GameQuest: Designing Higher Education Games and Simulations

Christine Lupton · Les Howles · Dan LaValley · David Gagnon · Chris Blakesley

Experience our quest for designing simulations and games for higher education. This interactive presentation uses the game structure of a quest to involve the audience in our journey. Join us for The Call to Adventure, The Road of Trials, and A Return to the Ordinary World. Participants will learn how to simultaneously make instructional, game, and software design decisions through the interactive presentation of our lessons learned.

Computer games and simulations have the potential to broadly transform teaching and learning. As learners can interact with simulations in a scaffolded, game-based manner, real-world application and teacher-student exchanges can be enhanced. Existing research on these technologies has been driven by military and K–12 educational needs; now research is also emerging on the use of games and simulations within higher education. Within this context our university-based program (Engage, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison) is currently creating thirteen computer games and simulations for course topics ranging from cryogenics to music theory.

This interactive workshop uses a quest-based role-playing game (GameQuest) based on Engage’s experience with designing games and simulations for higher education. In this session, participants will attempt to grow a concept into a product by negotiating the co-existence of software design, instructional design, and game design. In the game, participants will create educational games in a grassroots manner with collaborative teams including faculty, instructional designers, programmers, and evaluators. The game will move participants through the design phases of addressing a curriculum, creating a simulation, and choosing game elements — all within budget and deadline constraints. Following gameplay, the GameQuest experience and design processes will be discussed.