Friday, December 4, 2009

The missing pieces...

Competing Products
No other AR game exists to teach students campus safety. AR games in general are still a new technology.
The closest product is case study simulations of how to handle student behavior such as this one from Penn State Although this training is for a different audience and a different topic; it is similar in how it uses scenarios to introduce an issue. However, there is no user interaction.
Motivational Issues
In order to motivate students I am using parts of Gee’s (2007) learning and gaming principles construct to consider how to motivate learner-players.
The following list summarizing my thinking at this point:
1.    Co-design – players are active agents in interpreting the narrative, thus game creates a sense of ownership through participation
2.    Identity – an integral component of AR games is the ability for players to take on an identity offered in the game. In this case, it is an identity of investigator. Gee (2007) and Dunleavy et al (2009) see this as the identity principle.
3.    Distributed knowledge – players are not actually getting mugged, but they are participating through the use of the AR tool in an environment that simulates the knowledge context (Dunleavy et al also mentions this point within the notion of socio-cultural learning and the interaction of “pedagogy…which knowledge is grounded in a setting and distributed across a community”, p. 19)
4.    Well-ordered problems – the game presented here scaffolds the knowledge within each action point allowing them to construct their own understanding of the safety rules
5.    Pleasantly frustrating – my vision is not to have the game seem too easy, hand feeding the players the answers, but giving them clues to figure out a solution collaboratively
6.    Just in time information – by using the AR app to direct learners to various places and prompt them to pay attention to a point in the narrative they should be able to easily flow through the game
7.    Fish tank – the narrative is meant to be realistic, but yet controls variables to help direct learning attention
8.    Sandbox – the first to second action point eases players into the game system without the risk of making a game based mistake
9.    Systems thinking – the system in the sense is the process of input (character doing actions) and output (being mugged). It is up to the player to find contributing factors caught between the process
10. Meaning as action – no reasonable person wants the experience of being mugged, but a powerful way to gain the experience is to study how it can happen. This game is meant to give concrete meaning to the abstract experience
Another motivational point that underlies the game is the choice of characters and the use of a somewhat realistic narrative. My intention is to motivate players by having them experience through the proxy of a similar person to themselves, the wrong choices that are made and how those choices are easily justified. The design of the game is as much about the design of any instructional message that consider variation and curiosity, relevance to the learner, an appropriate challenge level, interesting picture, and a sense of cognitive dissonance (Fleming & Levie, 1993).
As an affordance of AR technology and using the opportunity to engage in a game in players’ own words, the high fidelity between real and fiction AR provides learners with a deeper learning experience than just pure information. Klopfer (2008) sees this process as “deep and powerful while staying casual” (p 225).
Design Process
At this point in my design process I have been thinking more conceptual than practical, but the process has begun to gel with this exercise. At first, I sketched out what an AR game on security would look like as a role playing game, but quickly became bogged down with details of the game system. I determined that game design, as an exercise in putting theory to practice, should be about developing a simple product to demonstrate an understanding of the theory over trying to be complex and flashy. This decision freed me up to work out a simple gaming system with a small number of elements – 3 characters, map action points, and a loose narrative.

My next step was then to identify the knowledge base that would feed into the game design. The Syracuse University’s public safety website provided a short movie and literature on campus safety, which provided a few simple rules. I then took those a few of those rules and developed parts of the Betty narrative considering how each action point can be a lesson.
At this point in the process, I would like to further review the literature on AR games and motivation in design, to help me tweek the game’s elements. The example narrative is just the first iteration of Betty. The other character will need the same design and development process before I would consider this wireframe ‘complete’.
Dunleavy, M., Dede, C., & Mitchell, R. (2009). Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. Journal of Science Education Technology, 18, 7-22. DOI: 10.1007/s10956-008-9119-1.

Fleming, M. & Levie, W. H. (1993). Instructional message design: Principles from the behavioral and cognitive sciences. NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Gee, J. P. (2007). Good Video Game + Good Learning. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Klopfer, E. (2008). Augmented Learning: Research and Design of Mobile Educational Games. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

No comments: