EAPRIL 2014 Conference: Seeing Sound

Posted by steven on Friday December 5th 2014 at 21:14

Our arrival at the EAPRIL conference on November 26th did not go unnoticed, though this was exclusively due to the fact that the Barcelona football team, who played their Champions League game against Apoel Nicosia that evening, was staying in the conference hotel. Excitement!

Needless to say, this degree of sensation would not be equaled in the days that followed, even though many conference presenters (including myself) did the best they could to turn their sessions into interactive and audioviosual experiences. Most presentations we attended were highly academic: solidly rooted in educational theory and with presentation of sound research methodology. This contributed to a high overall quality of the conference, and I returned home with tons of fresh ideas for teaching techniques I can use in my classes.

Initially I was a bit concerned that the predominantly academic crowd would be only moderately interested in the practical workshop I was organising, which was based on the creative workshop format used in the Seeing Sound course module (and research project). Luckily a good number of very motivated participants attended the workshop, and this produced some cool results!

The goal of the workshop was simple: participants had to create a moodboard for a short movie, just like our students have to do in the Seeing Sound course. We suspected this would be the best way to make our audience experience what it means to adopt a truly interdisciplinary approach in a course module. All participants, mostly educators and literature scientists, admitted that having to think in terms of music and images entailed a huge step away from their confort zone. As such they were literally confronted with the challenges our students face in the Seeing Sound module: composers are asked to think in terms of visuals and animation film makers are asked to think in terms of audio. This enabled us to demonstrate the educational techniques we use in the Seeing Sound module, and to explain that a creative workshop is a very useful format to integrate different teaching strategies.

All in all this was a very insightful experience. The storyboard/score documents our participants created can further be used as research material in our search for a jargon-neutral language to describe the flow of a movie in the conceptual stage.

JamToday Game Jam – 3-4-5 oktober 2014

Posted by veerle on Tuesday August 26th 2014 at 14:33

The JamToday gamejam, Belgium of this year is organised by MAD Faculty, Genk (http://www.mad-fac.be/). It will take place from October 3rd till October 5th 2014 at the newly renovated C-Mine Crib, Genk.

The theme for this year is learning ICT skills through games. The participants will design and prototype a game that tackles one specific aspect of ICT learning.

Registration is openhttp://www.jamtoday.eu/?blogpost=registration-form-available

More info on the JamToday project: http://www.jamtoday.eu


Vice City Virtue: Moral Issues in Digital Game Play

Posted by steven on Tuesday November 15th 2011 at 12:30

Karolien Poels and I have a book out, titled ‘Vice City Virtue: Moral Issues in Digital Game Play’. The book can be ordered at Acco and Amazon.

In the book we collect essays and research papers by scholars with backgrounds in philosophy, theology, psychology, cultural studies and communication science. We address questions like ‘under which circumstances is it morally wrong to engage in virtual violence?’ or ‘can games like Fallout 3 or Heavy Rain have a positive effect on our ethical reasoning?’. These and many others! We did not want to restrict ourselves to the ‘games-and-violence’ debate because we are convinced that games are about a lot more than violence and pornography. We think the different chapters together make a good case for considering games as a mature and versatile medium (or art form).

Check it out!

Annual AERA conference – April 8-12 2011

Posted by steven on Monday November 14th 2011 at 17:42

Even though many speakers at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) were big names in the field of game studies (Yasmin Kafai, Constance Steinkuehler, Richard Van Eck, James Paul Gee, Kurt Squire, to name only a few), the conference proved far from familiar territory. Research on the educational potential of digital games appears to take place in somewhat of a vacuum compared to research on the attractions, effects and culture of digital games (i.e. what I would consider as ‘familiar territory’). This manifested itself in a debate that to us was one of the highlights of the conference. In this debate different researchers were exploring the instructional potential of digital games based upon empirical research. Richard Clark claimed that there currently is hardly any evidence supporting the assertion that digital games have positive educational effects. Clark emphasized that not enough is known yet about the interactive nature of digital games, and about the benefits compared to traditional methods of teaching. On the other hand, Val Schute saw a lot of potential in digital games. She pointed at numerous empirical studies, and emphasized that digital games can be useful for different types of learning: learning of ‘traditional’ material in addition to cognitive skills and so-called 21st century skills.

In our opinion, many points of disagreement could have been solved with a more thorough understanding of the nature of digital games, and of research in the more general domain of game studies. There exist numerous definitions of digital games and of interactivity in games, and these definitions might have helped contextualizing the arguments of both sides. In the field of communication studies digital games are being intensively studied regarding the conditions under which a specific social or psychological effect might occur – this as opposed to educational research which too often focuses on finding a general effect that applies to all games or to broad game genres.

During the debate we (=colleague Bob De Schutter and I) decided to slightly change the focus of our own presentation (which was scheduled a day later) based upon these concerns. We decided to put a stronger emphasis on the usefulness of methods and theories from communication studies as aids in overcoming a number of difficulties in Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) research. Drawing on previous studies we had done on the application of cultivation research, Elaboration Likelihood research, and research we had done on game realism, we made a plea for an increased interdisciplinary approach in the field of educational gaming. Following our presentation we sat together with Richard Van Eck (University of North Dakota), to write down our first ideas for an upcoming paper (still in progress!) on the similarities between media research and educational research.

During other sessions different subjects were tackled that were extremely relevant to us as game researchers and (in Bob’s case) designers: How to integrate game design and game research more intensively? (Yuxin Ma presenting a very interesting case with the ‘Conquest of the Coastlands‘ game); How to integrate games in a classroom context? (William Watson and Christopher Mong presenting a case study on teachers experiences with the ‘Making History‘ game ); Numerous studies on the attitudes of teachers towards using games, and numerous case studies on the use of specific games in the classroom (of which we remember one convincing case made by Jayne Lammers regarding the Sims as an affinity space for acquiring various skills).

Many speakers demonstrated -once again- that motivation is a crucial and at the same time very complicated subject for those interested in instructional games. There were four entire sessions dedicated to the work of educational philosopher John Dewey, and to the different applications of his insights in DGBL. These sessions proved highly interesting for us as introductions to the field of pedagogy and educational psychology, and allowed us to broaden our scopes as researchers and thinkers.

Report ITAG 2011, Nottingham

Posted by Niels on Thursday October 27th 2011 at 21:51

Nottingham Trent University hosted The Interactive Technologies and Games: Education, Health and Disability (ITAG) 2011 conference on the 25th and 26th of October. As the name indicates, the conference’s main topic was technologies which help people in need, be it for educational issues, health problems, or disabilities. It was positive to see so many people putting in effort to raise the living standard of people coping with such issues.

I presented a paper I wrote together with Steven Malliet called “Considering Design Concerns in Game for Physical Rehabilitation.” In the paper we review and discuss 21 publications which deal with games for physical rehabilitation. In particular, an answer is presented to the claim that games for physical rehabilitation are too often developed from a rehabilitation-centered perspective. You can download the Powerpoint presentation here.

Before leaving Nottingham, I also visited the GameCity event on Old Market Square. The event presented many promising works by young game designers. If you’d like, take a look at their website.

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