Designer/Critic/Researcher and Story-telling Workshop

Filed Under (educational games) by on September 29, 2009 and tagged ,

Video Game Designer, Critic, and Researcher: Ian Bogost

Ian Bogost

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

Story-telling and Educational Games Workshop

Story-telling and Educational Games Workshop

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.

Workshop Premise:

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.

Workshop topics

  • Story-telling and game theories
  • Story and game design paradigms for Web-based Learning
  • Augmented story-telling and gaming
  • Story-telling and educational gaming with social software
  • Story-telling and educational gaming with mobile technologies
  • Cross-media/transmedia story-telling and gaming
  • Computer gaming for story-telling (Game design for narrative architectures)
  • Multimedia story and game authoring
  • Story-telling and educational gaming applications

5 Responses to “Designer/Critic/Researcher and Story-telling Workshop”

  1.   Daniel Says:

    I am fascinated by the Story-Telling and Educational Games Workshop which took place in Germany in Aug 2009. For a similar event which took place in 08 they have posted the papers and slides here:

    They have not yet posted this years info.

    I wish they were accessible as podcasts so I could here the presentations. I would be more likely to listen to or watch a podcast then try to read the papers or go through the slides – both of which I glanced at.

    As a multimedia teacher, I try to give my students tools they can use for story-telling. We have used video, animation and 3D animation (using Alice – which is a fantastic story-telling tool). I do not feel very expert at teaching story-telling though. In fact, sometimes, I fell I am giving the students stories to tell instead of them sharing their own.

    This year I am on an interdisciplinary team (that includes an English, Math, and Science Teacher). I am looking forward to exploring stories that come out of their curriculum, as well as working with an English teacher, potentially more of an expert than I on story-telling.

  2.   Jason Says:

    Thanks! (Sarcasm). You got me really hooked on the site the other night. I didn’t even get my grading done. lol! Anyways, I’m actually thankful, some of the games may be useful for teaching government or for just having some “fun.” My students love going up to the smartboard and playing interactive games like “Defend Your Castle” and this!

  3.   brian dickey Says:

    Interesting about the part where you said you were “emotionally invested” in the story that helped you learn the topic. I seemed to have come across some reading in a past class where the author stated that if one is not affected some how emotionally that learning would not take place. So it makes sense really that we need to be emotionally invested in the topic and tasks at hand to really learn something. I can see how stories can help with this. I really like what Bernie said in our last class about learning and education….it could be a great bumper sticker. He said something like: “Education is about changing the connections in people’s minds not just individual neurons flashing.”

  4.   ShawnAlbertShepard Says:

    I’m not sure I buy the apparent dichotomy between story-telling an educational games that seems to be the premise of the workshop: “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. ”

    Maybe I don’t understand their definitions of story-telling and educational games, but it seems to me there’s a bit of story-telling in every game, even educational games. And, storytelling done right, can greatly enhance the learning experience.

  5.   Avni Vyas Says:

    This will be very useful for the game our team is working on related to Gangs and Challenges Kids Face. We have already done quite a bit of talking about role playing but including story telling to the mix might help as well. Digital Story Telling is also getting more and more popular.