“Play is the highest form of research”, Albert Einstein.
Growing up, my family and I always enjoyed playing games. As a child, I would not only play with my sister and friends but also my parents and grandparents. Their power to pass time whilst strengthening relationships and having fun still holds.
Today, in my home, games are as popular as ever. Although electronic more often than not, we still get out our favourite board games every week. Many are educational — we enjoy having fun while learning.
The power of play
Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to work in different mediums, from books, to videos, to websites. Whilst with Nesta Futurelab, I was lucky to work on many cutting edge projects that involved gameplay and learning via digital technology. Now feels like a good time to return to games.
During the coronavirus lockdown, spending more time with younger family members has been a bonus. They have inspired me to focus some energy on game design.
Gamification evangelist and pioneer Yu-kai Chou created the Octanalysis framework to depict the elements of effective human-centric game design. The framework helps us understand the fundamental human needs an immersive game must satisfy.
We’re creating a game that combats our existential threats
The complexity of our current world, requires extraordinary judgment, decision-making and problem-solving skills. Imagine a game based on scenarios relevant to our current state. Our aim is to create a game that cultivates problem-solving skills which will guarantee our survival as a species. To do so requires an understanding of the interdependencies of our interconnected world.
Creating this game is strangely therapeutic. Pouring oneself into a creative project helps redirect attention from anxious thoughts during this challenging time.
It is also a great learning experience requiring a considerable amount of research including game playing. As cooperation is intrinsic to our gameplay, we are experimenting — testing and learning as we go.
Creating a game is a team sport
Winning the game will depend on cooperation as does creating it. It requires a small team with a range of skill sets, so we’re all chipping in. This is a fitting way of working given the theme of the game.
Whilst I don’t want the lockdown to last longer than necessary, I do hope to be able to complete this project whilst I have a captive in-house team.
What are your favorite educational games?