Hubbub has gone into hibernation.

Learning Lab metagame work in progress

We have entered a new phase in the Learn­ing Lab project. We start­ed off by mak­ing games to elic­it expe­ri­ences which could lead to cer­tain insights. These kinds of games are usu­al­ly called “seri­ous games”, though we kind of dis­like the term as it con­tains some­thing of a con­tra­dic­tion: hav­ing fun while being seri­ous. In a sense, all games are seri­ous. We pre­fer the term “applied games”: apply­ing the dis­ci­pline of game design to address real-world issues or con­vey mes­sages.

I real­ly believe this can work.

When some­one does some­thing while play­ing a game he actu­al­ly does so because he choos­es to him­self. The mes­sage that is ‘taught’ will have way more impact than if it were read to him in a lec­ture or in the news or any oth­er pas­sive medi­um. Though this requires reflec­tion by the play­er of some depth. The play­ers need to stop and go: “wait a minute…”. This moment of reflec­tion is what some games Wieger and I came up with lacked. Wether reflec­tion should be part of the actu­al game­play can be debat­ed. But either way, the “mes­sage” was there, some­times it just wasn’t dis­cov­ered because there was no time for reflec­tion.

Now we’re work­ing in a dif­fer­ent direc­tion, or fur­ther down the line, how­ev­er you want to look at it. At first we made games that would facil­i­tate an expe­ri­ence which could be reflect­ed upon for a “mes­sage”. Now we set out to make a sys­tem which would facil­i­tate the reflec­tion of a pre­vi­ous­ly gained expe­ri­ence. Got it?

So far we’ve been look­ing at dif­fer­ent ways to approach this, get the right work­flow going. We weren’t too keen on let­ting go of our expe­ri­ence-focused design approach. We were wor­ried we might end up mak­ing some­thing that wasn’t any fun. But even­tu­al­ly we relaxed and got going.

What we’re work­ing on is a num­ber of play­ful addi­tions to the course’s inter­nal blog sys­tem, that will sur­face the val­ue being cre­at­ed by the Learn­ing Lab par­tic­i­pants.

We’ve made some progress mak­ing flow­charts, wire­frames, mock­ups, badges and pink col­ored slips of paper with mild­ly porno­graph­ic con­tent. It’s com­ing along quite nice­ly, we’re get­ting the feel of this inter­ac­tion design thing. It’s good to get out of the com­fort zone from time to time and broad­en the hori­zon, though I must con­fess I some­times miss the smell of mon­key poo.

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