Gamification Report | Episode 24: Serious Educational Games – Avatars, Open Worlds, and more!


David Chandross: Welcome back to our podcast
today, our last little series in implementing research based design in educational games,
as Serious Education Games 4 Avatars and Open Worlds. Let’s just talk a little bit about how we
start to build a deeper game experience, one with some life to it. One of the things that you might want to do
in the beginning of a course as you move into the ZID building and avatar table. What an avatar table means is that students
would choose a different character when they started the game. For example, in Professor Deb Fel’s work at
Ryerson, there’s characters that people could choose, and groups could actually choose a
character to represent. This is a typical avatar effect. What you’ll see in the way video games work
is there’s generally an ability each avatar has. For example, the lock picker has something
called a battle cry, which could destroy an enemy and then you have the shadow master
which gives stealth. Then you could chose an enemy minion and steal
its death rattle effect. There’s all these different things which are
unique to games. In our very early iterations in Healer’s Quest,
the work we did at Ryerson back in early 2002 to 2004, we had different avatars that were
simple so you could you could enter a game of medical simulation as an alchemist for
example, and a seer, and the alchemist could give medications, but the seer could do radiological
investigations. The idea of producing an avatar table, a role
for your student to play, and we’re doing some of this work, we’re just starting to
do some work with a colleague of ours that we hope to interview in October, and this
is Dr. Amanda Wintink here at the Guelph Humber School of Psychology. She’s a psychology professor, and we’re building
out game systems that recognize different professions. When someone graduates with a psychology degree,
they may go on to become a psychologist per se, and see patients or whatever, or they
may be a scientist that studies psychology, or they might work in the area of journalism
using psychology as a jumping off. The idea is that you could develop your character
in different careers, and you might have different kinds of characters that you want to generate
in a game, there’s nothing saying that you can’t be three or four avatars in a game. Say you could develop part of you that’s learning
to be a scientist. You could also develop a part of you that’s
trying to become a clinical psychologist in this game, and they would have different learning
goals associated with it. Avatar tables are generally, again, a description
of the different roles that a person could play in a game, and then what they want to
do with that role has to do with the game design that follows. What we’ll often do is you would create a
life path. Now, in this case we talk about a life path
for an illness, so in any kind of simulation that you give your learners to do, you would
have to have them think about what happens next in course of what’s called a life path. Let’s just talk about a life path here and
how you build it. You might take a student over a ten minute
period, and set some probabilities by using a dice roll, to look at the life path of depression. In depression would normally get worse and
worse over time, but if you, over a ten minute period are able to identify medications that
you may want to suggest, then you would learn about those medications over a ten minute
period, and then you would try to apply those to the case in the life path of the illness
that you’re trying to treat. Again, you could use a dice roll, and as you
roll the dice, this could give you a few different probabilities for success of your medication. We talk about the idea that we want to create
cases. We want to create unlocks and create probabilities. We unlock more difficult cases by doing the
early one with our avatar, then we could use dice rolls to create probabilities, and then
we could work into it. This is called Open World Training, using
smart decision trees. Now, this really has to do with this idea
of creating a patient biography for example, and patient biographies aren’t necessarily
all about humans. This is a work by Normal Cousins. It talks about a biography of an illness,
but you could talk about the biography of anything. It could be the biography of building a new
business, or the biography of building a new house. There’s a biography, that is a life path,
a series of things that are going to happen, to that virtual object in that virtual game
environment that you’re going to work with over time. What we generally do for example is we create
a year, a week, a month or a year in the life of that. This would be the untreated. That is one where we haven’t really made an
intervention. Let’s look at day one of a construction project
as your case. Again, the case study is built to give you
a progression of how that virtual object like the house might evolve over time. I know this is a lot of new language to take
in, a little overwhelming, but let’s just break it down. Let’s look at what happens on the days of
a construction project. Day one, you would have the teams met at the
job site and began to do the footings and start to work on the foundations. Now, we could put in a life path for that
house, and day two, it could have very heavy rained, and the whole work site is turned
to mud, and you’re not sure about which things that you can continue to work on when you
have very, very inclement conditions. Or let’s add some snow and ice and an ice
storm, and talk about how you’re going to strategize still getting the house built to
deadline, even though your workers are not in the middle of an ice storm where everything’s
freezing up on them. You start to see what we do? Now, day three of the project, we could have
things go very, very well, and the footings and the foundation start to move in. Day four, there could be a delay of work materials. Now, you found out it’s going to take you
another three weeks to get the marble that you need for the countertops, and it’s going
to take you some time to get the flooring, so you have to prioritize getting the flooring
so you can put it in, but you’ll wait on the countertops, which means you have to go back
to the client, and say, “You know what? We can’t get your house done in time because
it’s going to be another three week wait because we have a short supply of marble coming from
Italy to do your countertops.” On day five, it could go well, but we might
find a problem in the electrical panel, and we could have some difficulty with the electricians. Perhaps this is a renovation, and they discover
that the old wiring has to be replaced. Do you see what we’re getting at? When you build a simulation for an open world
game, think of this idea of a life path. In this case, it could be for the house, it
could be for a patient, it could be for the production of an automobile. What happens in each day or month or year
of that project, which then allows the student to have to adapt to changing conditions, and
it becomes a more realistic simulation. You’re not just building a house. You’re dealing with all of these things which
might be introduced week after week on a learning management system or maybe through introducing
cards or having the instructor simply stand at the beginning of the class each week and
say, “Welcome to day two of your construction project. Here’s what’s gone wrong today. What are you going to do about it to make
it successful?” If we do it in terms of medical things, each
day we would roll a dice to see how the patient does, and we could have students formulate
interventions. The idea here is that you could actually use
a die roll to say, is your house going to work or not, and you could use a die roll
and set the die roll probabilities so that various things happen. You don’t have the static of case development
in a life path for the virtual object. The virtual object could be effected by die
rolls. We want to talk about another little element
in our last of our series here on how to integrate introduction of case studies. We don’t have to do it in paper and pencil
or PDFs. Using a 360 camera is an extremely powerful
way of producing an impactful presentation. A 360 camera looks something like this. We’ve got a Rico here we use at Humber but
you can use LG, you can use other brands, and they’re not that expensive. They’re under 500 dollars for a 4K HD camera. What you can actually do is allow control
of video by the student. You’ll see in a 360 camera that people can
put on some VR goggles from a YouTube site, or they can just use a cursor and kind of
scroll around the screen, and this gives them control of video. You could take them to a job site and use
a 360 view of the inside of the house that you’re working on as you’re building it, and
then present the problem and text along with it, or have someone speak on the 360 view. It’s so much more compelling for the student
to enter the game world and to get an idea of what they’re doing in reality, so we use
the 360 video to actually present the concept. We can actually also use it in medical training
and treatment. There are all kinds of 360 videos that are
used to look at surgeries and operations, et cetera. You could be interviewing people that have
drug addiction in 360 or looking at someone that’s applying for a job using 360 video. This is a very powerful, compelling way to
actually provide the case information for the open world game event using compelling. We could also use what are called triple jump
evaluations, and these are kind of interesting. In a triple jump, there’s three different
stages. Got a hop, step, and jump. What you actually do in triple jump game design
is that you have the student take the first part of the case, and then if they do well
on it, then you give them a next part of the case, then you give them the third part. Each case could be sequenced in each part. What we showed you earlier was a game world
where you plan out the progression of what’s going to happen with your virtual object. Here, you can actually set it into three stages. Day one, you arrived at the job site, what
are the different team members that need to be on the job site to get the foundations
in and to get the build going? Once they’ve filled out maybe a page, something
on that, that explains how they’re going to do that, then they would release, okay, this
is the second part of your project. The house is now built, got the foundations,
and you’re getting framing going, what kind of things do you have to do when you’re doing
the framing stage? What kinds of professionals? Do you want the drywall folks to come in? Do you want to electricians to come in? The plumbers? Et cetera. Once they sign off on that, and they say that’s
what I want to do, here’s the third stage of the problem. Now the house is almost ready, what kind of
team are you going to need to do the finishing? This is where you do the painting and the
appliances, et cetera. This is called a triple jump. It’s where there’s three stages of a case,
rather than this kind of an idea of an evolving time line, and at each stage they have to
make decisions. The idea of triple jump evaluations is a product
from McMaster University Medical School, where they wanted to find ways to test medical students
which didn’t use exams. They wanted to look at how they solve problems,
and look at their problem solving attributes and to do these kinds of measurements. Again, this idea that you would provide a
case, students provide an action plan, provide the next stage of the case, provide the second
action plan, et cetera. This is what’s called a triple jump learning. This can merge up with a plan of what we call
Objective Structured Clinical Examination, OSCE Format. That is that they can go from each room to
room, or different parts of a classroom, or different parts of an LMS, different discussion
groups within an online learning module, and each one of these they could have various
things they have to do, and you can actually measure the student performance by looking
at how they answer multiple choice exams or observing them, having them submit material
if it’s a physical thing like massage or something like making drinks or making a cake. You can have them observe that process. You can set up these simulations as challenges
that can be observed, so you get feedback on the instructor and how people are doing,
and then you can do just in time transformations to provide new content to make up for any
kinds of problems. Our last little part of the talk is to talk
about behavioral neuroscience design, and that is how that we set up these games. You got to remember this is Richard Bartle’s
idea of different player types of socializers, killers, explorers, and achievers. Think about the educational game you’re building
as appealing, having elements that appeal to socializers and competitors, explorers,
et cetera, so the game isn’t good for just one type of person. Now, what was very interesting is that we’ve
discovered that as people enter your educational serious games, you’re going to have player
types and flows. This is the work of Gabriel Beretta, and their
team from Portugal, and this is the best study of the long term use of gamification. They looked at game learning over three years
in a course, and they discovered that there were many different player types that emerged. Some people loved the game and stayed with
that all the time and did everything you asked. Other people didn’t really like the game. They did what they had to because it was the
course, but they did as little as possible. Other people liked the game initially, but
after the first year were kind of bored with the idea, so they didn’t put as much work
into the game in the second year. It’s a very good paper worth reading, studying
student differentiation and gamified education. It will probably give you a pretty good look
at how students are likely to respond to fully gamified course offerings over time. They needed a lot of data collection in preparing
this paper. They looked at all these different elements
and tried to make some measures, and they were able to by an analysis, cluster people
into different groups. There was about six or seven different types
of games, different than Bartle’s idea of four. There was different people with respect to
the motivation that they had, and the amount of investment they put into the game. It’s important to develop ways to tracking
progress in any form of serious educational game, especially these which involve open
world design. You want to have some kind of progress bars. We know on Blackboard Learn there are progress
bars that you can use to work your way through materials, and you might provide informal
ones or written progress bars, but remember that the learner in open world game needs
to know how they’re doing and how they’re advancing, and each of their level of skills. They don’t want to just float around in the
game without any feedback and without any idea of the progress that they’re making. We need to build these elements into the game. We can do this a lot using adaptive release
using a learning management system, and we’ve done quite a bit of work here at Humber on
building out games that use adaptive release. Essentially, what an adaptive release means
is that they can’t see one module, there a rule, until they’ve done one. You can do this in a relatively conventional
way in which you have a lecture, and then you have to write a quiz, and once you’ve
written the quiz, it gives you lecture two, et cetera. You can set adaptive release that these are
different parts of the case that are revealed. Initially, the first part of the case could
be a 21 year old person comes in and they’re looking to try to find a career, a path for
themselves. They’re not sure. You’re working as a guidance counselor, so
then there would be some multiple choice questions you might have to answer about what kind of
resources you should provide for that young person looking for a career, and if you get
that answer right, then it reveals the second part of the case. The second part of the case is now the person
is beginning to explore job options in a career that you’ve recommended. What kind of resources can you provide. You can even provide HR training, and we’re
doing some work with HR here at Humber in ways of using gamification to look at how
people will deal with real world case. This all uses this element of adaptive release
in the learning management system. Almost every learning management system has
an adaptive release feature, so remember you can proceed through the game based on the
merits of the work you did prior. This has to do with the behavior neuroscience
of dopamine that underlies this. This just means as you’re starting to think
about having a coffee, your dopamine concentrations start to go up, so as you’re getting ready
for the coffee, it’s going to peak up, but as you drink your coffee, the dopamine’s going
to drop. What we know is from the moment you begin
to smell the coffee, and get the milk and the sugar and get yourself ready to drink,
your dopamine concentrations are increasing over time, so this is what’s going on in your
game design. We’re trying to build these elements in a
game that are going to increase dopamine which is the desire to do something and get rewarded,
but we know as soon as they have the goal, that’s going to drop and we’re going to need
a second reward. This is the nature of dopamine, the nature
of keeping someone in the game, of always wanting more and more. Look at how gambling works in casinos. People just want the next loop. These are called multiple compulsion loops. We spoke of them in other podcasts. This is the idea that you want many things
to do in the game that are going to trigger dopamine release in the brain and produce
these compulsion activities. Ultimately, we want dopamine, norepinephrine
and serotonin levels. We’re kind of playing with all of these, so
we’re trying to bring some of these neuroscientific principles into action. We’re not going to break this down in too
much detail. I think you already get the idea about dopamine
and some of these neurotransmitters such as serotonin and the part they play. What’s interesting and what we would conclude
with is the work in 5-HTA receptors especially the type two receptors that seem to be related
to broad behavioral change. It appears if we stimulate serotoninergic
receptors the right way by giving entirely new ways of looking at the world, ways of
reconceiving problems, reframing, re-conceptualizing, we’re engaging these 5-HTA receptors in the
cortex. It appears that we have this ability to look
at the world in dramatically new ways. This is one of the higher level goals that
you would have in producing a learning game design, to really get the person to see the
world through the standpoint of being a psychologist or being a master planner and contractor,
to really kind of reshape how people organize information in a fundamental way. These are the kind of things you can do by
being in a game world where you apply these rules to reality and reality reflects the
changes the player has made. Serotonin similarly as a self-soothing chemical,
so in game design we want to provide a lot of elements of serotonin release. This has to do with activities that make the
person feel good, and feeling good is solving a difficult problem, and when you solve it
you feel great. Dopamine is these kind of things which make
you want more and more reward, but we want them to be some kind of acknowledgement, and
the way we can increase these serotonin levels often has a lot to do with how much of a reward
we actually build into the game. Leading up to the reward we have dopamine
release, but after reward it’s serotonin release increases. Serotonin is about feeling good, a feeling
of accomplishment, so you want there to be these way points of accomplishment. You don’t want to game to just provide constant
challenges, but no real feeling of satisfaction that’s built into the game system. We also want to build oxytocin into games,
which regulates social circuitry, and we know that we want people to be really, really excited
about working with other people and we want to feel this sense of connectedness with other
people, and this is going to enhance learning. When there’s a lot of neuroendocrine inputs
as oxytocin release occurs, so emotional and social regulation is going to occur, and this
is why we often have people work in groups, so that there is this sense of community building
and also enjoying rewards together as a group. We know from the work of oxytocin and digital
media that we have oxytocin nasal strays, instant trust, and this is the whole idea
that we relate to computers very much like we relate to people, so if someone slaps us
around in the computer with a bad website or we read Facebook posts that are very disturbing,
we relate to it like we relate to a real person. We might get angry with the poster, we might
get angry with Facebook, we might get angry with the website, so remember that in the
digital medium we can influence feelings of connectedness by building the web experience
using the user experience for the game be one which is inviting. Because as the person plays the game, the
game is almost going to be like a human being, and we have to be sort of aware of this. The other thing we got last, and to conclude
on and to be aware of is the role of cortisol in games, and that if we have cortisol release
that’s constant, we’re under stress in the game, then we can’t learn effectively, but
if cortisol release occurs in short bursts, we can actually see heightened arousal, and
we can see people really develop well in the game using stress mechanics like timers and
setting time limits on things to make people kind of encaged. The last neurotransmitter that we consider,
there’s not much literature on it in learning, but we know it’s a major learning neuromodulator
here. This is misspelled in this slide, neurotransmitter,
but essentially, neurotension as a lot to do with learning, and it seems to be key involved
in mentalizing, and that is the ability to actually see what another person’s doing to
understand their point of view, what we might call empathizing. Can you build some neurotension based activities
into your game, do you have ways for people to try to get behind the cockpit of another
person? Maybe you’re learning to be a pilot. Can you get behind the brain of what it’s
like to be a pilot who’s working a very difficult, kind of route and encountering inclement weather,
et cetera. How can you actually do it? How can we build these in, and usually we
do that with things like VR and role playing within the game, which comes back to our original
statement about avatar development. Can we actually have people take on the point
of view of an experienced professional and try to see the world through those eyes through
some of these changes? I hope today has been very interesting in
wrapping up our little series of presentations on how to use the literature informed game
design to move people in higher education to more refined and more effective authentic
alignment in outcomes in education. David Chandross for the Centre for Teaching
& Learning here at Humber College, we’ll see you next week. We read the journals so you don’t have to,
and we’ve maybe given you a little bit of a background to get you excited about building
your first open world game designs. Thank you.

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