Bill MacKenty

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Games Developer Conference: Jesper Juul on broadening the game-meme

Posted in Games in education on 22 - March 2006 at 12:20 AM (18 years ago). 226 views.

Jesper Juul’s presentation was really great.  He talked about, as promised, broadening our definition of what games can be.

Jesper had many good points, but I think his most important ideas centered around goals.

Basically, he said goals, while providing a framework for forward momentum, narrow the scope of the game. He explored this a bit in depth, pointing to The Sims 2 and Grand theft auto: San Andreas.  Both games offer an extraordinary play-space.  You could choose what you want to do, and it’s still fun. While there are goals in GTA, they are totally optional.  The idea of free choice in a game world presents as a compelling and engaging medium.  One in which players who might shun games are invited to meet the game on their own terms, and in their own way.

Kind of like how we need to meet our students, eh?  Instead of offering a looong line of easily digestible lessons in which the “teacher knows all”  we are exploring and encouraging our kids to explore, a learning space.  Cool stuff.

Another point Jesper made I think worth mentioning is equating games to languages.

Some games have:

Small vocabulary, flexible syntax
Small vocabulary, rigid syntax
Large vocabulary, very rigid syntax
Large vocabulary, flexible syntax.

It is basically a neat framework for understanding what we can do in a game world.

I’m off to Florida after this, to accept an award for  I can’t wait to see the folks from eSchool News!