Use or Be Used: How the Extreme States of Free Fall and Control Lead to Game Based Learning

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Through a fast-paced visual analysis of a number of historical casual and serious games as well as three projects we are currently working on, we will examine teachable moments as learning through repeated testing of states of extreme lack of control (falling) and super control (god-like moments) and the strategies necessary to move between these states. If play is a life long human activity used to explore and understand our world, there is no need to create a distinction between a “serious game” or a “recreational game.” In our work we aim to bring learning and play seamlessly together, without artificial educational structures, to create activities where "learning by doing" is the embedded challenge. We will also show how we encourage students to consciously use both extremes of this definition of play and critically reflect on recreational games through the process of making their own games.

Keywords: Play, Game Design, Experiential Learning
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Use or Be Used

Jay Laird

Assistant Director of Game Design and Academic Specialist, Digital Media 
Multimedia Studies, Northeastern University

Boston, MA, USA

Jay Laird is the founder and lead game designer at Metaversal Studios, a Boston-based independent game development company that designs and publishes original board, card, and computer games. He is also the Assistant Director of Game Design and an Academic Specialist in Digital Media and Multimedia Studies at Northeastern University. He has designed educational games and creativity modules for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New England Aquarium, and DJ Spooky, among others. No explanation except insanity can be found for the other careers he keeps up on the side, including writing movies (The Strangler’s Wife) and comics (Star Wars Tales: Do or Do Not). In his spare hours — when he should be sleeping — Jay writes about technology for various publishers and teaches programming, design, and animation at Northeastern University. More about Jay can be found at his web site.

Ann McDonald

Assistant Professor, Department of Art+Design
Multimedia Studies, Northeastern University

Boston, MA, USA

Ann McDonald is an assistant professor in design and multimedia studies at Northeastern University in Boston. Her research investigates collective participation at the intersection of digital and physical environments. Ongoing creative projects include educational games and interactive projects with social relevance that can best be achieved through interdisciplinary collaboration. Exhibit and interactive design work for The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The New England Aquarium, The National Health Sciences Consortium and the American Society of Plant Biology have offered wide audiences access to complex topics. Her interactive experiments explore the relationship between narrative and an information space. Her collaborations with Jay Laird, students, and her eight-year-old twins have pushed her into the world of games. She studied at the Institute of Design and then earned a B.F.A. from the University of Washington, beginning her career as an information and environmental graphic designer and creating an award winning body of work. Subsequently she received a M.F.A. in Graphic Design from Yale University.

Ref: T08P0329