So what is a serious game? A serious game, is a game that’s sole purpose isn’t to fill in the blanks in someone’s leisure time and entertain. It stands to deliver some form of information or training – “induce some kind of affective or motor learning (in a broader sense)” (Susi et al. 2007, Breurer & Bente, 2010). As opposed to an educational game where they’re more so designed to help learn about particular subjects or concepts.
Looking at what New Intelligence does and their client base, I think it would be inaccurate to assume that we’d be making a serious game or some sort of educational game for a younger audience. The audience that this game will be targeted towards looks very specific. For a target audience such as New Intelligence’s client base what types of things could we look at that might help achieve or inform our game design? Ultimately because we still don’t know the problem that this game should be solving we can’t exactly look at specific things, so the search is going to have to be broad. What about playing some serious, edutainment or educational games and looking at how they present information?
We looked at Papers Please
And here’s a good game play video where they describe what’s going on and their thought processes throughout playing the game.
Papers Please is working at border security/customs and sifting through passports and analyzing people to see if they fit the criteria to enter the country or not. I am not a big fan of reading, and at the start of playing this game I approved everyone until I started to get warnings about letting people through that had wrong information. It gave me consequences to not caring. You get paid daily and have a family to look after. Income is based on how many people you correctly permit entry to. It slowly introduces new things that you have to be on the lookout for. One of the interesting things that I found with papers please was that some of the people would try to distract you from reading their documents with conversation. So there’s one way of presenting information.
L.A. Noire is an action adventure detective game. An example of presentation of information that we looked at was with some sit-downs during an interview/interrogation. Having characters or people sat down face to face. This has a very large amount of spoken dialogue. It also has very high end and expensive animations (the type that we don’t have the time or the money for). I mean can you see her facial expressions?! There’s also the subtitles of the spoken dialogue and options to choose about how you feel their answer was.
Along with a prompt of known information.
Duolingo is a language learning platform. In the video above they’re trying to learn english from their native language of Spanish. I’ve spent a little bit of time on duolingo now and I’ve finished the first 5 sections and started the 6th, whilst also going back and building up the strengths of some of the topics that have weakened over time.
One of the ways they teach words is through presenting the phrasing of what needs to be translated, and pictures of representations of the word to be translated. Although only one is correct the other two images have always been relevant and seem to be introduced either in the same lesson or in a future lesson. So to me having an image to associate with words instantly enables me to retain and identify those words in a much easier, and faster fashion.
It also presents translations in pure text forms. You are able to hover over the unfamiliar languages words and get multiple ways that those words can be translated. And like I previously stated, although “la manzana” (the apple) wasn’t used in lesson one, it was the first question (and also an image question) of lesson 2. If you get an answer wrong it puts it to the end of that lesson and you get to (repeatedly) try and answer it again.
It also presents a ‘fill in the blank’ type scenario with a drop down of words to select from.
I’ve been learning Spanish on my android phone and the above is my progress. I often find that if I’m opening duolingo and one of these strength bars isn’t full, it’s a great incentive for me to go back and reinforce what I’ve learn. It’s a great motivator, and I also believe it’s a very reasonable concept to deploy in a serious game. If it is to teach something, giving a visual representation of progress or strength can be a strong motivator.
This is also a photo (of the app) from my phone. Can you see anything wrong with this picture? The options to choose from presents the first word of the sentence with a capital letter. It’s a dead giveaway. There’s a few approaches that you can take away from knowing the first word to the sentence. One could be, happy because you had no idea what the word is and this is a prompt to learn, or (like me) slightly frustrated because you are genuinely trying to learn the words and you’d rather learn through making mistakes.
Without going on to explain every detail of Duolingo, there is many concepts that we can easily extract from this. And they definitely aren’t restricted to only being applicable in serious games either, this can be transferred to (my) normal game development techniques in trying to teach players, provide motivation or present information. This also applies to some of the other games that the group and I tested.
Without knowing what NI wants us to solve, looking at how other serious games present information, when, in what order, what this information looks like and how we interact with it has still been vital research into understanding ways that we could also reflect such ways into our app. That’s not to say that there aren’t any other games out there that can inform our design, because plenty of regular ol’ entertainment games have an abundance of information jumping off the screen. Besides, if NI didn’t want a game, they wouldn’t have asked game developers to help them achieve what they want.
Until next time –