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Lightning Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning: Language Barriers in Serious Game Design Katrin Becker, PhD.

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Presentation on theme: "Lightning Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning: Language Barriers in Serious Game Design Katrin Becker, PhD."— Presentation transcript:

1 Lightning Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning: Language Barriers in Serious Game Design Katrin Becker, PhD

2 2 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Step 1: HUH? Defn: SERIOUS GAMES Digital Games created for purposes other than pure entertainment.

3 3 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning

4 4 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Step 2: about that title... The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug. Mark Twain

5 5 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Step 3: The fundamental thing about human languages is that they can and should be used to describe something; and this something is, somehow, the world. To be constantly and almost exclusively interested in the medium – in spectacle-cleaning – is a result of a philosophical mistake. Sir Karl Popper

6 6 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning What does this have to do with us? 1.Games are hot. 2.Games for Education is now. 3.Game design is interdisciplinary. 4.Definitions are important. 5.My definitions are different from yours. 6.Communication fails if we mean different things while we use the same words.

7 7 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Games are hot.

8 8 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Games for Education is now. Square-Enix has joined with a leading Japanese textbook publisher to make teaching games, EA has licensed the Madden franchise to a coaching software company, Konami has partnered with West Virginia to rollout a DDR-based exercise program. It's not a very big leap to say every major development shop will have at least one serious game under its belt in the near future. Ben Sawyer

9 9 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Educators, Instructional Designers, Game Designers, Level Designers, Artists, Musicians, Writers, Actors,... Each affinity group has its own terminology: –Game vs Simulation Game design is interdisciplinary.

10 10 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Whorf-Sapir and Game Design ‘Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.’... ‘We dissect nature along lines laid down by our native language. Language is not simply a reporting device for experience but a defining framework for it.’ ~ Benjamin Whorf

11 11 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Definitions are important. "We cannot define anything precisely! If we attempt to, we get into that paralysis of thought that comes to philosophers, who sit opposite each other, one saying to the other, Richard Feynman (1963) 'You don't know what you are talking about!' The second one says 'What do you mean by know? What do you mean by talking? What do you mean by you?', and so on."

12 12 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning What is a game? ALL GAMES ARE SIMULATIONS A digital GAME is a real-time system that takes input from user (through peripheral device) which controls a simulation including graphical and audio displays.

13 13 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Digital games require: input systems,input systems, networking systems (possible) Network interfaces,networking systems (possible) Network interfaces, real-time systems,real-time systems, rendering engines,rendering engines, display systems,display systems, sound systems,sound systems, artificial intelligence engines,artificial intelligence engines, asset managers( large amounts of multimedia data),asset managers( large amounts of multimedia data), physics engines,physics engines, front end (which is the only part the user gets to see)front end (which is the only part the user gets to see)

14 14 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning It’s All in How You Look at Things Norton Juster, p , “The Phantom Toll Booth” For instance, from here that looks like a bucket of water,” he said pointing to a bucket of water; “but from an ant’s point of view it’s a vast ocean, from an elephant’s just a cool drink, and to a fish, of course, it’s home. So, you see, the way you see things depends a great deal on where you look at them from. Now, come along and I’ll show you the rest of the forest.” “Of course not,” replied Alec, sitting himself down on nothing. “It’s only mine, and you certainly can’t always look at things from someone else’s Point of View. All Images © Jules Feiffer “Everyone should have his own point of view.” said Alec. “Isn’t this everyone’s Point of View?” asked Tock, looking around curiously.

15 15 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Simulation vs Game You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something. ~ Richard Feynman

16 16 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning My definitions are different from yours. Simulation is an implementation of a model: which could be a mathematical construct that bounds the possible properties and activities of the hypothetical objects being described. Which need not be restricted by the bounds of the known universe – but which still must have integral consistency.

17 17 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Simulations vs. Games according to Gredler (AECT), Alessi & Trollip Simulation = Must be complex & REAL (referred to as fidelity or validity) Participants have defined roles Data-rich environment, where students can execute range of strategies Feedback is in form of changes to situation Realism is essential to effective learning. Learning the model is educational objective. Understanding the model is the goal. Alessi, S. M., & Trollip, S. R. (2001). Multimedia for learning : methods and development (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Gredler, M. E. (2004). Games and Simulations and Their Relationships to Learning. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: Association for Educational Communication s and Technology., Lawrence Erlbaum.

18 18 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Games vs. Simulations according to Gredler (AECT), Alessi & Trollip Game = Games rarely played differently from the way they were intended. Winning will take precedence over experimenting Games are less efficient learning models than other methodologies Educators have negative beliefs about games Educational Game = Learning embedded in game, not part of it Has rules, winning is important Winning should not have random factor for Ed No distracting bells and whistles Include directions in booklets Students shouldn’t loose points when wrong

19 19 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Communication fails if we mean different things while using the same words. Terminology Attributes SameDifferent Same Different Consensus Experts use terminology and concepts in the same way Correspondence Experts use different terminology for the same concepts Conflict Experts use same terminology for different concepts. Contrast Experts use different terminology and different concepts Shaw, M.L.G. & Gaines, B. (1989) Comparing Conceptual Structures

20 20 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Language is by its very nature a communal thing; that is, it expresses never the exact thing but a compromise - that which is common to you, me, and everybody. Language is by its very nature a communal thing; that is, it expresses never the exact thing but a compromise - that which is common to you, me, and everybody. ~Thomas Earnest Hulme, Speculations, 1923

21 21 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished. George Bernard Shaw

22 22 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Suggestions: minimize discipline-specific jargon minimize discipline-specific jargon explain terminology as you understand it and qualify statements explain terminology as you understand it and qualify statements –justifications based on logic help to clarify perspectives but avoid value judgments about the correctness of one view over another refrain from politicsrefrain from politics –unless of course the game being developed is a political one avoid assumptions about shared worldviews and remain in the concreteavoid assumptions about shared worldviews and remain in the concrete do not expect to create converts to your perspective – focus on the shared goal of the project.do not expect to create converts to your perspective – focus on the shared goal of the project. Sengers, P., How-To Tips for Interdisciplinary Communication. in Society for Literature and Science, 1996, (Atlanta, Georgia, 1996).

23 23 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning We need to develop a common language, to be sure, but it would be discouraging to see multidisciplinary synergism turn into yet another monolithic discipline where membership hinges on adherence to dogma.

24 24 © Dr. K.Becker CNIE 2008Lightening Bugs & Spectacle Cleaning Thanks!


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