Nicholas R. Hunter
Nick Hunter is a fresh grad from MIT with degrees in Comparative Media Studies and Economics. He worked with the Education Arcade for three years as a programmer and designer and conducted independent research on the addictiveness of massively multiplayer games. Nick will be starting with EA Maxis in July, and has stopped off at GLS on his drive westward. Favorite games include Monkey Island, Ultima Online, and Civilization (Guitar Hero is pretty much a given at this point).
So you want to design an MMO for learning?
On the surface, MMOs are the perfect gaming genre for formal learning. They may be gaming's most fully realized worlds, complete with economies, political systems, and substantial opportunities for player creativity, both as a product of game systems and emergent gaming cultures. Players engage in joint collaborative problem solving while developing new identities as leaders, entrepreneurs, strategists, and peacemakers (c.f. Steinkuehler, 2006). Noting that such games recruit players' and expand players' identities, many educators are seeking to create such games for learning.
But is this really possible? Are there things about MMOs as they are currently designed that make them a poor fit for learning systems? Although many educators claim to be building such systems, how many have invested the hundreds or thousands of hours that the average gamer has? How many understand the design that goes into such a game?
This session features Rich Vogel, a co-studio director for Bioware, and 15 year veteran of the industry whose credits include Senior Producer of Meridian 59 and Ultima Online, and more recently, V.P. of Production at Sony Online Entertainment and Executive Producer of Star Wars Galaxies. In addition, Vogel has a background in educational technology from Florida State. Talking with Rich will be Nick Hunter, formerly of MIT's education arcade and starting this summer, Electronic Arts. At MIT, Nick worked on several projects, including Revolution, a hybrid MMO educational game based on Colonial Williamsburg using Bioware's Aurora engine. Together, they'll discuss the current state of the industry, its implications for education, and creative opportunities with the medium.