An interesting conversation took place on the Serious Games list this week. Kam Memarzia put out a great list of ’10 commandments’ for serious game design and development. The list from Kam (truncated a bit for space considerations):
1. Thou shalt first thoroughly understand the problem or situation the
user is facing (for whose needs thou are crafting the solution)
2. Thou shalt then conceive of a ‘simulation’ where the problem is
exposed or can be experimented with in an interesting, engaging way
3. Thou shalt create and maintain a series of documents covering
Design, Technical Spec, System Architecture, Usability, Deployment,
…. similar to games or application development and refer and update
these throughout the development process.
4. Thou shalt appreciate pedagogy and draw upon the the worlds of
Training, Learning, Psychology and Human User Interface
5. Thou shalt create iterative-prototypes so they are not thrown away
but build upon, and thou shalt get feedback from the end user and the
client as often as possible on these prototypes
6. Thou shalt be weary of flights of fantasy especially by the client
or design staff and manage change orders as the project progresses
7. Thou shalt be weary of accessibility and end user kit, as the god
of Serious Games will smite you with vengeance if thou application
does not run on the machine it was crafted for
8. Thou shalt try and inject some light heartedness into thou
creations otherwise thou may be making a dry application with no ‘fun’
9. Thou shalt never underestimate the power of a good teacher or
facilitator to use what you have created to transform the user and
ultimately be sensible in what the application may be able to achieve
10. Thou shalt be mindful of the uses of any word that a ‘serious’
person may find in anyway ‘frivolous’, being tactful of when and where
the word ‘game’ or ‘fun’ appears
Overall, I like this list a lot. I agree with all 10 items, but it still gets under my skin that certain groups or organizations STILL get bogged down by language such as ‘game’, ‘fun’ and ‘play’. I realize this is somewhat a generational issue, and to sell these solutions to organizations with old school upper management you need to spin the language a certain way.
I spent some time in the Spring thinking a lot about Fun. Does fun equal engagement? Is it the other way around? How does fun impact learning? How can I inject fun into my workplace culture? How can I inject fun into projects (both the process of creating something as well as in the final deliverable)? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I have collected some interesting quotes on the topic:
People rarely succeed at anything unless they are having fun doing it. – Southwest Airlines Mission Statement
Considering Southwest is still doing well in a very bad time for airlines, maybe they are onto something.
We insist that kids be given time to play because it’s important to childhood, but that work is deemed far more important later in life. I think work and play aren’t all that different, to be honest. – Raph Koster
The hardest part about finding a new job lately relates to this quote. I’ve been in an ideal situation for the last 3 years in that I REALLY like what I’m doing because it includes both Play and Work. It’s difficult to find a job the encourages both.
Play is by its very nature educational. When the fun goes out of play, most often so does the learning. – Joanne E. Oppenheim, Author of Kids and Play
This one is a bit tricky. Sure, kids learn from play throughout childhood, but is there a time when the play tapers off and learning takes place in more formal or structured settings? As a gamer, I still feel I learn a lot while playing games. But this learning is not content-specific; it’s more meta-skills like multitasking, spatial awareness, memory building, etc. The brain is your most important muscle and games are great exercise!