Digital Zombies is a scalable and interactive game designed to address significant needs in student preparedness and digital literacy. Independent research activities are broken into a series of smaller tasks that follow sequentially in a historical narrative around a fictional “digital zombie outbreak.” Students interact with physical and digital built-environments provoking interactions with people, physical and digital or digitized library materials, search engines, and social media. The game ties libraries into a specific course curriculum, making them an integral part of the exploration of digital narratives, collaborative and individual writing, and also hybrid research methods, all of which successfully engages students beyond the traditional course curriculum. Over 1000 students have participated in this game across the University of California system.
This project asks how adult video game players encounter an unfamiliar game for the first time. Players were invited to participate in a recorded gameplay session and share their reflections on their first encounter with Portal, a first-person puzzle video game. Players reviewed and commented on their gameplay footage immediately following their session. These sessions were analyzed, comparing how different players encountered the game, how they identified challenges, and how they created solutions to those challenges. There was a noteworthy diversity in how different players encountered Portal with trends emerging amongst players with similar expertise. There were differences in times to completion, puzzle comprehension, and assessment of game mechanics when comparing novice and expert players. Novice players faced considerable barriers to entry.
This course is offered annually at the University of Victoria's Digital Humanities Summer Institute. We combine treatments of game criticism, game theory and game development toward understanding how to approach this medium as an object of research. We discuss games broadly, which includes table top games, board games, video games, card games, etc. Part of the course provides instruction about creating a playable prototype game as part of game-first research -- ultimately combining theoretical aspects of game studies with the practical application of game building for both newcomers and experienced game scholars. Our focus in the course is to learn how games are structured and how they function, so prototypes are built with scissors, paper, and ideas to keep the focus on playtesting and iterative design.
This presentation highlights the invisible rules and restrictions of video games. These restrictions are an important consideration when using games for education or learning. Rules and play seem like contradictory concepts. Rules are synonymous with control, restriction, and boundaries while play is synonymous with fun, creativity, and imagination. Despite this contradiction, all games have rules. In video games, rules shape the experience of play. As player communities adopt games, they introduce practices and challenge the existing rule sets. This leads to patches and modifications by developers to balance the game, meeting the needs of the player community as the game develops. However, aside from a few instances (Garry’s Mod, Minecraft), players rarely have direct control over the rules in video games. When using games for education or learning purposes, developers must consider these boundaries and restrictions for players.
Root of Play is a card game to help game designers create prototypes in a short amount of time. The game is designed for participants at various levels of expertise. Root of Play combines the action of game playing and game making into a structured activity. It helps players realize the complex theoretical components of games and gameplay through an active design and play testing process. Root of Play is structured around the concept of creativity through constraint. Players are given specific and clear parameters for game design and develop prototype games based on these constraints. These operate in two ways: 1. limited number of cards for idea generation; 2. limited amount of time. Within 30 minutes, players develop and pitch a game concept which can then be expanded into a playable prototype.