A Model for Learning through Game Design Workshop

Trainer: Angela U. Ramnarine-Rieks, Syracuse University, USA

1. Introduction

Recent years have witnessed a rise in Game Jams. These are organized events to create playable prototypes in very short time frames. Beyond that, Game Jams is a model situated in the research-through-design tradition, to create knowledge in a fast-paced, collaborative environment. It is a flexible model using a variety of game design tools and activities, from level-editors to text-based coding tools, from digital to physical activities, from designing original games from scratch to modding existing games. Therefore, goals of this workshop are to:

  • Expose participants to the game jam model
  • Develop insights into the nature of game and game play interactions by actively designing the experience
  • Develop cross disciplinary and collaborative relationships among participants

Why interest in creating and designing games? Contrary to other approaches that integrate games into instructional sessions where individuals are players, game jams places the individual in the role of the producer. More specifically, the creative aspect refers to the process of learning content during a collaborative design task that promotes greater engagement with content. They are also enjoyable activities that engage social relationships while employing the full range of sensory and motor cortices. The incorporation of these gaming activities in learning environments has demonstrated positive outcomes such as situating learning in meaningful contexts, empower students to become self-regulated, integrate several knowledge domains; promote inquiry-based and discovery learning while enhancing retention.

2. About the Workshop

This workshop is designed to be engaging and interactive. Participants will be given a high level perspective about games in learning spaces, learn about the structure of a Game Jam, and then will participate in a Game Jam. Finally, participants will share and play each other creations, provide feedback and reflect on the experience, as well as potentially make connections and plans to run a game jam event in their area. By the end of the workshop, participants will have gone through the steps of planning a Game Jam and will be able to facilitate this inexpensive activity in your own learning environments.

3. Workshop Schedule

12 August – AM Session – Games in Literacy/Libraries and Learning Spaces
Introductions – Participants/facilitator discuss game experiences. Explore ways to use game design for instruction. Overview on type of tools that is available to promote creativity and innovation in a learning/teaching environment. Demonstration/participation with examples of games created for learning environments. Discuss what examples worked and what needed improvement.

Participants begin thinking of elements for viable instructional activities that could become challenges developed and delivered to students.

12 August – PM Session – Overview on Designing Games
Game Jam model – describing the format, objectives and impact of this initiative. Interactive discussion on game components using simple examples. Playing or modding games by refining rules, game play and mechanics.

Participants develop an understanding of the different components of a game.

13 August – AM Session – Mini Game Jam
Brainstorm to develop ideas for a game theme. Develop idea into a game. This will include drawing up a rough game plan, determining learning objectives, basic rules, gameplay and mechanics. Share playable minimum viable product with others. Based on feedback received spend the remainder of the session experimenting, creating and refining game design and play. The facilitator will provide coaching through the process.

Participants gain hands on experience in a developing a game that teaches something specific.

13 August – PM Session – Share and Reflect
Participants set out their “completed” games and observe other event attendees play their creations. Play testers will provide feedback about each game with suggested improvements on learning objectives, gameplay and mechanics.

Participants share and reflect on takeaways and potential implementation of the Game Jam model in their instruction/learning spaces.