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In case you missed any of them…

Emerging Learning Design 2016 – paper prototyping

I had the distinct honor and pleasure of presenting a workshop on prototyping with Teresa Slobuski at ELD2016.  Paper Prototyping Games for Engaged Investigations and Fun in any Subject was my most recent foray into the conference circuit, and I really enjoyed working with Teresa. It helped that the presentation was an abbreviation of an exercise that I do with my Art/CS 108 class but it was also useful to see how the exercise played out in a different circumstance and with different goals.

“Empower student learning thru game development!” We say in our overview. We ended up having a good crowd including the students who designed the conference game, and we made a bunch of games.

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I enjoy practicing these skills partially because I think I need the practice and partially because the results always seem to surprise me. In this case we had five playable prototypes come out of the different groups.

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Pretty much all of the groups held to the idea of incorporating a learning theme into the game, with the possible exception of my own group which ended up focusing more on the mechanics. It ended up being an interesting experience regardless because it was pretty easy to see how it was connected to our conversation, and the idea of gathering resources.

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This first prototyping part is sometimes hard, and sometimes hard for my students. All of these games were made in the 90 minute workshop, and began surfacing a system. A few of our participants were thinking of using the prototyping strategies for themselves to develop games for students where others were thinking about using the prototyping exercise to help students collaborate and understand systems better.

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In the end it was impressive to hear everyone talking about their games and what they did end up getting into them, everyone succeeded and I think everyone had fun. I plan to post the session wrapup info, perhaps as an update to this post.

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If you are interested in our resources are here: http://bit.ly/paper-prototype-sjsu

and our slide deck is here: http://bit.ly/paper-prototype-slides-sjsu

Summer Game Development 2017

For the past few weeks I have been architecting a summer intensive class in video game development. This is based on my experience with the Art/CS 108 course, the Global Game Jam, the Game Development Club at SJSU, and conversations with the MIT Game Lab. Please note that everything in this post is tentative including our proposed dates of June 26 –

Please note that until the budget is approved in November this has an odd status in that it is approved pending budget. This will be a post where I outline the goals and thoughts as well as artists who have tentatively consented to be part of the faculty and why I think they are important.

Proposed faculty listed alphabetically: (note that the event is over a year from now, and may change)

Anna Anthropy – Designer and provocateur, Anna continues to make and publish games at the intersection of personal experience and the utmost playability. Anna has worked with me before both as a lecturer and an exhibitor in games shows curated by JP and myself. I am looking forward to the energy and perspective she will bring to the two week intensive course. I know that she will inspire students by her example and her energy.
http://auntiepixelante.com/speaking/
https://w.itch.io/
https://twitter.com/auntiepixelante

JP Bruneau – John and I have been curatorial partners on a few shows now, and in addition to being a founding member of the Game Development Club at SJSU he is also a founding member of Ars Virtua. John teaches game design and development at The New School in NYC now and continues to make art and games. John has helped many students thru the game development process and also works with Baby Castles.
http://artfail.com/
http://www.innovationgames.com

Heather Logas – Heather has an MFA in Game Design and has taught at UCSC as well as having worked on major game titles. She currently consults with companies thru games to focus on their core beliefs and competencies. Heather uses games to help business. Heather has a practical approach to design and an ability to communicate that is impressive in addition to her design portfolio.
http://www.spaceforplay.com/

James Morgan – Artist and educator who teaches at SJSU and advises the Game Development Club at SJSU. Teaches SJSU’s only Game Studies course as well as intro digital media courses in the CADRE Media Lab. James main job will be to make sure everything happens as it is suppose to.

The course will be focused on creating robust game prototypes/ finished games that address issues in STEAM categories. This is to say that the next step is to recruit some faculty across the CSU that have STEM/STEAM based problems that may benefit from a proper game prototype. This process will take place in the fall semester with a short (possible) gathering in the spring to examine techniques and refine problems. The goal will not be to engage in the design or find specific solutions as that will be the teams problem, but to focus on surfacing the systems and background knowledge and keeping the scope small. Educators will learn the basics of prototyping in an attempt to understand the development process.

So what is on my mind now? What is in this for the students? Is it enough to say we’ll make a game with a product owner? What else will drive students to want to take this? How should teams be architected and built? Is there a way to permit some self selection as well as creating balance between programming, art and other tasks? Is there room for mentorship and people new to development?

Where to look for problems? Are there people who are underfunded for development but who have labs / centers / outreach programs that can benefit a team in ways other than pure funding? Will there be interest in continuing the project after the summer development, and how can that be handled? How will IP be handled?

There are lots of good questions here and lots of good people on board. I am excited for this and for the future. This is the soft announcement, so look for more information as time passes, I’m going to try to make it down to CSUMB to sit in on a little of the summer 16 edition of this and see how it plays on the ground. There is so much to be done and so many deadlines ahead. If you are interested in participating as a STEAM faculty or as a student please feel free to contact me directly.

Prototype One – Ticket to Werewolf

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I started out my trip with some awesome friends in western Mass and some prototyping. Emily Boss Care and Epidiah Ravachol met me in Boston and we drove to Greenfield, the trip just flew by as we talked and talked. I had ulterior motives though as I had a vexing problem with a game I just could not quite start, the premise / problem is thus:

Create a game that can be played with an event ticket, the game should help people break the ice and give them a reason to continue to play with others throughout the even.

We started playing with some props I brought and ended up with a few rounds of liars poker (with $2 bills), a fun game that is usually played for the money, but I figure that every ticket can have a unique (though not necessarily unique) serial number.

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We kept going and played a little 3 player “are you a werewolf” and followed that up with some rock-paper-scissors.

We added a little twist to the game which put one werewolf and 2 villagers and said that the werewolf was permitted to cheat in liars poker, and added an rps symbol to the ticket that enabled the player to “change their choice” after play.

This became kind of interesting, but we realized that there should be a way to reveal portions of the information to other players to “prove” your results.

An interesting aspect emerged that if a player did really well on liars poker, they were immediately suspected of being a werewolf.

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To add a social element and make the players seek out new players, we added a kind of experience points that let the players change roles as they gained them.

The biggest innovation was an overlapping tri-fold that kept some info secret while revealing others. This could facilitate the whole game.

Playing the ELD game days later I realize the greatest challenge is going to be finding the right audience that will play, but our little prototype is pretty good. I just need to find a dozen or fifty people to test it on.

If I see you this summer, we should play…