SIGGRAPH 2010 By Focus
Designing Entertaining Educational Games Using Procedural Rhetoric: A Case Study
This paper describes design and development of a video game about sustainable energy use that effectively unites fun with learning. It also presents results from an initial study of the educational impact of the game.
Many educational games do not properly translate knowledge, facts, and lessons into the language of games. The result: games that are often neither engaging nor educational. In this paper, game mechanics are used in new ways to express the educational content. The design combines the fantasy elements and game-play conventions of the real-time strategy genre with numbers, resources, and situations based on research about real-world energy production and use. The result is a game in which the player learns about energy use simply by trying to overcome the game’s challenges.
The game also presents a model for translating real-world topics into game mechanics using the language of procedural rhetoric. The real world is ripe with problems and situations that could inspire interesting game mechanics and provide new creative ideas for educational and traditional game designers.
The paper highlights key design aspects that contributed to making the game fun as well as educational. It also demonstrates that effective and engaging learning games can be developed with minimal effort, as long as sound game-design principles are used. Results from a combined quantitative/qualitative study show that players enjoyed the game, learned new things, and became more interested in energy use.
Can “Gaming 2.0” Help Design "Serious Games"?
People without professional game-design skills, such as teachers and therapists, often request tools that could allow them to create or modify "serious games". Gaming 2.0 helps people outside the videogame industry create videogame content. Can these tools be used to create “serious games”?
To answer this question, this paper defines a simple theoretical model of video games. It outlines four “game parts” that players can create with Gaming 2.0 tools. Then it shows how this model can be used to provide a comparative analysis of 15 Gaming 2.0 examples. From this analysis, it derives insights on the relevance of Gaming 2.0 for the “serious games” field.
A Narrative-Driven Design Approach for Casual Games With Children
This paper proposes a design method to build casual games for children with children. Children approach game narratives with previously acquired schemata that are different from adults' schemata, so integrating narratives developed by children themselves into game design can create games that are more appropriate for young audiences. The proposed method uses a narrative approach to game design based on informant-design methods to maximize the contribution of both children informants and adult designers. It includes three major phases: Narrative Design, Game Design, and Design Moderation.
The method was applied to development of a mobile-phone game. User testing revealed that the children generally enjoyed the game and that the proposed method has promising potential in empowering the child designers. Future work will focus on further evaluating the method for refinement.
Using Semiotic Grammars for Rapid Design of Evolving Videogame Mechanics
McDaniel et al.  proposed the concept of cardboard semiotics, which uses semiotics (the study of signs and symbols and their interpretations) as a conceptual prototyping tool for game-story development. This paper adapts the theoretical principle of cardboard semiotics to an engineered formalism for design of game mechanics. It begins with a brief introduction to videogame literacy and a key method of semiotic analysis, and provides examples of how it can be applied in design of real-time strategy and first-person shooter games. It then uses generalized semiotic grammars, or methods for composing symbolic sentences, to expose the underlying frameworks of popular commercial games and show how they can be re-imagined in other contexts through the semiotic technique of substitution.