Is Our gaMerz L3arning? (Evaluating Games As Shared Experiences)

Jay Laird · Ann McDonald

In this presentation, we present and test criteria for evaluating the educational value of shared experiences in and around gameplay.

We test various measures of sharing through evaluation of two in-progress games designed to provide shared educational experiences for students: “Shortfall”, a multiplayer game about environmentally benign automobile manufacturing, and “Geckoman”, a single-player game designed to teach nanotechnology concepts to junior high school students in a museum setting.

Is learning about a system as valuable as understanding its component parts? How are narrative science concepts constructed and shared through both gameplay and externally through chat and physical exchanges? What is gained by players interacting through the game experience? How is learning enhanced by exchanges between students (and sometimes teachers) comparing and contrasting in-game experiences?

We conclude by sharing how these observations and conclusions are informing ongoing development of multiplayer game “Race For Your Future”, a game about plant biology and the societal impact of increased biofuel use.