Designing missions/tasks/activities in First Person Learners

A couple of useful chats with some colleagues here has lead me to the term First Person Learner instead of the somewhat more unwieldy First Person Shooter with the Shooting. (Although another chat still has me thinking about ways to have learning and shooting co-existing).

As for designing the missions – it occurred to me this morning that one of the reasons I’m having such difficulty writing these activities is that I’m trying to work in a field that I’m unfamiliar with. What I’m going to try now is to create some mini lesson plans for each activity and see if that doesn’t come out a little better – give it all aims and outcomes and content and hope that the teacherly part of my brain is able to translate a real world activity to the gamespace.

Stay tuned.

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One Response to Designing missions/tasks/activities in First Person Learners

  1. Leonard Low says:

    I’ve been thinking over some of our conversations wrt FPLs, (“Furpals”? sounds cuddly, LoL), and trying to figure out the intrinsic parallels between learning and these 3D environments – in particular games. From my work with mobile learning, I’ve found that if you design your learning to be in-step with the intrinsic strengths of the tool you’re working with, it becomes far easier to design good learning. Indeed, to do otherwise – to ignore, or attempt to fight the “features” of your medium – tends to inhibit the learning experience, because the learner has to learn to get around all of the barriers thrown up by the medium, and in a worst-case scenario they spend all their time learning how to play the game, rather than having a learning experience through the game.

    So I’ve come up with a bit of a short-list of FPL “features,” where elements of the game itself provide useful learning tools. Here are some of my ideas:

    1. Real World Modelling = Locational Contextualisation of Learning
    Obviously, it’s possible to build whole environments where the game world is modelled on a real place. When this happens, the learning can be linked to a particular physical location in the real world, so that the learner has a real-world context without having ever having visited the real location. If the physical model in the FPL is intended to provide such context, then it would be a mistake to “mix” real-world models with made-up elements, as this would destroy the authenticity of the physical context or provide false context for the experience as a whole.

    2. Gain & Pain = Experiential Learning
    In FP games, there a “pain zones” (e.g. molten lava) and “rewards” that can be picked up. This could be used in learning games to represent workplace hazards (e.g. an exposed electrical wire in an OHS course; or a piece of dangerous machinery in a warehouse or construction course) or essential resources (e.g. only by picking up a helmet (a key made to look like a helmet) can you go through the door to the Construction Zone).

    3. Increasing Skill = Improving Competence
    Almost all games incorporate the idea of increasing difficulty to create an element of challenge. In some games, the speed increases, in others, your enemies become more advanced, dangerous, or numerous, and in others still, the problem becomes more difficult to think through or solve. This is very analogous to real-world learning, where a learner develops some knowledge, then has to use that knowledge to then attempt a more difficult problem – learning new skills in the process. In a FPL environment, “levels” could involve mastering some skill or competency (e.g. identifying and avoiding hazards) before moving on to a more difficult task (e.g. avoiding hazards while completing an assignment). The advantages of designing a game this way are numerous, but perhaps the most important advantage of this kind of game design is that it provides the learner with a series of progressively more difficult challenges, which keeps the game interesting, while assuming a low level of entry skill when the learner starts the game as a whole. This is very similar to the way good learning (in general) is structured – not throwing everything at the learner at once, but providing a curve for them to ascend.

    I’ve got a few more, but I’ll save them for another conversation (or at least another comment – this one’s getting excessively long, LoL)…

    Leonard. 🙂

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