HCI2010 – Play is a Serious Business – Bill Kapralos and mSTREET

Good morning! My activity for the day is taking taking part in the Group Awareness Workshop, subtitled  Group Awareness in Online Work, Learning and Games.  Here we have my impression of the first speaker.

Bill Kapralos, from lovely Toronto Canada, has had a long journey to arrive in the realm of researching serious games. His current work aims to improve learning for medical and health care professionals. He opens with some interesting ethnographic / organizational behavior observations. He points out the deficits nurses and doctors perceive in each others’ skill sets, and how this leads to workplace friction. Then he throws out the heavy term, “interprofessional education.”  One of the constraints on his work he mentions is how difficult and expensive it can be to bring together an entire medical staff to have group education or “interprofessional education.”  Bill goes on to present the second constraint, “The millennial student, traditional teaching doesn’t address their learning needs,” and now he enters the space I prefer… VIDEO GAMES! The games are killing our attention spans, but at the same time we are learning, just a little differently. Oh now he is just preaching to the choir, awesome. “Video games are learner centered approach…” says Bill, and he goes on “we are putting the student in charge of their own learning, we are letting them pick control.” His next point focuses on how these teaching games can allow users to experience dangerous, risky, or difficult work situations at a fraction of the cost or risk or real world training. One of Bill’s projects is called mSTREET? Modular Synthetic Training Research Evaluation and Extrapolation Tool, oh what a mouthful. Then the audience mentions the lack of “education” in the full title, HA! Then is could have been meSTREET, brilliant! How cool does a Virtual 3D Critical Care Unit game sound? We’ll call the first level “The deteriorating patient scenario,” enter Dr. House.

Bill is telling us about how adding bits of humor into the game has gotten positive reactions from the medical professionals. When you pick the wrong tool during the operation you get a message from the other staff in the game saying: “This is not the right tool for this stage of the operation,” that’s not that special  right? But the player’s retort on screen says, “I knew that.”

Bill Kapralos speaking at HCI2010
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Ideas from an Interview with Sean Dromgoole of GameVision

Last week at Edinburgh Interactive I was lucky enough to interview Sean Dromgoole for Square Go. He is the owner of GameVision and Some Research, companies that specializes in video games market research. At GameVision their approach seems to be mostly standard marketing demographics led. Lots of statistics and interesting little nuances popping out of the data of tens of thousands of respondents whose data is harvested through an omnibus company. At Some Research it looks like they do the more ethnographic and in depth qualitative part of the research.

Let’s review: you get the numbers about gamers from GameVision and stories from Some Research. Put it together and you have exactly the kinds of things Rachel and I have been playing with in the Patterns of Play Project. We have been looking at ways to unite the numbers and the stories to provide an efficient way to drive the game’s development forward. We tried it with game log data visualizations and ethnographic techniques and Sean does it with massive market surveys and interviews or focus groups.

Check out the full interview (click here).

I have some interesting comments to add in response to some of the things he mentions, but I will have to post them in a little bit. I am right in the crunch time of preparing the masters thesis.

Square-Go: Video Game Reviews for the Rest of Us

I have recently begun writing video game reviews for Square-Go magazine.

Check out my published reviews here: http://www.square-go.com/author/alicia

It is a fun and interesting break from the work on the Masters course because it allows me to write a little more whimsically than I can allow myself to in my professional writing. I get to look at video games thorough my mediocre gamer eyes and tell the world what I think. It feels quite empowering .