GAMEDESK CURRICULAR PROGRAMS
Excerpted from Vattel, L. (manuscript in preparation). STEM learning through game-making (working title). Los Angeles, CA: GameDesk Institute.
We are dedicated to the creation of curriculum, software, and activities where authorship (i.e., games, web, interactive, hands-on tinkering), and playable experiences (i.e., field and digital games, embodied learning environments, interactive micro-societies) enable students to make new conceptual discoveries in STEM fields. We seek to create learning experiences that are deeply conceptual, evidence-rich, and meaningful to the learner and that invoke a sense of enthusiasm and play.
The following strategies and processes address the primary goal of the GameDesk Play-Maker Curricular Program to engage young minds and improve their cognition. Fundamentally all aspects of the curriculum focus on “play” or “making” based learning that is designed to provide constant reward and contextualization of content.
“MAKER” GAME AUTHORSHIP PEDAGOGY:
The authorship methodology and approach takes a standards-based curriculum that is traditionally taught in lecture and transforms it into a series of engaging game tools that students learn and use to create exciting and fun games.
Game authorship works as an active and consistently evaluative learning system, in which students create game narratives, use strategic thinking to make choices, solve complex problems, seek content knowledge, receive constant feedback, trouble-shoot, and consider the point of view of others. The learning is engaging, interactive, and constantly creative.
The following section describes the various learning processes that the students undergo and the methodology behind each.
As students learn how to develop their games electronically, students build “game modules” containing embedded math concepts that must be understood, repeated, and critically utilized in order to build each respective game. Math standards such as fractions, algebraic equations, and percentages are part of the process.
The trick is not to force difficult topics onto students but to capture their interest and make them want to learn. For example, in a traditional math class, the concept of ratios would be introduced by lecture and board examples. The students would then complete in-class exercises and homework, as well as exams. In the GameDesk model, they make ‘AirFight’, in which they learn ratios as a game-tool for building the game-timing system and adjusting the plane’s constant velocity. In this model, math is contextualized and given significance, providing a satisfying reward for its completion.
This reward process provides ego gratification at each stage of development. For each concept learned, the students are rewarded with the knowledge and power to create their own environments, characters, and game behaviors. This knowledge and empowerment becomes a major means of helping the student adopt identities as producers, not just consumers, of technology.
As students advance, they are placed in situations where they are forced to troubleshoot their game and fix errors. At this stage, the students must discover, relate, and solve problems. They must logically deduce what is wrong and devise their own solutions. Additionally, they must learn to explain, in their own words, the steps for performing a task so that they can identify where the game went wrong.
Students at advanced stages begin to comprehend the math, programming, and design concepts to a knowledgeable level that enables them to convert, extend, and explain them in written, oral, and applied form. At these stages students become increasingly reflective about what they are doing and more cognizant of the applicable value of the concepts they have learned.
Students continue to build games of increasing complexity until their skill set enables them to create and build their own games.
Self-Designed Games: Synthesis, Ownership, and Self-Expression
At some point the students begin to individually build their own games. An inherent benefit from self-design and implementation is that it requires the student to think critically about the math they employ across an inter-relational “system” of objects and equations to accomplish their design goals. They are now building a structure or pattern from diverse elements and putting the parts together to form a whole, with an emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure.
Behind the bells and whistles, students are designing a complex system to perform specific tasks. They integrate their training from several sources within the previous game modules to solve a series of problems. In order to make the game more fun and “cool”, they need to work to revise and improve the outcomes.
Team Game Development-Strengths and Specialization, Communication, and Collaboration
Strengths are identified during the game module phase and self-made project phase of the program. Students are evaluated and integrated into game teams, each equally balanced according to identified strengths. In the teams, students further discover their own strengths. Some will excel visually and artistically, while others will excel in math and programming. Some will find they are problem solvers, while others find leadership and/or organization is their strength.
In the current game industry, game-making is, for the most part, a collaborative art form. It is an interdisciplinary endeavor involving collaboration from various degrees of focus and specialization. GameDesk seeks to capitalize on that inherent framework as a way for students to get real industry based experiences that require collaboration and effective communication as prerequisites for success. It gives them a chance to belong to something, to create a fraternity or club-like atmosphere, and to learn how to communicate with each other. They must articulate their problems, learn to depend on each other, and work towards a common goal.
GameDesk Methodologies not discussed here:
White Papers and Sections will be added soon:
- Play Pedagogy: Leveraging simulation and game scaffolding and reward structures to enhance Learning
- Translational Learning
- Articulation, Presentational Skills, and Reducing speech anxiety through Game Development
- Literacy through Game Design: Learning to write and articulate arguments
- Idea Creation
- Art Curriculum