Project

Students as Game Designers

Goal: This project focuses on students designing or redesigning tabletop games for their own learning. In this research, we co-create learning designs with teachers to support students' construction their own knowledge and skills through game design projects. We explore how students' evolving game design contribute to their understanding of relevant disciplines and game design literacies, and how the classroom culture (e.g., role of the teacher, peer evaluation) develops and changes over time.

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Project log

Beaumie Kim
added 2 research items
Researchers have supported "design" approaches to learning for the last few decades, acknowledging the in-depth understanding the design work requires of learners. On the other hand, the perspectives of the users (players in the case of game design) are less considered as learners' designs may not be used beyond their classrooms. This paper pays attention to learners' experience as game players when taking the role of game designers in the classroom while exploring the implicit and explicit relationships of the mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics. Moreover, we seek to understand what students learn when these relationships emerge. To reach these objectives, we analysed how ninth grade students in a west-Canadian junior high school worked together as small teams to design games in a Career and Technology Studies classroom. Learners in different groups pursued varying game ideas driven by their interest. We collected qualitative data through weekly observations and analysed the data to explore the implicit and explicit relationships existing between mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics of their evolving game design. We found that the students developed an insight into the implicit and explicit relationships between mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics of their game. Game design practices engaged learners in deep understanding of design as an iterative process.
Recent research shows that game design approach supports students' interestdriven learning while engaging them in systems thinking. On the other hand, there is very little research on how the materiality of tabletop games engage learners differently. In this study, grade 3 and 4 learners went through the process of playing and redesigning an existing tabletop game called, Triominos. It was conducted in a STEM learning classroom in a western Canadian school. Each group considered what they could change in the original game, and created a unique game that explored various shapes mathematically. We collected ethnographic data, including video recordings of the classroom, photos of students' in-progress and final games. We discuss three groups' materializing their ideas into playable game pieces, using different shapes (i.e., triangles, squares, and rhombuses). The findings demonstrate how learners encounter mathematics and pursue their own mathematical problems, forming assemblages of mathematical and game-making practices.
Beaumie Kim
added a research item
Background Play is an important part of the childhood. The learning potential of playing and creating non-digital games, like tabletop games, however, has not been fully explored. Aim The study discussed in this paper identified a range of activities through which learners redesigned a mathematics-oriented tabletop game to develop their ideas and competencies in an integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) class. Method Third and fourth graders worked as teams to make changes on Triominos over a period of six weeks. Considering what could be changed from the original game, each group provided a different design for Triominos to accommodate the changes introduced. We gathered data through weekly observations of two classes (about 45 learners, ranging from age eight to ten) in a west-Canada school. In this paper, we present the works of three groups of three teammates. Results We found that any change made by learners not only influenced mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics of the game but also helped engage learners, encourage unconventional ideas, promote learning, and solve problems. Based on our findings, we suggest redesigning games facilitated learners deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts as part of a designed game system in STEM classes.
Beaumie Kim
added a research item
This paper explores how some elementary students' pursuits of their interests led to different social and disciplinary engagements while redesigning tabletop games, namely Inversé and Triominos. Using the ethnographic data collected over two years, we chose and compared two tabletop game design projects. We investigated their design changes and conversations that indicated their learning and design process. Our findings indicate that these two groups found the opportunities or openings to connect their designs with their interests through teacher's questioning or in the process of co-defining the design tasks. We argue that providing design constraints, such as redesigning certain aspects of existing games, may provide opportunities for learners to create continuity between the school disciplines and their personal interests.
Wilian Gatti Jr
added a research item
In this paper, we discuss how a board game design could support systems thinking, which is influenced by the social interactions emerge through play. We designed a board game called, Green Economy, which deals with environmental concerns of achieving wealth and has unique mechanism for players to influence the game and social system. Through two-day gameplay observations in a Master of Education course, we suggested that players were engaged in systems thinking and anticipatory analyses by interacting with the various game design elements. Reflective discussion were also important in engaging learners as part of the emergent social and complex system.
Beaumie Kim
added a research item
In this paper, we discuss our approach to designing a board game, the Green Economy, that promotes systems thinking. We anchored our game design process on design-by-analogy and rapid prototyping concepts by taking a modular approach to overcome the trade-off between realism and simplicity. The unique feature of the Green Economy enables players to change the rules of the game during the gameplay, which gives them a partial design opportunity. The theme, sustainable development, was chosen to challenge the players’ systems thinking in sustainable development. Systems thinking enables us to understand and face the complex challenges in global and networked social structures. Our design experience demonstrates the benefit of designing dynamic game elements that involve both strategic gameplay and game (re)design through systems thinking.
Reyhaneh Bastani
added a research item
In this paper, we explore how collaborative redesign of a game could support a modeling-based view of mathematics learning. We rely on a complexity perspective to structure learning environments that aims to expand collective learning opportunities while valuing the diversity of individual ideas. We explored how we could support learners to come up with their individual ideas on meaningful interactions in possible game systems and to collectively use mathematics to model those systems. We argue that collaborative game design provides opportunities for students to go beyond practicing computation and solving linear problems. They could develop a view of mathematics as a tool to make sense of systems, and experiment with and design new possible structures (i.e., in the modeled world of their game). Our findings highlight the importance of the classroom structures that support learners to develop shared goals while enabling them to pursue diverse paths of engagement with mathematics.
Beaumie Kim
added 2 research items
Individuals develop skills and ideas when engaged in design practices. This forms a type of literacy that may differ from the traditional ideas of literacy. The study discussed in this paper took a design-based research methodology to design and implement a game re-design approach. We observed grade three and four students who were re-designing Triominos in a classroom focused on mathematical concepts. Students and the teacher decided to change several aspects of the pre-existing game in terms of aesthetics, mechanics, and dynamics. We collected data through weekly observations of two groups of 20 to 25 students.
Game play and game design require learners to think critically about contents within the game and to solve problems. We suggest that engaging learners in game design projects helps them understand school subjects deeply and develop important skills that individuals need in all situations in life (e.g., creative designs, strategic thinking). In this paper, we discuss what game design practices can afford for learners’ experience and development based on the recent game design projects that took place in two junior high schools in Western Canada.
Beaumie Kim
added a research item
Children can develop a variety of mathematical concepts, as well as a positive relationship with mathematics, through playing and redesigning board games. In this article, the authors introduce the process of integrating board game play and redesign into the early mathematics classroom. Presenting cases from a diverse school, they highlight learning opportunities that fostered early numeracy. They discuss how children demonstrated their understanding of integrated numeracy (including subitizing, ordinality and cardinality of number, the area model of multiplication, spatial reasoning, and problem posing and solving). The project not only fostered children’s early numeracy but also helped them to develop a positive relationship with mathematics and social rules and to see themselves as designers, problem solvers and creative people.
Beaumie Kim
added 3 research items
This paper discusses the special issue on learner-generated designs in participatory culture. We suggest that learner-generated designs represented as artifacts in the making, identity negotiation, and mediated discourse point strongly to social identification. People learn tacitly not only from their environment across different contexts of learning, but also from the social interactions that support learning and are shaped by the practices in which they are situated in. The individual and collectives transform each other in the interactions they participate in.
Adolescents develop skills and ideas from their interest-driven practices, which shape a type of literacy that may differ from the traditional ideas of literacy. This paper takes a qualitative approach to identify adolescents’ activities through interest-driven participatory design. We interacted with grade 9 students at a Western Canadian school who were designing games in a Career and Technology Studies classroom. We collected data through weekly observations, group presentations, written individual reflections on their own designs, oral and written group peer feedback, and final interviews with group members. Based on literature review and our observations, we drew on a framework focusing on adolescents’ participation in exploring, developing, and creating designs based on their own interest. We advocate for adopting interest-driven participatory game design in technology classroom, to engage learners more in learning and developing necessary skills to thrive in their lives.
Beaumie Kim
added a project goal
This project focuses on students designing or redesigning tabletop games for their own learning. In this research, we co-create learning designs with teachers to support students' construction their own knowledge and skills through game design projects. We explore how students' evolving game design contribute to their understanding of relevant disciplines and game design literacies, and how the classroom culture (e.g., role of the teacher, peer evaluation) develops and changes over time.