Category Archives: York College Transformative Games Initiative

York College Transformative Games Initiative

I’m very happy to announce that there is plenty of interest and support among the faculty, students, and administration to officially launch the York College Transformative Games Initiative. The objective of this committee will be to provide information about game-based learning, organize local efforts to incorporate games into the classroom, and analyze the results of these efforts in order to make improvements. The committee will operate under the direction of Xin Bai from Education, Michael Smith from Performing and Fine Arts, and myself. While our roles may be overlapping, I will be primarily handling the science underlying game design, issues related to in-game assessment of student performance, assessment of game efficacy, and administration of the committee. Xin Bai will oversee issues related to educational technology. And Michael Smith will manage issues related content, asset, and media creation by students and faculty. If you want to be included as a member of this committee or if you want to learn more about how games can be easily incorporated into your classroom, please send me an email. In a future post, I will provide the rationale for game-based learning and provide a list of peer-reviewed articles and books that document the science behind game-based learning. Announcements of the first committee meeting will take place here and via York College e-mail.  In the meantime, I’m happy to answer any questions you might have here.

Welcome to Transformative Games

This blog will document my experiences in developing games for education. I borrowed the title of the blog from Jessie Schell, who notes that the term “Serious Games,” while sober enough to attract the attention of academics and funding agencies, is actually an oxymoron. Games must be fun and engaging to be successful, even if their ultimate purpose is serious in nature. The idea behind Transformative Games is that game mechanics can be used to inform, teach, and shape behavior. Games are excellent learning management systems that are capable of both teaching and assessment. The realtime nature of games allows them to occasion “teachable moments” for “just-in-time learning.” Well designed games adjust task difficulty according to user performance, which facilitates sustained attention, engagement, and learning while minimizing boredom and frustration. Standard psychophysical staircase procedures can be utilized in games to   optimize engagement and put the user into a state of “flow,” where time seems to pass very quickly. Transformative Games strive to incorporate everything we know about psychology, neuroscience, education, and game design into the learning experience.

To help others who might be embarking on a similar journey, I’ll be describing the process of developing games for education as well as issues surrounding Transformative Games. During this summer, I will be working with several high school students, college undergraduates, and programmers to develop a number of games for college freshmen. We only have six weeks to develop working prototypes and present them at a local conference. Consequently, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of valuable lessons to pass along in the next month or so. I will also document my efforts to unify college professors interested in games at my primary institution, York College. And I am working with others at the CUNY Games Network to develop a CUNY-wide institution for games. Our first task is to develop a conference in April 2013. Finally, I’m also developing simulations in Second Life with the York College Center for Interdisciplinary Health Practice to provide students with tools to practice skills that would otherwise be too expensive or risky to perform in the clinical setting.

Expect major updates every week and sporadic posts along the way. I’ll develop major categories in the future in the event that you only want to follow one of the aforementioned pursuits.