.

I’ve already had two great chats with key specialists to do with my project. Before Christmas I met up with Derek Robertson of Consolarium (Learning and Teaching Scotland) and just last week I got together with Gary Penn of Denki. I am extremely fortunate. Given their individual histories, experience and contributions to their fields, I would have traveled significantly further than six miles to speak to these fellas! However, as it was they both work in Dundee. I hope to quiz each of them further.

So the visualisation session was really valuable and I hope to put ‘lessons learned’ to the test by working on my own spin on the ‘knowledge swatch’ using notes from these two meetings and also transfer my NEoN journal into swatches also.

I can also see how the knowledge swatches would work for presenting ideas to clients, but I think i’ll leave elaborating on that one until I’ve actually done it.

The Problem Solving session was really useful as well. For some time i’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on a set of IDEO cards; just talk of their very existence inspired me to include the ‘design tool’ element to my own project. So, today was the day and I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t disappointed.

I need to own a set.