co-designing games in education

At Playful Solutions we love facilitating playful exploration of topics and innovation through game design. Which is easier said than done, but also a reason why we design and manage game jams, particularly with people who have zero experience in creating games. We help participants form teams, rapidly prototype game designs and come up with ideas for a specific theme with given restraints. The brief time span is meant to encourage creative thinking, experimental and innovative ideas – which never cease to surprise us.

why game jams?

We believe that, in today’s world, education needs more prototyping.

By designing a game prototype or even a fully-fledged game, participants can delve deeply into a topic with educational value. And this represents not only a learning opportunity for the game jammers. The ideas and solutions they come up with by designing games also enrichen the field in which the topic is grounded in.

In most educational subjects we find there is a lack of interactive and creative materials; games are just one such example. Furthermore, the minds of artists and designers such as our game jammers rarely latch on to these subjects in the first place, making the game jam the perfect door-opener to create interest around any theme.      

our project

One of the game jams we facilitated for students was the one developed for the “Evolution of Minerals” exhibition at the Natural History Museum in Vienna in May 2019. Using the model created for We Make Games, we grouped pupils with different backgrounds and launched them a mineral-themed challenge, which eventually brought 4 different games to light.  

The goal: a digital game for the museum’s digital exhibition

  • Transforming the learning contents of the museum’s exhibition into an entertaining and up-to-date medium
  • Bottom-up approach: Pupils develop their own teaching materials

The setup: 5 days Game Jam

  • Pupils of various specializations and classes of HTL Spengergasse and Graphischen
  • Facilitation by Playful Solutions & support by Mi’pu’mi Games, content expertise from NHM faculty

The result: 100% success rate

  • 4 digital games with learning content on minerals (earth phases, mineral diversity, mining & processing, museum navigation)

The 4 games can now be played on the museum’s website

Pupils working in teams to design mineral-themed games during the game jam week at Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, May 2019.

in their words

Dr. Susanne Mayrhofer – Exhibition & Education @ NHM:

We wanted to provide an introduction to the world of minerals and to convey the connection between the development of life and the development of minerals.

The goal of the Game Jam at the NHM Vienna was, on the one hand, the participation of pupils in scientific dialogue and, on the other, the testing of their own abilities and their interest in working in a massively growing industry – the video game industry.

Pupils:

I have experienced how teamwork works. Managing to-do lists and communicating the results, the importance of talking in general, no matter how stupid the thoughts might seem at the beginning.

I got to learn a lot of new programs and got tips from other students and experts.

Now I have a better idea of what it means to work with different people.

It’s actually a lot of fun to have so many things to do!

lessons learned

We learned that Game Jams are a win win. Participants win knowledge in an otherwise potentially eluded subject, while experts win new perspectives of looking at a problem.

We are looking to bring more such opportunities to the youth, especially in an educational framework.

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