Video Game Designer, Critic, and Researcher: Ian Bogost
I came across this site created by Dr. Ian Bogost, who is a videogame designer, critic, and researcher. He is Associate Professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC. His research and writing considers videogames as an expressive medium, and his creative practice focuses on games about social and political issues.
Bogost is author of Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism, listed among “50 books for everyone in the game industry,” of Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, and co-author of Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System. He is a popular writer and speaker and widely considered an influential thinker and doer in the videogame industry and research community.
Bogost’s videogames about social and political issues cover topics as varied as airport security, consumer debt, disaffected workers, the petroleum industry, suburban errands, pandemic flu, and tort reform. His games have been played by millions of people and exhibited internationally at venues including Laboral Centro de Arte (Madrid), Fournos Centre for Digital Culture (Athens), Eyebeam Center (New York), Slamdance Guerilla Game Festival (Park City), the Israeli Center for Digital Art (Holon) and The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne).
Bogost holds a Bachelors degree in Philosophy and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a Masters and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA. He lives in Atlanta.
Although his works and critiques do not involve boardgames, I would recommend you check out this site to see a wide variety of interactive games created for the purpose of educating people about a particular topic. It may lead to some interesting ideas. Check out the Water Cooler Games archive, in particular.
Story-Telling and Educational Games Workshop 2009
I came across this workshop when researching this month’s blog post assignment, and it jumped out at me because of it’s focus on the importance of “the story.” Recently, I’ve had the most fun learning about a topic when there’s a story involved. I never was one for RPGs, but I find them fascinating now because you delve into an entire new world with different culture and rules. To understand these alternate worlds, the story teller sets the premise, explains the history, and how things came to be the way they are now. I then become invested emotionally in this “story.” I care about what I’m learning.
Even the gentleman I interview for the LMF project described a learning experience that was from a book, purely narrative form. Granted, this wasn’t an RPG book, but it just goes to show that we shouldn’t underestimate the power of the author voice, which sets the tone, context, and ultimately drives the point of the learning home. Stories have the potential to stick with us forever, to touch us deeply. This workshop on Story-telling and Educational Games seems really interesting because it attempts to synthesize these two mediums that at first seem like totally contradictory approaches. I’ve included a description of the premise of the workshop from the website below. Check it out and share what experiences you’ve had with story-telling and educational games.
The main difference between educational games and story-telling lies in the user’s motivational point of view. Story-telling aims at reliving real life tasks and capturing previous experiences in problem-solving for reuse, while educational games reproduce real life tasks in a virtual world in an (ideally) engaging and attractive process. Nevertheless, educational games require highly specialized technical and pedagogical skills and learning processes to cover the topics in sufficient depth and breadth. Imbalance between depth and breadth of study can lead to producing trivial games, which in turn can lead to de-motivating the learner.
While the integration of learning and gaming provides a great opportunity, several motivational challenges (particularly in vocational training) must also be addressed to ensure successful realization. Non-linear digital stories are an ideal starting point for the creation of educational games, since each story addresses a certain problem, so that the story recipient can gain benefit from other users’ experiences. This leads to the development of more realistic stories, which then provide the kernel for developing non-trivial educational videogames. These stories can cover the instructional portion of an educational game, while the game would add the motivation and engagement part.
In summary, this workshop aims at bringing together researchers, experts and practitioners from the domains of non-linear digital interactive story-telling and educational gaming to share ideas and knowledge. There is a great amount of separate research in these two fields and the celebration of this workshop will allow the participants to discover and leverage potential synergies.