Game Jam @ EMCSR'14: Game-based Learning in Systems Thinking
On April 24th, Juergen (@JuergenMusil) and Simon (@SimonWallner) hosted a game jam at the 12th European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research (EMCSR) conference in Vienna. Goal of the workshop was to introduce experts from different scientific areas to game jams, as a pragmatic approach for short-term, collaborative ideation and end-user focused experience prototyping.
The agenda of the workshop was structured as follows:
20 min - Introduction.
20 min - Brainstorming in randomized pairs.
30 min - Concept pitches and group forming.
90 min - Working in groups on the prototypes.
30 min - Presentations.
30 min - Reflection and discussion.
During the 3,5 hours workshop 4 paper prototypes of game concepts to the theme “A Cog in the Machine” have been developed by 15 participants:
1. Speculation on Beautiful Mechanisms
Andrea Rossi, Lila Panahi, Andrea Hubin
2. Robots vs Monsters
Johannes Eder, Paul Leitner, René Schwaiger
3. Paradise / Pardise Lost
Stefan Blachfellner, Giovanni Paolo Sellitto, K.T. Zakravsky
4. The Round Square
Viacheslav Maracha, Dmitry Reut
After the group presentations participants discussed their experiences and challenges during the jam.
Experienced challenges and trade-off situations:
- Constrained resources: The time-boxed setting forced the participants to (1) quickly explore and deliberate on a multitude of ideas and design options and (2) subsequently reduce the complexity of prototype concepts to be realized with the given materials in the defined time.
- Abstractness: Predicting the implications of design decisions (rules, goals, feedback loops) solely on the abstract system was difficult. It was therefore necessary for participants to switch to a more opportunistic design approach, where they designed the rules on-the-fly while they experienced the prototype hands-on. Another challenge was to get an understanding about what aspects can and cannot be realized well in a paper prototype.
- Interdisciplinary collaboration: Collaboration of team members from different domains and varying experience levels was challenging in this respect, that it took time for each team to form a common view on the problem and solution space.
- Ideation and immediate exploration of concepts and designs in practice, and the personal satisfaction of being creative and inventive.
- Co-creation: Every team member contributes a different theoretical and practical aspect to the final solution.
- Cooperation in uncertainty: Work together with team member from different fields on a mutual “wicked” problem.
- Game jam, as a special social situation, contributes positively to learning and research sessions.
- A competitive game jam version could be an interesting approach in architecture.
- Co-opetition Jam: An hybrid approach, which consists of two phases: a cooperative jam and a competitive jam, either with the same or with two different participant groups. The results of both jams are then combined in a single result set.
- Moderator role in teams to accelerate team building and a common perspective on the problem.
- Use your favorite resources, techniques and tools.
- In short workshops (~ 3 hrs) with many inexperienced participants, probably a ‘boardgame hacking’-like approach could be beneficial to reduce degrees of freedom of the design space, thus reducing task complexity for the participants.
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