Theories of Games and Interaction for Design (9: 3 Queries)

Approximate Reading Time: 3 minutes

These are public postings of my writings for the first course of the Graduate Certificate Program in Serious Game Design and Research at Michigan State University.

Each week, we are also required to post three questions for the rest of the class. These are mine.

Please note: these posts are not intended as any kind of commentary on or assessment of the course I’m taking, or its instructor, OR of Michigan State University or the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, or the Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media. They are solely my thoughts and reactions that stem from the readings.

Feel free to comment, disagree, or what have you.

Week 9

These are the readings for the week (Topics: Topics: Evaluation plan (feasibility, acceptability, usability, effectiveness; IRB and logistics):

  • Pinelle, D., Wong, N., & Stach, T. (2008). Heuristic evaluation for games: Usability principle for video game design. Paper presented at the The 26th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’06).
  • Baranowski, T., Baranowski, J., Thompson, D. I., Buday, R., Jago, R., Griffith, M. J., et al. (2011). Video game play, child diet, and physical activity behavior change: A randomized clinical trial. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40, 33-38.
  • Baranowski, T., Baranowski, J., Thompson, D. I., & Buday, R. (2011). Behavioral science in video games for children’s diet and physical activity change: Key research needs. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, 5, 229-233.
  • Isbister, K., Flanagan, M., & Hash, C. (2010). Designing games for learning: Insights from conversations with designers. Paper presented at the 28th ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’10)

Question1: [Week 9 KB Q 1/3] How Important is First-Hand Experience?

You don’t have to be a hard-core gamer to be able to talk about games. BUT….

If you want to offer an opinion about digital games, you MUST play some. If you don’t play games you have no scholarly authority to talk about them.

Harlan Ellison made the point very well:

When I reviewed television, people said “If you hate television so much, how come you’ve got a television set in your house?”. Stephen King even said “You know, Harlan’s got a big TV.”. Yes, that’s right. I try to  be courant. I try to know what it is I’m talking about. I am not like many people who give you an opinion based on some sort of idiot hearsay or some kind of gut feeling you cannot validate. When I give an opinion, I do my best to make sure it is based on information.

I also think that if you have never designed a game, you are not the one to be telling people how to do it right.

Question2: [Week 9 KB Q 2/3] How Large Does the “Effect” have to be to make a game a viable solution?

I’m not actually expecting a sensible answer to this question, but I am hoping to generate some discussion – maybe even a list…

I personally think games could be important tools in the arsenal of tools to use when trying to change behavior, but I also don’t think they can solve any societal problems alone. So, supposing we have $100,000.00 to spend on some intervention. How do we justify spending that money on a game?

Question3: [Week 9 KB Q 3/3] How do we get academics and industry to connect?

This question is one that has come up a number of times at places like GDC. Things are better than they were a decade ago, but Game industry folks still have a tendency to dismiss academic research as not relevant, and for their part, academics also often ignore the wealth of knowledge that exists in the industry. The Pinelle paper was striking in its lack of industry connection, and I see the same kind of industry blindness in many educational studies. What are your ideas for how we might help bridge the gap between these two cultures?

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