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  1. kirklunsford

    Another Blog Post About CARP. This Time It’s Personal!

    by, not referring to a fish, but rather it’s an acronym for Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, Proximity. Sometimes referred as CRAP! Or so I have found by doing a brief se...
  2. kirklunsford

    VR ‘Redefining’ How We Design

    SAMR: REDEFINITION. Image courtesy of Christina Moore 2016.

    In recent years virtual reality (VR) technologies have gained popularity for enhancement of a myriad of industries and experiences. It’s hard to dispute VR has the potential to transform. It’s exciting to consider exploring these technologies for the purpose of education, but before putting VR into practice in the classroom, it’s important to apply the study of theory to VR potential. The SAMR model (substitution, augmentation, modification, and redefinition) is a great way to apply rather basic theory to VR tech. Although it’s possible VR practitioners and learners can traverse SAMR, based on how VR is used, “redefinition” may be the most impactful way to demonstrate use of these technologies for learning. Redefinition, in regards to SAMR, refers to the ability for technology to “create tasks and ways of learning that were previously inconceivable.” (Technology Is Learning 2014)

    From the perspective of a CAD and Interior Design instructor, at a career and technical college, the use of VR for architecture and design is exciting to consider in terms of redefining methods of teaching and learning. Consider students who are studying the histories of design, art, and architecture. The typical way we experience these courses and instruction is to explain history through text and pictorial representation. Imagine being able to virtually walk through a setting relevant to the study of history. This is particularly meaningful for design and art instruction where many times the experience and feeling of such places can not be effectively demonstrated. For example, Mies Van Der Rohe’s Core House is available online as a virtual study. When one applies VR goggles to this it’s possible to engage in the feeling and the experience of the physical space. This redefines how we learn about history by immersion in space rather than mere dictation of what it is like. In effect, students can determine what they discovered through the VR experiences and compare that to historical contexts to make conclusions. The ultimate goal of which, would be to apply their historical experience to actual practice in the design of their own spaces.

    Perhaps even more exciting than virtually walking through history, is the ability to shape unique spaces with the use of VR. It’s already possible to model a building in VR, assign materials, and design the furniture and flow of the space. More importantly, the result of VR designs can be experienced in VR by the end users and the designers together, creating greater empathy and connections between them.

    Most designers begin to learn how to design by 2D representation on paper and in 3D software. At the same time, designers learn about the dimensions of things, as well as codes, and anthropometrics. Things like standard counter heights, doorways, chairs, tables, ADA requirements, etc. Mostly these things are a given, but when all of the elements are put together, the space transforms into it’s own functional or dysfunctional place. In 2D and 3D softwares, one can only guess through experience and the “mind’s eye” what it would be like to experience the space. However, with VR one can simply assess the space while they are creating it. Rather than critiquing the space post design and planning. Dysfunctional designs and proportions become readily apparent immediately in the VR process. Everything is formatively assessed on the fly, versus a giant summative assessment in the form of a design presentation including plans, diagrams, renderings, etc. The whole design process is flipped, redefining it. Rather than creating plans and sketches first, designers create the space in VR and produce plans last when the space is mutually satisfactory for everyone involved.

    Like many new technologies, it may take a while to take hold and become a new standard way of doing and being. For educators this is painfully true when it comes to budget allocation and accessibility for students. Because VR technology combines both hardware and software for use, the cost to implement and upkeep is greater than simply updating the software every year. Other concerns from accessibility standpoint would be students who suffer from motion sickness because of the visual interface, or physical disabilities, or fatigue from prolonged operation of VR devices. The final determining factor of this technology becoming more commonplace may be the willingness of the industry and employers to adopt it. Because of these things, it may be a challenge for VR to take off. However, I remain optimistic because of the ability to redefine the design process and experience.

    VR goggles combined with hand-held controllers offers architects "a whole new way of designing" (May, 2016)
  3. kirklunsford

    Learning Reflections of Games and Learning Part 3

    For the final learning reflection in Games & Learning course INTE 5320 with Associate Professor Remi Holden I have selected a few things to highlight based on key participation this semester. Works featured include blog posts, annotations via, and affinity space participation and presentation.
    I chose to highlight the Hearthstone play journal blog entry for many reasons, but primarily to share what I learned about crafting a game and the value of affinity spaces to learn how to play a game well, or competitively. I learned that this game is relatively easy to play, however at a certain point the player inevitably hits a brick wall and must turn to affinity spaces to come up with deck crafting strategies. Or, risk being so frustrated the player quits. I made it over the “curve” and turned to affinity spaces to learn how to play the game competitively. The affinity spaces I participated in were both nurturing and essential to understanding game mechanics and strategies better. “Expert knowledge is pooled”, game decks are curated by professional players (Gee 2008). Newbies have opportunities to try these decks out and critique their play experience. This is the most critical example from Gee and Hayes that was experienced in the affinity spaces associated with Hearthstone. I discovered that I have never played a game that required reliance on the affinity space and much as Hearthstone.

    Annotation via this semester was one of the greatest challenges and greatest rewards. The best benefit to using was the ability to directly express inquiry and discussion to the highlighted text in the document freely. This was more engaging than perhaps a Canvas discussion, but the “open” quality made it somewhat less mentally freeing because of self doubt or wanting to look “smart.” Overall, the peer interactions and inquiry changed the way I looked at discovering critical concepts in course literature. Additionally, I discovered a few ways to be more “loose” with annotation rather than Canvas discussion because of the nature of the medium. However this took some getting used to, the experience ultimately changed the way I imagined theory, literature, and peer interaction as it comes together.

    Reflecting upon the affinity space project for Unity Community, I experienced many things through participation. Through observation, I was able to notice how members engaged the space, and who was contributing the most, and how they were contributing. When I contributed to the space, I was able to see what members actually responded to best. I also noticed personal growth in myself. I learned some interesting things about game design, focus, time management. These are all things I can relate to as student and professional worker interested in games and gaming cultures.

    As I experienced personal growth by participation in the affinity space, it became clear to me the value of learning in an informal setting such as an affinity space. Perhaps the most valuable characteristic of nurturing affinity spaces I experienced was a connection to John Sealy Brown and personal trajectories by committed involvement in an affinity space or informal setting. I shared this connection with the space, although I don’t think it was very relatable to them as their focus was on games. I hope a few members did watch the video I linked and appreciated some connection to their personal learning.

    GEE, J. P. & HAYES E, Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning

  4. kirklunsford

    Who Are Some Key Members of Unity Community?


    The Structure of Unity Community

    Unity community is an expansive affinity space for members interested in all things Unity. There are approximately 32 threads ranging in topics from “Getting Started” to “Commercial: Job Offering.” The affinity space is so large, I have only focused on a few topics like “Game Design” and “Works in Progress.” I just sort of dived right in to see what sort of things people are posting and talking about without exploring the overall structure. After living in the space for some time, I’m starting to look around and notice some systems in place to better analyze who’s contributing, who’s visiting the space, and how members are measured.

    At the top of the forums menu there is a button to click “members” which takes the user to a new page that displays members based on number of messages. These members are listed from the most posts to the least. A user can also click on”most likes,” “most points,” or “staff members.” All of these categories seem useful except “points” is not currently being fully utilized as everyone has 10 points. Although”points” seems like it would be a way to “gamify” an affinity space dedicated to gamers and developers, perhaps it is not being used because members think it might be cliché or they can see through what some might deem as “bullshit” (Bogost 2011). Most posts, and most likes seems to be the best way to currently analyze who is contributing to the affinity space. I’d like to know more about them.

    The Three Most Notable Members in Unity Community

    Based on the most current number of posts, I have discovered three “Notable Members” in Unity Community: Eric5h5, Dreamora, and Hippocoder. Hippocoder also has the most “likes” so I have ignored the “like” category for now to focus on these three active members based on the quantity of messages, assuming there may be some overlap with the number of “likes.” 

    When I click on Eric5h5’s profile, I can see he has listed a website and links to some of his add-ons for Unity. It also shows “moderator” in his profile which would explain a large quantity of posts. He seems to be a programmer, although there is not much personal info listed on either his Unity profile or web page. The web page seems to feature his add-ons, which can be purchased, most dominantly. His news thread features bug fixes and mini-patches to his software. Perhaps his addons are frequently used which would necessitate having this bug or patch info readily available? Overall the website is clean but somewhat cheesy with stars and neon glow (kind of like Star Wars) but things like this are somewhat typical for those of the programmer variety.

    Dreamora’s profile stands out from most others in the space because he included a picture of himself (I’m assuming) rather than a graphic or avatar. Avatar’s are common in gaming spaces so using a picture can be a bold move. What does it mean when someone includes a picture of themselves? Does this make them seem more professional in this space? In most other websites including an actual portrait of oneself is usually seen as professional, so I will assume that much may be true. When I click on Dreamora’s link to his website, I am greeted with some thoughtful words:
    “I strongly believe that it is on us, the current generation, the set the paths to empower our kids and the following generations to achieve greater things than we ever could think of. As a ‘technology geek’ and a software developer, I strive to do so through technology, especially through ground breaking and highly empowering technologies that build upon augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and the open, easy to access technology of the web.”
    Dreamora seems to think of himself as an educator by these words, and I can see he has a “learning” button on his website to link to the official Unity tutorials and he curates a “” page dedicated to “Unity Game Engine News, Informations & Learning Material.” This is essentially the same as the “Networked Learning Space” project in INTE 5665 for those UC Denver students familiar with that assignment. Dreamora is an “Interactive Media Engineer,” that has situated himself as an instructor or educator in Unity Community.

    Hippocoder is also a moderator for Unity Community. His website SimianSquared is a British developer. The website does not feature much other than a large graphic and links to a couple of games created by SimianSquared. It’s hard to tell by this how Hippocoder is situated in Unity Community, but assuming he created these games, or a portion of them, he’s probably pretty talented. I needed to dig deeper so I check out his most recent posts by clicking on the link to this in his profile. I can see several posts in the “DOOM, are you excited?” thread so I went there to check out what he was saying. Hippocoder seems to recall the good old days of DOOM and says:
    “Give me the retro classic turbo charged, or I may as well just buy a different game TBH. I won't be buying this one.”
    Hippocoder in this case has positioned himself as a critic. And if he’s played the original DOOM when it came out, that would potentially put him in his late twenties to thirties. This possibly positions himself as a gaming veteran who’s seen it and done it all at least once, maybe 4-5 times in the case of sequels. I’ve also seen just as many posts where Hippocoder positions himself in technical inquiry. Needless to say it seems he is well rounded and versed enough to be a valued member of Unity Community.

    Being a valued member
    Given the above profiles and assumptions made by provided info, there are several ways to go about being a productive and essential member to Unity Community. However, it’s critical to be seen as credible and useful. It can be seen in postings from each member that they are savy enough to contribute to technical conversations. Each member also seems to be a veteran gamer offering critique on current video game industry products and happenings. They also seem to provide mostly nurturing commentary when it comes to advice. Although the occasional heated discussion, like that of the latest DOOM product, does reveal some mild flaming but not necessarily at other members but figures in the industry or developers instead. I look forward to learning more about how these community members are situated in Unity Community as the affinity space project comes to a close.

    Bogost, Ian, “Gamification is Bullshit,” (2011)
  5. kirklunsford

    Being a Hero of The Storm


    Play Journal Entry #5
    As part of the Games and Learning course and study with University of Colorado Denver Information and Learning Technologies Master’s program, students will participate in both shared and individual play sessions. These play sessions are part of “learning by doing” and reflection necessary to understand what it means to be a learner through playing games. The play journals are a synthesis of scholarship and reflection on play per the chosen game.

    How would you describe the social context of Heroes of the Storm, and how did this inform what it meant to play?

    Game: Heroes of the Storm
    Platform: PC (battlenet download)
    Genre/type: RTS, action hero. Free to play microtransaction.
    Players: Multi-player online or with AI players
    Game familiarity: I have watched media about this game for a few years. I have only played it infrequently for 6 months. I still consider myself a “newb.”

    I have not played this game with other players, only AI players as teammates and opponents. I would like to explore multiplayer matches with humans and a means for voice communication at some point. I don’t really feel comfortable doing this however until I explore more of the game and learn the shortcut keys and various nuances. I would also like to watch some YouTube video tutorials and read some articles about strategies and other game mechanics. The game does a pretty good job at guiding the player through a match, however there is a lot going on simultaneously so it’s relatively hard to follow all things.

    The game universe is centered around Blizzard entertainment products. If you are a player new to Blizzard you may wonder how this odd combination of heroes and villains came together. I think Blizzard addresses this by providing a trailer for each hero or villain. For veteran Blizzard fans the game serves as a fantasy mashup with humorous elements. To play this game you should be familiar with the class types or roles, which are rather typical for Blizzard. Players may also need to have a basic understanding of the objectives of each battleground. Some knowledge of the maps helps as well. The website ultimately suggests to play the tutorials in game first before seeking too much information via the Heroes of the Storm website. Like any RTS, especially one developed by Blizzard who has a history of successful RTS games like Warcraft 1-3, players expect a solid tutorial experience which I believe Heroes of the Storm delivers.

    What - if anything - did you learn during this particular play of Heroes of the Storm, and what lessons (more generally) does the game teach?

    During this play test, I played with AI set to “adept” setting. I played as E.T.C in the Dragon Shire. I like to play E.T.C. “Rock God” because he is rated high in the survivability category. Otherwise I probably would have died more. The respawn timer can be long at times so it’s annoying to wait for resurrection. In the Dragon Shire players have to hold the two dragon shrines (north and south sides of map) then a player has to activate the dragon in the center of the map. This is hard with AI players because I cannot tell the AI to stay at one shrine or another to defend while I take the middle, or devise any sort of strategy. Instead I have to predict what my AI teammates will do then fill in the gaps. I did not get to activate the first dragon in the match. The opposing team did and I defended it fair enough. I did however win the other two dragons and I won the match on the third dragon spawn. I thought for sure I was going to lose after I lost the first dragon because I could not communicate with the AI. However I didn’t give up, perseverance lead to victory.

    So what did I learn?
    • To understand strategies to win map objectives
    • Reminded of short cut keys by in game tutorials
    • Predictive play based on AI
    • Basic talent building as leveling
    • Basic ability rotation based on cooldowns and various types of skirmishes

    Critique Heroes of the Storm: What established constraints, or "game mechanics" (such as specific rules systems), inhibited alternative forms of learning or creative expression? Yet why do these constraints matter?

    Heroes of the Storm has many constraints based on the battleground and hero talents and abilities. These are important because it helps pace gameplay and balance team progression through a map. Understanding how these mechanics work are critical to successful advancement. I did not read up on any talents for E.T.C. but I picked what felt right to me at the time. When a hero levels up during the match, a player can choose talents to gain abilities. This happens quickly and frequently in the match and in the middle of action. It is hard to read about these talents and continue with the action simultaneously. It would be strategic to read up on talent specifications in combination with other heroes as teammates. I also forgot the short cut keys since last I played so I kept forgetting to mount up with “Z” and hearth back to my base with “B.” The in game tutorial kept on reminding me to mount up. This was mostly helpful and mildly annoying. I also don’t feel like I had set ability rotation down, I just used my abilities whenever they were not on cooldown. I’m sure with more practice and time to understand these abilities I could be more effective.

    From our second or third cycle of course readings: What one reading - and specific idea - do you find most relevant to playing, and perhaps learning with/from, Heroes of the Storm? And why?

    The primary reason why I wanted to play Heroes of the Storm was to compare my experiences in a modern, action packed, arcade-like RTS versus what I can recall from RoN and Warcraft II and III in comparison to Gee “Situated Language and Learning” (Gee 2004). Gee describes his experiences in RoN and Warcraft III and ultimately admits his failings, yet describes how incredible RTS games are at capturing learning scenarios. He describes game play in RTS games like moving through a “supervised fish tank” and how information is always given “just in time” (Gee 2004). I experienced this while playing Heroes of the Storm in a ways that were very appealing for learning. Such as, the game reminding me to mount up by using the shortcut key “Z.” The button would flash and “Uther,” the tutorial narrator, would also emote this with voice. The use of auditory and visual feedback in combination with play at the right time, allows learning to be reinforced in ways not necessarily possible in typical learning scenarios. Gee also discusses game experiences in contrast to typical schooling scenarios. Such as players being able to self assess in very formative ways on time and task, versus in school, you may have to turn in your homework before any assessment is given (Gee 2004). I would recommend this game to anyone who wants to experience the ultimate action packed in-game tutorial.

  6. kirklunsford

    Learning Reflections of Games & Learning Part 2


    Understanding of games and learning

    During cycles 4-5 in the Games & Learning course at UC Denver, the way in which I think about games, gaming cultures, and affinity spaces have been transformed. Most of the research conducted during this phase has been on gender issues surrounding gaming culture. Topics about gender in game cultures are interesting to me for several reasons. Firstly, I am a white male who is privileged to be positioned in gaming culture as the dominant “norm.” However I do not identify with dominant white heteronormative culture. None the less, just by being present in some gaming communities, one could assume that I would or could perpetuate sexist or biased notions by being privileged as such. Because of this, it is very important that I do understand these issues. And as an educator, especially in settings where I may be implementing game based learning scenarios, it’s critical to exemplify fairness and equality and understand gender issues that may come to light during game play and gaming community experiences.

    Secondly, I teach courses in a program where females make up approximately 95% of the student body. I don’t think this will be the case throughout my career but it certainly matters to me in how I am perceived as being a male instructor to a female dominant class. And how does the influence of the male instructor and perhaps one male student in a classroom of 16 change the dynamic? If I were to implement some GBL in these classrooms, would gender issues arise based on gameplay and subjects in the games? Based on minimal research I would suspect “yes” as it’s fairly easy to assume most games are created by males who are mostly ignorant to gender issues. Thus, likely to perpetuate tropes against women. And would the culture in the classroom assume some things based on the prevalent male culture in gaming media and communities? Like men assuming they would be better prepared to play games than women because of the association with gaming and dominant male culture. Or perhaps some students would be involved in affinity spaces or modding communities. It’s possible they may face some discrimination or biases based on gender identity. It’s especially important to understand these scenarios as they are likely to come to light at some point in time during game based learning situations.

    My latest research, as well as cycle 4 readings have helped me explore gender in more detail as can be seen in two blog posts and ongoing annotated discussions via open course texts.

    Will Video Games Become "Gender Neutral"?

    The Sims 2 and Gender, Not so "Nurturing"

    Peer Networking to improve learning

    Through both peer play sessions, and social networking, mostly via Twitter and blogging, my understanding of games and learning has been enhanced this term. Although during the phase in the course in which this reflection concerns, I have done less networking via Twitter than before. Instead the focus in networking has been on the affinity space, Unity Community, and supporting sites and blogs. However I have not abandoned Twitter, I still used it to network in different ways with less educational focused individuals, and rather, gamers and game developers. Using the hash tag #gamedev and #unity3d has helped me acquire some followers and helped me introduce myself to indie game developers. Some people have asked me to check out their game and give them some feed back, etc. I’ve also met some friendly bots who have helped broadcast my messages.
    Feels good to be retweeted even if it's mostly bots. I guess I can live with that. #ilt5320 #gamedev
    — Kirk Lunsford (@KirkLunsford) April 6, 2016
    I have also reached out to Curtiss Murphy, a moderator for Unity Community (otherwise known as Gigiwoo) “Game Design” forum, via Twitter, Unity Community forums, and his website blog. I have also reached out to some other members of Unity Community. Although so far the discussions have appeared somewhat one sided (no one has directly responded to me) I have learned about community members via their resources and profile pages. I have learnt how Curtiss Murphy in particular is situated in Unity Community as a veteran game designer. He has numerous resources on his website for members interested in learning more about game design. Such as his game design zen podcast and associated blog discussion. Several of Curtiss’s podcasts have helped me learn about game design and in general life issues around the games business. The podcasts also shows how Curtiss is situated as a mentor and game design veteran for Unity Community. This networking, although one sided and observatory, is a big part of understanding game communities and affinity spaces.
    There are three blog posts associated with ongoing developments with the affinity space project for the course:

    My Affinity With Unity 3D

    Situated Learning As a Member of Unity Community

    Is Unity Community a Nurturing Affinity Space?

    What can I do to improve engagement in the affinity space project?

    Becoming a participatory member of Unity Community has been interesting. There are many forums covering many topics with many threads. The threads seem to mostly be about an individual problem or topic rather than general concerns. Because of this, it seems like engagement by users is limited to 1-2 comments per thread, then they move on. Some comments are never addressed as users tend to skip over some postings to focus on another. Not because a particular post was off topic or “trolling” necessarily, but because there are other, more comments to address maybe more interesting. I have commented in detail on several threads but I have not received any direct responses. I am not sure if this is because of lack of interest about what I am saying? Or if the forum thread is “dead?” Maybe my profile does not indicate enough “status” or credibility for someone to take note? My next approach to improve engagement may be to say less in a post but post more times to several different people. I may also try to create an asset or idea about a game or game object and allow members to critique this. By taking the next step and producing artifacts for the community to consume I do believe I can become a more “included” community member.

    What are my curiosities about games and learning moving forward?

    As I move neck deep into the affinity space project, I'm really curious to learn more about Unity Community members and what drives them to participate. What do they learn about games and game creation by engagement in the space? There are a few filters in the interface for Unity Community to search for profiles based on number of postings, likes, etc. I would like to take a more in depth look at these users with the most amount of posts and see how they are situated in the space. Are they currently employed as a game developer? Are they a hobbyist? Do they work for Unity as a moderator or community enthusiast? How did they become so involved with Unity Community? By being extremely active members I’m sure there will be some evidence to demonstrate what these members are learning about games and games creation. I’m interested to find out if there are some particular things that are explored more in depth, as it concerns games and learning, by creating games or games assets than what could be experienced through playing a game only. Ultimately, I would like this inquisitive focus to allow me to explore more completely the affinity space project and round out the experience to be presented towards the end of this month.

  7. kirklunsford

    The Sims 2 and Gender, Not so “Nurturing”


    The continued scholarship and research, as part of the Games and Learning course at UC Denver, has lead me to explore adult learning, simulations, and gender and identity as it concerns gaming. For the most part, videogames and gaming cultures have been the focus. While I searched for articles related to these topics I discovered “Gender and Identity in Game-Modifying Communities” by Hanna Wirman in the Simulation & Gaming journal as part of Sage journals published in 2014. In this article Hanna describes her research based on email interviews with THE SIMS 2 players in Finland. She also described how the media received THE SIMS 2. Finally, Hanna discussed the marginalization of THE SIMS 2 players (Wirman 2014, 71). Hanna wrote her Phd. dissertation on “Playing The Sims 2” so you can bet this article is an incredible resource on the subject. I was interested to see how Hanna presented her research findings compared to what was “nurturing” in “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game Based Learning” by Gee.

    Compelled to learn about THE SIMS and gender

    Reading about THE SIMS 2 and gender is interesting because I’m oddly situated as a white male gamer whose profession is teaching and practicing interior design, a profession dominated by women. Before that I made games for a living, a profession dominated by men (especially when I was making games), and I don’t consider myself in any way shape or form a typical white hetero normal male. I have two students this semester that have talked about playing THE SIMS before seeking a degree program for interior design. For them it was the first step into some basic design and digital literacies including modding. One of the students is male, the other is female which is also interesting. Although I’ve been a gamer and part of gaming culture all of my life, I have not looked deeply into peeling away the layers of the onion to discover what many would suggest a culture dominated, and in some ways exclusive to, white male heterosexuals. The analysis Hanna provided in this article makes it much easier see these layers and subversive dimensions as THE SIMS 2 players and modders.

    THE SIMS 2 in a male dominated gaming culture

    Although THE SIMS 2 was a very successful game, journalist did not seem to know exactly how to handle it’s popularity. It’s a game deemed by popular culture to be dominated by the feminine domain and likened to “dollhouse” play. This poses a problem for media outlets dominated by male culture as the product is seemingly deemed “too feminine” for proper coverage (Wirman 2014, 74). Males admittedly playing, or wanting to play, THE SIMS 2 suffer emasculation at the hands of peers and society because of established gender roles associated with heteronormativity. Hanna described how one of her respondents reacts to her question:

    HW: Why do you think they [male school mates] haven’t played [THE SIMS
    games] themselves?
    Player 5: I assume they just haven’t bothered to try, exactly because it is considered
    a “girls” game, it would make them look somehow “sissy” in their friends’ eyes (Wirman 2014, 75).
    Hanna went on to describe how playing THE SIMS does not earn the player much credibility or “capital” as a gamer. Because the game is devalued as such by being “too feminine” and not something seemingly more masculine like a first person shooter (Wirman 2014, 76).

    “Skinning” as modding discredited

    THE SIMS 2 supports and encourages modding and there are several types of modding communities. I first read about this in “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game Based Learning” by Gee. As Gee refers to affinity spaces about The Sims as shining examples of nurturing affinity spaces. What I did not learn by Gee and Hayes work was how modding, in particular by skinning, in THE SIMS 2 was considered within gaming communities to be a lesser form of modding. Hanna described this as “not fitting into the hacking paradigm.” Why? Hanna seems to suggest because skinning typically only addresses visual and aesthetic appearances, often deemed a more feminine form of modding. Where as coding or otherwise dramatically changing the way a game is played by hacking is considered more masculine in nature and typified by white male culture. Thus, devaluing skinning in THE SIMS modding communities. Is it women are more inclined to enjoy skinning and be less interested in coding because skinning may be thought of as feminine domain? Is it possible girls are not as reinforced in schooling as boys in math and engineering so that they would be more inclined to coding? There may be some truth there, but ultimately, Hanna suggests modding such as skinning (in THE SIMS 2) involves “taste,” in particular taste for fashion and home decoration which lends this form of modding to be discredited due to apparent feminine traits. (Wirman 2014, 83).

    Marginalization of The Sims players

    Hanna described the way in which the rest of the world received THE SIMS 2 similarly to the Finnish reception. THE SIMS players are marginalized both locally to Finland and globally. Most players that play THE SIMS do so exclusively which works to alienate them in more general gaming cultures (Wirman 2014, 87). Overall the description of THE SIMS 2 Hanna provided was a nice contrast to the more optimistic nurturing view Gee offers. To learn more about Hanna and to see her dissertation on THE SIMS 2, check out Hanna’s website.
  8. kirklunsford

    Is Unity Community a Nurturing Affinity Space?

    BingoBob Profile

    "I don't know what I don't know. Thanks for being patient with this newb." -BingoBob

    A newb’s question

    After spending some time getting acquainted with Unity Community, particularly the members of the “Game Design” forum, I started to dig into some analysis of this affinity space. Is it nurturing in a similar sense that Gee refers to in “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game Based Learning?” In seeking the answer to this question I wanted to see how a newb, BingoBob, was treated when he posed a common and important question: “What do I do with my great game Idea?” Often times this is the question that irks someone enough to wonder if they should make games. Unity, being an engine very popular for learning how to make games or game assets by use of it’s software and learning tools means it’s a good place for newbs to get started. BingoBob’s question overall was received well, however a part of his statement opened him up to some mild flaming, and certainly, some sarcasm. BoredMormon says: “Just throw it away. It’s a rubbish idea anyway.” His sentiments captured a recurring theme in the thread that no one wants to pay for ideas, they want to pay for a playable experience. In other words, a working prototype of a game. Ideas are a dime a dozen.

    Hard work is expected

    Making games takes specialized skills, knowledge, and experience to do it well. But BingoBob said: “I've messed around with Blender and Unity and researched what assets I would need to execute this plan but I just lack the skill and experience. And I really don't want to do all that work.” This statement, although honest, just insulted a community of creators in the Unity Community. You are expected to be working at something. Usually something niche and specialized being programming, art, design, or all of the above. BingoBob seems to struggle with this. Even Gigiwoo, a moderator, jumps in with a few choice words but ultimately reminds him “Like anything worth doing, it takes years of try, improve, and repeat. The answers to your questions are here.” Gigiwoo uses his design zen podcast to help reinforce his stance on the statement and with the provided link. Ultimately this is nurturing and establishes Gigiwoo as a community member who knows.

    How did I respond to the question?

    I added my own advice to BingoBob in the thread establishing myself as a gamer and educator and relating to his struggle:

    Bingo Bob,
    I'm with you in some ways. I often think of ideas for new games or experiences out of my own interest. Sometimes I get so excited about an idea and I start exploring ways in which I can create this experience. What I usually find out, is that I never have all of the skills needed to produce what I envision. This can be discouraging of course, but what it lead me to was finding others who are good at things that I am not. And through the process of connecting with others, I've also found that I enjoy talking about games, playing games with others, and experimenting / playing other people’s games concepts or mods and critiquing that experience more than I enjoy making assets for games. You may find some similar things about yourself once you dive into a community, such as you've done here in Unity Community. So have you thought about being more exploratory in nature rather than executive? Surround yourself with people who enjoy making games, share and critique your experiences. Dive into Unity and a find a specialized niche you would like to explore. Make a mod and share it with others. Seek out local game companies and see if they are looking for testers. Essentially, get involved first, see what you find out about yourself and games. What will your trajectory be?
    Have you checked out a local Unity group you may meetup with in person?
    User Groups
    I'm an educator, here's where I'm coming from with my advice to you:
    John Seely Brown on Motivating Learners (Big Thinkers Series)

    Joining participatory cultures

    I have not seen a response to my posting however I think it’s sound advice and I hope to inspire others by the John Seely Brown video that was linked. In my experiences as an educator and student I always think back to those times where a teacher was able to take a look at me and see my struggles and get into my head to motivate me. Perhaps BingoBob is capable of producing games inspired by his ideas but he’s struggling to make the commitment? The responses in the thread proves there are many people in the community who want to offer advice and help freely. It’s definitely a nurturing affinity space, we are trying to get BingoBob to join us in our commitment to learning how to effectively create games. Many times taking that leap to join others is the hardest part.

    Gee, James Paul; Hayes, Elisabeth; “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning.” (2008)
  9. kirklunsford

    Situated Learning As a Member of Unity Community


    Unity Community, an affinity space for all things Unity and game development is a robust online space with many forums. The study of this space, as part of the University of Colorado Games and Learning Course, is just one of many things cooking in the fire of learning ecology. We have our own interest-driven research, participation in course readings through shared annotation via, we have our play sessions, and play journals or other blog posts. As a participant of the chosen affinity space, I am shaped by these various means of simultaneous learning and production. I am not participating in the affinity space as a typical person looking for self-improvement through production of games or game assets, rather my participation so far is more of observation and research. The depth of topics and technology involved in this space is incredibly vast. Therefore, I have chosen to focus on “Game Design,” “Teaching,” and “Works in Progress” forums.

    Identity and influence

    My initial participation was with the Game Design forum. I posted a comment in the “Clicker Games” thread. But there has not been too much activity there. However, by looking more closely at the thread, and the “Game Design” forum, I discovered Gigiwoo as the moderator. When I looked at his profile, I was able to find out more about him on his web page I was surprised to find a number of resources for game design including “Game Design Zen” podcasts and YouTube videos. There is also a comments section on his web page for each podcast where more discussion can be seen. This is a reminder of the multilayered depth many affinity spaces involve. There’s the forum itself in the affinity space, an avatar and user that interacts with the affinity space, then the person behind this persona and their own website or resources and discussion there. It’s important to understand how others are situated in the affinity space when interacting. Some members may be more inclined to game production, others to theory, others are just starting out looking for direction, and many other possible scenarios. It’s also crucial to pick out certain members as key participants to understand why they are situated this way in the space, and what they offer to the community. In the case of Gigiwoo, he acts as a mentor for design theory and discussion as a video game industry veteran with a lot of experience. And as moderator, he has the ability to spread his influence and direct discussions.

    I wanted to see what Gigiwoo is all about. So I started listening to his podcasts because the topics genuinely peaked my interest. I initially had my guard up about this because some focus of the affinity space itself is removed by being a participant on another website or affinity space, although related to Unity Community. However I thought listening to these podcasts were critical to understand how the moderator of the “Design” forum is situated. Where is he coming from? What does he do? What topics concern him? How does this influence Unity Community? Some of the podcast topics are directly related to games development, some are related to life issues around games and quality of work, and other topics are more abstract theory about games. Of course, topics directly related to games are interesting, however I found topics more about life, focus, and quality of work to be most applicable to me as a person situated in the affinity space.

    What I learned about myself and how I am situated

    As a learner, a non-traditional adult student, with a full time job, a part time job, and a student in a graduate course. As a gamer, artist, designer and participant in an affinity space ̶ it’s a lot to juggle! The podcast “20: How Do You Do it? Three Tips For Getting Things Done,” really made me think about my habits and how I “do it.” I never really assessed myself in these ways. Moving through life assuming more and more responsibilities and interests, on top of profound levels of communication, phone calls, texts, instant messages, forums, social media,, emails, etc. there are many ways to get distracted. Thinking about “quality of work - all work is not the same,” and “focus” was a wonderful reminder about how I should spend my time. Perhaps these are good things for Unity enthusiasts and developers and people getting started in games to consider? It definitely speaks to me and participants in the thread dedicated to Game Design Zen podcasts in the Unity “Game Design” forums.

    Understanding identity

    The point is, in an affinity space like Unity Community, it’s easy to interact with someone in a forum, but there is so much more to discover by learning how key members are situated, and reflecting on yourself as a member of the space. What do I have to offer to this community? What will others expect from me based on the information I provide with how I am situated? Being aware of these things can help myself and others be conscious of the identity crafted by interaction in the space. By picking out topics and discussions concerning specific things where I can offer my expertise will help shape this identity. I hope to create some sense of this before the affinity space project is completed. I’m looking forward to learning more about how my own identity will take shape and how others have created an identity in Unity Community.
  10. kirklunsford

    What’s it Like Being a Game Dev Tycoon?


    Play Journal Entry #4

    As part of the Games and Learning course and study with University of Colorado Denver Information and Learning Technologies Master’s program, students will participate in both shared and individual play sessions. These play sessions are part of “learning by doing” and reflection necessary to understand what it means to be a learner through playing games. The play journals are a synthesis of scholarship and reflection on play per the chosen game.

    How would you describe the social context of Game Dev Tycoon, and how did this inform what it meant to play?

    Game: Game Dev Tycoon
    Platform: PC (Steam download)
    Genre/type: Sim, strategy, indie, casual
    Players: Single player
    Game familiarity: None! Until I browsed for games on Steam, a computer platform for game purchases, play, and social interaction. A few past co-worker and game developers “own” the game according to Steam social network so I decided to give it a try. Good reviews on Steam also helped me make a decision to purchase along with the $4.99 price. Although many of the reviews were sarcastic critiques on games and game development, it still seemed enjoyable. I would expect nothing less from the Steam community.

    If you are a person interested in this product you are probably a game developer, aspiring game developer, or a person interested in gaming business development, or learning. The game is text based with limited interface and choices which determine various outcomes. I decided to start a company with a cheesy, but catchy name, called “Ultrasoft.” The cleverness of this seemed to work well with the writing in the game.

    What - if anything - did you learn during this particular play of Game Dev Tycoon, and what lessons (more generally) does the game teach?

    I was really interested in trying this game out of interest in adult learning and to experience a simulation about business development. The subject of the game, game development, is also of interest to myself and the affinity space which I am participating in for the affinity space project, “Unity Community.” I have worked on games before as an artist, so I have some familiarity with the game subject matter, however I only have a myopic view from those experiences. The game uses a historical context with references only a shave off of “reality.” Such as, literally showing pictures of consoles or platforms that look just like a Nintendo or Playstation, but instead, they would be named something like “Playsystem.” Of course, I have some familiarity with this history being a child of the 80’s and 90’s, as can be seen in an introductory blog post for this course about how I am situated as a video game player. As I marched through the development choices each time I created a new game to develop, I referred to what I knew about successful games in history. This is interesting, because had I not grown up during that time, how would I be so familiar with possible combinations that would be successful for the market? The game allows you to “generate game report,” after you complete a game and to give the player a better idea of what combos work or what attributes are not as advantageous for the particular genre. I played the game until I earned just over a million dollars and moved out of my garage and into an office. I hired two employees and trained them then released a few games. Invites to “G3” started coming in along with potential publisher deals. At this point the game started to get a little overwhelming, but it painted a pretty realistic picture of what it might be like to see what things come into play as a developer. The game does a really good job at simulating game development from a general perspective in a historical context.

    Critique Game Dev Tycoon: What established constraints, or "game mechanics" (such as specific rules systems), inhibited alternative forms of learning or creative expression? Yet why do these constraints matter?

    Although the game does very well at text based simulation, I wish the game had a little bit more personalization involved. It would be neat to personalize the office space. Perhaps game posters about the games that you made, or notes on a white board. Maybe the ability to walk around in third person to walk over to other employees? What if you could create a dialogue with an employee, fan, or other interested party with a more expressive character? These things all have the potential to add a layer of depth to the game that would allow users to be more invested in the story of their game company. However, because the game lacks some of the typical personalization and character development qualities, it allows for quick play. You can quickly generate games, engines, and research without having to deal with fluffy dialogue. I found this to be relatable to articles about Muzzy Lane reasearch and non-traditional learners. Or adult learners with limited amounts of time. Students like these are interested in accessibility and available time to spend in a game. It’s very easy to access, create a scenario or two, and reflect on the results of that experiment. I found this could be applied to other types of employment or business scenarios that could be helpful for adult learners. Educational games for professions that involve human resources, project management, or scientific research could benefit from running simulations in a similar fashion. It helps players reflect on cause and effect relationships and resource management. These things are of utmost importance for many professions but seldom do students have opportunities to experiment or take risks in the “real world.”

    My Achievements for Game Dev Tycoon

    From our second or third cycle of course readings: What one reading - and specific idea - do you find most relevant to playing, and perhaps learning with/from, Game Dev Tycoon? And why?

    How does this game relate to the course readings thus far? I’m really struggling with this answer as most of the readings refer to “children” or “young people,” when clearly a simulation such as this captures a more adult perspective. It’s not networked play other than through Steam. Steam does share achievements with people in my friends list or people who look me up. But the achievements have not brought up any social interactions about the game. I have not referred to any affinity spaces about this game either. It really does not directly relate to any core readings thus far but perhaps cycle 5 and 6 readings will? I think the most relevant connection would be to adult learning scenarios and Muzzy Lane research that was a topic of discussion earlier this year. I’m really excited to have played this game and I hope to apply what I learned to the games and learning course and to games I may develop for adult learning scenarios.

  11. kirklunsford

    Will Video Games Become “Gender Neutral”?

    Wikipedia "Women and Video Games"

    In cycle 4 of INTE 5320 at University of Colorado Denver Games & Learning course, we started to look at gender and sexism in gaming culture. Although the focus of my research in addition to the course materials, has been on adult learning up to this point, I have chosen to dig deeper into the issues surrounding females in gaming. As opposed to critiquing a single article or document, I found a Wikipedia entry for “Women and Video Games” to be very informative and rather comprehensive. The entry has cited several sources of interest, some of which I am already familiar with, such as the ESA statistical information and works by Ian Bogost. I think it’s important to assess the statistical information in addition to contemporary issues as to avoid generalizations that may not be fair or accurate. Through this research I’m interested to see if I can connect the dots between gender and videogames and how this relates to learning with video games and contemporary issues.

    A cultural shift

    As with most video games, a player typically assumes a virtual identity in order to enact scenarios to progress through the game. These roles are typically of male gender, and when they are not, perhaps the female character is over sexualized. Claims of this are evident in games like Tomb Raider. However more recent games (and other types of games) have offered more variety of characters to choose from such as online role playing games like World of Warcraft. The Wikipedia entry also uses a historical context for video games as a product or medium marketed to boys and how this has changed over time. Perhaps the result of this has created a lingering effect on the culture of video games as being “boy” oriented. When we look at the statistics from several different studies from the 1980’s to present day, we can see a cultural shift in video games from predominately male, to practically, evenly split interest between genders. However, some within gaming culture are resistant to this change. Regardless, the statistics show women are just as interested in being involved with video games and gaming culture as men. Therefore, video game developers are making games for both sexes and should consider the concerns, needs, and wants of both male and female players to make the most viable product. Assuming it’s the intent of the developers to make the highest possible monetary return on the product.

    What does this mean for developers?

    In order to create products that appeal equally to both men and women, developers should consider the cultural and psychological characteristics, among many other properties, present in games that may appeal or deter consumers. For starters, game developers may employ more females as part of their development team. Or provide equal play testing scenarios for both men and women in order to assess a game’s appeal to both sexes. There’s also a need to allow opportunities to discuss cultural and psychological implications of a game in the development cycle. Yet these opportunities are rarely afforded as development companies aren’t typically interested in such academic or civic pursuits. However, questions arise whether the game itself should be modified or assessed in such a way. As games are considered by many a form of art, like film, can portray extremely sexist depictions. Or historical depictions which may be inclined to feature cultural aspects that may be offensive, but none the less, were part of the story of the culture from that era in human history. Additionally, the assessment of a game is subject to the culture of males or females that may be a product of society as whole rather than the game itself. It’s easy to blame developers and gaming culture for sexist portrayals of women, however these portrayals may be the result of systemic sexism in society as a whole and gender roles and identities crafted and perpetuated by consumer culture, religions, governments, educational institutions, sports, etc. It’s important that we not blame the medium or developers necessarily, but look at the bigger picture in society in order to recognize why these things are present and revealed in games through criticism of the medium.

    What does this mean for games and learning?

    As educators and instructional designers, we should be looking for ways to create enriched educational experiences for our students. Often times, this means a game or game-like experience. It’s important to understand that there are many games out there, or game like features, that whether intentional or not, can be sexist (among many other negative things). Something as simple as the available emoticons in a text based interface, being limited to male figures, can be problematic for female identities. A recent Always commercial on YouTube drew my attention to this.

    Yes, even an icon in an interface can create a negative feeling and perhaps inhibit learning if it is perceived as sexist. It’s important as educators that we take the time to screen the games that we would like our students to play for things like this. That’s why “gender neutral” games often times offer the best possible learning scenario without biases. However there is always the chance a stereotype or bias can creep into any consumer product, it’s important to identify this and open the topic up for discussion in an educational and inclusive setting. I’m sure we cannot expect the consumer product industry to uphold the same standards educators would uphold. Perhaps it’s more important to teach students how to critique cultural artifacts, such as a video game, rather than to passively engage with it? Will video games become gender neutral? Probably not. Would students who learn about sexism, biases, stereotypes, racism, as perpetuated by popular culture be less likely to create offensive artifacts? I have a feeling the answer is “yes.”

    References: Wikipedia "Women and Video Games"

  12. kirklunsford

    Learning Reflections of Games & Learning Part 1


    Understanding of games and learning

    My understanding of games and game-based learning (GBL) this semester has be transformed by the myriad of ways in which I have been engaged in course work in INTE 5320 at University of Colorado Denver. Participation in this course so far has only taken shape over 6 weeks. It’s really been a blur, and I feel as though I am being assimilated into a culture of both playful and academic cohorts without really being totally cognizant. It just sort of happens in Remi’s courses by implementation of profound ecological pedagogy. Which finally comes crashing into a sense of awareness when reflecting upon the course.

    Through the course readings I have learnt what it means to be a player of games and why games and learning are important for the development of 21st century skills and knowledge. As a class, we’ve dissected portions of seminal games and learning works such as:

    “Situated Language and Learning: A critique of traditional schooling. James Paul Gee (Ch 1, Ch5) (2004).

    “Toward an Ecology of Gaming." The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Salen, Katie. (Ch1) (2008)

    “Games, gods and grades” Fred Goodman (2007)

    “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning” James Paul Gee & Elisabeth Hayes. (2011)

    “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.” Henry Jenkins with Katie Clinton Ravi Purushotma Alice J. Robison Margaret Weigel. (2006)

    “In-Game, In-Room, In-World: Reconnecting Video Game Play to the Rest of Kids’ Lives." Stevens, Reed, Tom Satwicz, and Laurie McCarthy. (2008).

    'Gamification Is Bullshit' Ian Bogost (2011).

    “Reality is Alright: A review of Jane McGonigal's book Reality is Broken.” Ian Bogost (2011).

    “Gamestar Mechanic: Reflections on the Design & Research of a Game About Game Design.” Ivan Alex Games (2008).

    “A User-Centered Theoretical Framework for Meaningful Gamification.” Scott Nicholson (2012).

    “Gaming Fluencies: Pathways into Participatory Culture in a Community Design Studio.”

    Kylie A. Peppler, Yasmin B. Kafal. (2010).

    The shear amount of reading and comprehension of the listed sources in a six week time span is an incredible undertaking. I can say that it would be hard to commit to this, among the many other tasks, of a graduate student without some sort of facilitation, motivation, or driving factor. Which is exactly what was implemented this semester in the course by the use of is a addon to Google Chrome that allows users to sign into an account to annotate a live document. Students in the course were not simply engaged with the texts on their own. The negotiation of meaning of the readings was created by the class as a whole, and a few other influential outsiders.

    The course texts and are “open,” meaning anyone interested can join the conversation or choose to be a part of the discourse. What this means is anyone can highlight an area of text, write something about it, and tag the comment with the course label “ilt5320” and the comments with the quoted text would populate the discussion list for the reading selection in the course. This drives the discussion forward in a way I’ve never experienced before and in a way that was motivating to engage with a text. It’s easy to get turned off to a text if the meaning is beyond the ability of oneself to grasp. Or if the text is frustrating to engage with because the material is out of date or just hard to believe. The ability to express what one is learning, or not, by use of, with negotiated meaning through dialogue promotes deep level understanding of critical concepts. Perhaps otherwise, this level of understanding would not have been achieved by use of LMS discussion or solitary engagement with texts.

    By studying the mentioned works of Gee, we learned how schools and games are different. And how games can often times promote learning of 21st century skills, many times not afforded in typical schooling. The ability to make choices, take risks, experiment, and receive feedback on time and task are all possible play experiences in games. Playing and learning become one in the same. We learned that games can provide opportunities for deep learning by facilitating play by game design, modding, and robust nurturing communities. Often times transcending the game itself and inspiring affinity spaces which have the potential to inspire learning and growth. Salen’s concept of “gaming ecology” reminds us how learning with games extends beyond playing the game itself. Games are systems which people participate as players, developers, designers, and learners. From “Confronting Challenges of Participatory Cultures,” we learned about “young learners” as media creators and members of participatory cultures. Yet there may still be issues with equity and accessibility that are concerning. “In Game, In Room, In World,” captured the “multiplicity” of settings and how games and learning is situated by social context.

    Ian Bogost shattered our notion of games as being “benign” learning tools with “Gamification Is Bullshit.” We learned how game mechanics or parts of games can be extracted to exploit players. And there is a difference between a game and “gamification.” Yet, when gamification is applied with a user-centered focus, when the user is put first instead of the organization, we learned that gamification can be beneficial for learners (Nicholson 2012). We also learned about games design and how learning is situated for players as game designers with the “Gamestar Mechanic.” Through game design and play, skills transfer to promote learning of 21st century skills and contribute to Discourse, and language about new literacies (Gee 2004). “Gaming Fluencies,” sought to make the distinction about game design as a new approach to pedagogy, or “Constructionism,” through the use of a game tool Scratch. Gaming literacy and the production of games involves some level of multi-faceted media competencies. With Scratch, “fluency” is explored by making fluid transitions to different forms of media for games.

    This is just a brief summarization of what was learned through study of the course readings. A great more, deep, and evocative discussions happened within I encourage readers to explore the linked texts and with the “ilt5320” tag to see how learning was shaped in this manner. See course readings.

    Exploding Kittens (shared play session)

    Playing games to learn about GBL

    Learning by playing games with shared play sessions promoted learning by doing. A sense of cognition developed while games were played to understand game mechanics or different ways in which games are understood. We discussed as a class social context, game mechanics, and what players could learn by participating in the games. Some of the play session discussions were held in Canvas, while others, blog posts were generated. Both types of reflective play session practices resulted in better understanding of the games we studied. The practice also contributes to a more holistic approach to GBL, rather than simply theorizing or reading about games, we played them too. You can learn more about some of my experiences in the play journal entries I created thus far.

    A Life of Play, A Personal Introduction to Games Based Learning

    Crafting Accessibility and Affinity Spaces, What I Learned by Playing Hearthstone

    Preconceptions about games

    One of the preconceptions I had about games and learning was the primary focus of GBL was about games for children. Although a significant amount of course texts have revealed a focus on “young people” my own research and scholarship has lead me to find that most adults are video game players. Thus, adults may greatly benefit from GBL. Yet, research and information about adult game based learning is not as readily available or talked about. I’ve found a similar K-12 focus in Twitter chats as well, such as #games4ed or #GBL. It seems “Minecraft” is on the tip of everyone’s tongue (or fingertips) but seldom do we talk about what games are used for adult learning. This “hole” in the discussion about GBL lead me to seek out more information about GBL and adults. I found three great resources for research about how adults are navigating games and learning:

    “Game-Based Learning and Nontraditional Students – A Report By The Muzzy Lane Team.” January 19, 2016.

    “2015 Essential Facts About The Computer and Video Game Industry.” Entertainment Software Association. (2015)

    “Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games.” New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Takeuchi, L. M., & Vaala, S. (2014).

    Level up learning profiles

    According to the ESA I learned that the average game player is 35 years old. Only 26% of game players are under 18. The “level up learning” survey indicated that 82% of the teachers surveyed play games and 74% use games for instruction in K-8 classrooms. The Muzzy Lane report indicated mobile needs for adult learners (nontraditional students) to access at the right time and place along with five potential directions for GBL. Although, I barely scratched the surface of this research, we can see how adults are very much situated to be participants in game-based learning. In the coming years it will be interesting to see how instructional modules and curriculums will be implemented for adults based on some of these findings should academia choose to heed the call indicated in these reports. You can read more in depth critiques incorporating the research in some of my blog posts:

    What Does Game-Based Learning Mean for Many Adult Learners?

    Who Are Modern Learners and Why is Mobile GBL Important?

    Teachers Need To Level Up Too

    Learning networks with peers and "others"

    As mentioned previously, there is a great deal of discussion about meaning of course texts through the use of Students in the course have also been engaged in social media platforms as well as Canvas (LMS) discussions. Conversations have the possibility to transfer from place to place, however the use of Twitter and seems to be the primary means of course discussion. Occasionally, people outside of those enrolled in the course, have also participated in discussions about course topics. Such as those on the course blog, or the developers, or those others engaged in Twitter chats. My personal choice of engagement is usually by use of Twitter as it’s very easy to connect professionals, teachers, academics, authors, developers, etc. to the course topic at hand. The ability to reach out in a simple and rather informal way by use of Twitter, especially during Twitter chats about #GBL or the course tag #ilt5320, usually yields positive results.
    A3: Incorporate modding or game creation into lesson / curriculum. Ss love creativity + ownership + accomplishment #games4ed #globaledchat
    — Kirk Lunsford (@KirkLunsford) January 22, 2016

    Why are games so useful as learning tools?

    Games are useful as learning devices because they have the ability to provide learning experiences that promote skills and knowledge that otherwise may not be achieved through typical education. What Gee refers to as big “G” games or “Games+,” games that offer opportunities to mod, design, or become members of participatory cultures usually lend themselves to the exploration and demonstration of 21st skills and knowledge. (Gee 2004) Games offer mechanics that serve players by providing feedback and assessment while performing certain tasks. They allow players to make choices and take risks that may not have any real consequences, i.e. a failing grade for the course. They shape identities and create roles for players to enact. Social learning is common, accepted, and typical for gaming environments. All of these things are rarely typical for people to experience while attending a lecture, or doing homework, or sitting in a classroom quietly writing. Not to suggest that all learning should be done in a game or about games, but implementation of the right kinds of gaming experiences combined with other curricular activities create opportunities for growth and learning that may not otherwise be achieved.

    What am I curious to learn about gbl?

    As I continue to move forward through the semester in the games & learning course, I’m looking forward to learn how, and under what circumstances, instructors for higher ed courses integrated game-based learning. From the Muzzy Lane study, I learned that non-traditional students pursue online classes and make education fit in time chunks that work for them. They may have a career, family, and other life circumstances that prevent them from being engaged for long periods of time during typical daytime hours. Mobile is also important for these types of learners. I also learned that most gamers are adults averaging 35 years old according to the 2015 survey by ESA. Assuming most adults play games, and have access to online course via computers or mobile devices, there are some clear opportunities to implement game-based curriculums for adults. I wish to continue looking for ways in which some programs have made this possible, which will be the focus of my continued scholarship in GBL.

    “Situated Language and Learning: A critique of traditional schooling. James Paul Gee (Ch 1Ch5) (2004).
    “Toward an Ecology of Gaming." The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning. Salen, Katie. (Ch1) (2008)
    “Games, gods and grades” Fred Goodman (2007)
    “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning” James Paul Gee & Elisabeth Hayes. (2011)
    “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.” Henry Jenkins with Katie Clinton Ravi Purushotma Alice J. Robison Margaret Weigel. (2006)
    “In-Game, In-Room, In-World: Reconnecting Video Game Play to the Rest of Kids’ Lives." Stevens, Reed, Tom Satwicz, and Laurie McCarthy. (2008).
    'Gamification Is Bullshit' Ian Bogost (2011).
    “Reality is Alright: A review of Jane McGonigal's book Reality is Broken.” Ian Bogost (2011).
    “Gamestar Mechanic: Reflections on the Design & Research of a Game About Game Design.” Ivan Alex Games (2008).
    “A User-Centered Theoretical Framework for Meaningful Gamification.” Scott Nicholson (2012).
    “Gaming Fluencies: Pathways into Participatory Culture in a Community Design Studio.” Kylie A. Peppler, Yasmin B. Kafal. (2010).
    “Game-Based Learning and Nontraditional Students – A Report By The Muzzy Lane Team.” January 19, 2016.
    “2015 Essential Facts About The Computer and Video Game Industry.” Entertainment Software Association. (2015)
    “Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games.” New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Takeuchi, L. M., & Vaala, S. (2014).
  13. kirklunsford

    My Affinity With Unity 3D



    As part of the graduate course work in INTE 5320 at University of Colorado Denver, and continued scholarship in games & learning, I’m sharing my experiences as a participant in an affinity space about games and games & learning. This is an ongoing project focused on affinity spaces and participatory cultures with syntheses of theory and the works of James Paul Gee and Elizabeth Hayes “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning.”


    I’m a gamer, game artist, and wanna-be game creator or developer. I’ve “paid my dues” so to speak as an artist in the game industry for six plus years (see example of work here). There were moments of incredible satisfaction and joy in work. But since the mobile game market exploded (sometime between the iPhone 3 and 4), I can say my interest in the types of games I’m willing to be part of has dramatically declined. I started to ask myself why? Why would I want to spend my day making sprites for monotonous and boring clicker games? As an artist and gamer, I crave big worlds rich in beauty and steeped in history. But above all else, I want my work to mean something. I didn’t want to wake up one day and realize I spent my entire career making graphics for enhanced frontal lobotomies. I’m still on a five year hiatus from working full time in the games industry. I’ve been on a search for meaning and purpose beyond the bottom line, which brought me to University of Colorado Denver to study, among many other things, games and learning or GBL. My hope for games, in particular digital games, has been renewed. As I progress through my career as an instructional designer, I really hope I have the chance to be a part of a digital game development team once again, with a focus on education and value for human development.

    Source:Unity Community

    The Affinity Space Unity Community

    To be more engaged with the video game development community again, I chose to take a closer look at Unity Community as an affinity space about the engine and games in general. I have used this engine before for a couple of brief projects but nothing too fancy. However what I do know about the engine is that it’s very intuitive and easy to learn with a robust community of avid players, tinkerers, and developers. There are also local developers in Colorado that I have worked with before who are using Unity to make games, as well as Colorado Unity Dev’s, who may offer a more face to face encounter with an affinity space about Unity.

    The Unity Community offers many forums for discussion, but of primary focus for games and learning, I will participate in “Game Design,” “Teaching,” and “Works in Progress.” These forums offer rich opportunities to observe, learn, interact, reflect, and develop a sense of identity through participation in the affinity space. Although the ultimate goal of interacting with this space is educational in nature, I hope that I would have learnt enough about Unity to begin to create a game of my own interest-driven choice. My creations will further enhance my ability to participate in the space. I will no longer be observing and commenting, but actively contributing content. Which of course, community members are open to critique, in turn, offering a unique chance for myself to reflect upon my own learning experience.

    Initial Impressions

    I’ve only been involved with Unity Community for a couple of weeks. Because I’m not a prolific and well versed Unity developer, and because game design isn't my day job, I’m initially prone to being more observational in nature. If I was neck deep in a game and needed help figuring some nuances out, my engagement in this affinity space would probably be different. I’m a casual member only at this time. This gives me the luxury of being very intentional. I dove into the “Game Design” forum first to observe discussions about games. A thread already caught my eye as being directly relatable to course readings for INTE 5320. In cycle 3 of course readings in the Games & Learning course at UC Denver, there’s been lot’s of discussion about Ian Bogost and “Gamification is Bullshit.” Gigiwoo, a member of Unity Community, started a thread titled “[Discuss] The Design of Clicker Games!” In his initial post he mentioned Ian Bogost and his Cow Clicker game, a game that was inspired by sadistic satire of social games. Gigiwoo mentioned that clicker games, or “incremental games,” have become their own genre and he wants to know what we can learn from them. The thread of comments looks pretty impressive and people are really adding their critique of the genre seriously. It’s this ability to connect with other designers or developers who have so much experience and history with games that makes Unity Community compelling to me. I can’t wait to see what I will learn, who I will meet, and what I will do with this affinity space.
  14. kirklunsford

    Teachers Need To Level Up Too


    When considering a digital game based learning curriculum, there are potentially many barriers. Curriculum requirements, game content, accessibility, and community support to name a few. But what about the teachers themselves? What kinds of teachers are using games in their classroom? Could the teachers be a barrier to the digital game based learning (DGBL) curriculum? An article I read last week from called “Strategies to Level Up Learning” by Matthew Farber briefly addressed some of these questions while examining a 2014 report titled “Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games.” The article really piqued my interest because I am very interested in how adults are navigating DGBL as learners and also in teaching scenarios. The teachers who use DGBL in the classroom are referred to as GUTS or NUTS game-using teachers or non-game using teachers. I find it interesting how the teachers were classified and defined in a way that may affect DGBL. It’s easy to think of DGBL for elementary school in so many ways about children, but it also appears to be of utmost importance to include adults and teachers in order to understand a more complete picture of DGBL for K-8.

    Source:Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games

    How teachers are characterized

    The instructors surveyed were categorically profiled and defined as “Dabblers, Players, Barrier Busters, and Naturals.” The article did not go into great detail about these profiles, but it did mention the disparity between teachers that play games and use games to teach in the classroom 78%, versus non-game using teachers only 55% use games in the classroom. A simple solution, as Matthew seems to suggest, is to lower the barriers for non-game using teachers. Such as the use of trustworthy platforms for educational games. Or to provide a “common discourse” about games for non-game using teachers so teachers can simply become educated about how and why games can be used in the classroom. These are definitely ways we can move forward with DGBL for non-game using teachers, but there are still concerns with teachers ability to know enough about the games without actually playing them. Is it still too much to ask teachers to “playtest” games before implementing them into the classroom? I would ask the same question about textbooks. Would we expect a teacher to implement a text without reading it first?

    Ways for teachers to “level up”

    Perhaps we can assume non-game playing teachers, through “common discourse,” could be assimilated into digital game culture, making them more likely to appreciate and play games. Matthew does bring attention to this briefly by mentioning However, this site could be so much more if it had forums and other ways to connect socially. The site appears to only be a service to provide information and news. Wouldn’t these teachers like to connect and talk about games? This question brought me back to the original report. I wanted to learn more about these “Dabblers, Players, Barrier Busters, and Naturals. After scanning the information provided about these profiles, I found the “Barrier Busters” most interesting in regards to “common discourse.” These teachers face the highest number of barriers to DGBL curriculum than any other profile, but somehow they overcome this. How and why? The study offers several hypotheses to explain this, further research would be required to reach any conclusion. However, I found “professional development,” as the “Barrier Busters” frequently cited as engaging with (more than any other profile) may be a good place to start. Assuming professional development helps one become a member of a community of practice, or affinity space, this could create opportunities to network and build confidence in implementing DGBL curriculum.

    Matthew Farber February 5, 2015 Strategies to Level Up Learning

    Takeuchi, L. M., & Vaala, S. (2014). Level up learning: A national survey on teaching with digital games. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

  15. kirklunsford

    Who Are Modern Learners and Why is Mobile GBL Important?


    Designing Learning in the Digital Age - Sydney

    Let’s face it, in any given day of the week there could be plenty of down time that has the potential to be a learning moment rather than wasted in the mundane. Waiting in line for coffee or lunch, on the commuter rail, or otherwise waiting on something. Most of us reach for our phones in these moments and check emails, Facebook notifications, Twitter feeds, or perhaps play games. Since I started graduate school at University of Colorado Denver a year ago, I now tend to reach for Canvas, Twitter, and our course blogs on my phone or iPad. These platforms for social learning are all part of the Information and Learning Technology courses and learning ecology at CU Denver. I have yet to play mobile games as part of the requirements for the courses, but I imagine it would be well received, and highly possible to fit “playful” moments in the learning experience at CU Denver. In fact, I decided to take a Games & Learning course this term due to my own interest in the subject.

    Educational engagement, on demand, anytime, anyplace

    Part of my journey so far in the Games & Learning course has been to focus on my own interest-driven research about game based learning. After reading the cycle 2 selections for the course, and building upon cycle 1 focus, I have come to appreciate mobile games as it applies to accessibility and environment. This is precisely why I chose to examine an article published by elearningindustry.com5 Things Modern Learners Love About Game-Based Mobile Learning,” by Arunima Majumdar. In relationship to “In-Game, In-Room, In-World: Reconnecting Video Game Play to the Rest of Kids’ Lives,” part of The Ecology of Games, by Stevens, Reed, Tom Satwicz, and Laurie McCarthy, as a selection for cycle 2 readings in the Games & Learning course. Although the “Stevens” reading selection focuses on what children are doing when they are playing games in their homes, I find mobile learning, as mentioned in the article, relatable to adult learning and how multiple worlds are blurred by social context and environment. The article sheds some light on this briefly with point “3. Learning and playing – anywhere.” Such as, “making use of non-productive times like travelling, waiting between jobs, and so on.” Of course this could also mean being engaged in game based learning while at a sporting event with your children, or during a wasteful meeting, at the coffee shop, or home. The point is, the ability to access and engage in learning through a mobile game anywhere is very powerful because users have the ability to make time for learning in these odd or random moments in the day.

    Social collaboration and experimental play

    The article also mentions social aspects of games such as collaboration with other players in networked play. It mentions “leaderboards” and “discussion threads” but I also think there is great potential for collaboration in multi-player game situations. Such as, working together with other players to complete in game tasks or missions. With mobile games, really, play can transcend the virtual environment and involve physical “real world” situations naturally. Like playing a sim game to preview tasks before physically manipulating real world objects. I can see great potential for this with chemistry, or biology, or mechanical or electrical fields where it’s important to obtain knowledge and practice before actually, physically performing potentially dangerous tasks. In a lab situation, it’s common to have lab partners which could give additional feedback on virtual lab performances which then carries over into physical performance and social collaboration in reality. The mobile device could perhaps then be referenced while performing the “real” lab task to reassure and reference learnt scenarios in a virtual setting then applied to “real” practice. The ability to have a virtual scenario on a mobile device makes it easy to reference at the right time and place when needed rather than being tethered to a desktop computer, as what would have been more common in the past. The perfect example of this is Labster, and it’s available in a web browser or on an iPad.

    Superficial mobile learning assessments

    Overall the article really serves as a very brief example of what may be possible with mobile game based learning. However many of the points described in the article apply to games in general. I think the writing could have done a better job at describing game based learning more exclusive to mobile. The article could have been written in such a way to call out clear examples of games that involve mobile learning rather than simply linking text that is not directly related to specific games like “games which provide lots of learning opportunities,” (insert hyperlink). Are these mobile games? What games are they? Can you call attention to one or two and make the point more clear? When the reader clicks the links in the article they are taken to GCube, a games for learning developer. I’m wondering why weren’t some of these games directly mentioned in the article? Because the article did not go into specifics I’m left feeling like the purpose of this particular writing was to generate some brief traffic to the linked website.

    In addition to wanting to know more specifically about mobile game based learning (GBL) by reading this article, I wanted to see statistics or proof about what “modern learners” love about mobile GBL. I would love to see real statistics about mobile GBL versus desktop GBL, or simply, mobile distance learning versus everything else. And how do we define “modern learners?” The article simply did not clarify this at all. Because of this, I’m really interested in seeking more resources to help answer the many questions I have such as: What types of fields and students prefer mobile GBL? How can we measure this? Do we give students the option to play the same game on a desktop computer as they would on an iPad and use data to see how much time or tasks were completed on each device? What types of learning scenarios are created by mobile GBL versus desktop? Such as social context time and place - how does this affect game play?

    Know any resources or care to share your story about mobile GBL? I’d love to know! Please comment.

    5 Things Modern Learners Love About Game-Based Mobile Learning,” by Arunima Majumdar.
    In-Game, In-Room, In-World: Reconnecting Video Game Play to the Rest of Kids’ Lives,” part of The Ecology of Games, by Stevens, Reed, Tom Satwicz, and Laurie McCarthy.
    Credits: Photo attribution Vanguard Visions Flickr
  16. kirklunsford

    Crafting Accessibility and Affinity Spaces, What I Learned by Playing Hearthstone


    What are Play Journals?

    As part of the Games and Learning course and study with University of Colorado Denver Information and Learning Technologies Master’s program, students will participate in both shared and individual play sessions. These play sessions are part of “learning by doing” and reflection necessary to understand what it means to be a learner through playing games. The play journals are a synthesis of scholarship and reflection on play per the chosen game.

    Playing Hearthstone

    Hearthstone is a single player, card, turned based, strategy game that can be played against an artificial intelligence (AI) opponent, in “Solo Adventures.” It can also be played against other players over the internet including friends on your Battlenet list. Hearthstone is available on a computer and most mobile devices making it very accessible, and it’s free to play! Playing the game in solo mode will initially unlock cards and other heroes. This serves as a sort of tutorial that must be completed to reach the full potential of play. The game is free to play, but to compete with other players you must unlock cards through purchased game adventures and expansions. These adventures include bosses in a dungeon like sequence that unlock cards for the player to own and use. These cards are added to your personal collection that can be used for crafting decks.
    Of course, you could enjoy the game without playing dungeon adventures and try “Play” mode and daily quests to get new cards. For each daily quest and win the player earns in game currency that can be used to purchase packs. Once a player has a handle on how to achieve new cards, he or she must learn how to craft decks effectively to be competitive with other players online. Players who want to progress through matches to earn in game rewards typically seek out websites that include strategies, deck building tips, and complete decks. Ultimately, Hearthstone is a strategy game played individually but played well through the help of others online in hearthstone affinity groups. Because success in this game relies heavily on affinity spaces, and it’s available on many platforms (thus it is easily accessible) I chose to focus on Hearthstone because it relates to the topics of cycle 2 readings directly.

    What I learned by playing Hearthstone
    The “Solo Adventure” tutorials do a great job at teaching the player the mechanics of the game, like hero powers, the cards in your hand, mana crystals, minions, spells, and effects. The player learns about these things before they learn about deck crafting. Deck crafting can be learned more in depth by playing against bosses in adventure expansions or other players. The game is deceptively simple for anyone to play well enough to enjoy it for limited amounts of time. But to play it long term, competitively, players must learn how to combine play of cards and effects and manage usage of mana crystals. Great players will have knowledge of various types of decks and strategies to be able to predict other players moves and probable outcomes. Think chess with seemingly many, many more possible moves. This level of play requires calculating moves well in advance in order to win the game or achieve successful combinations. You can learn more about how to play the game here.

    The brutality of competitive free to play. Pay or grind?
    The most frustrating part of playing hearthstone is realizing the need for certain cards in order to win against another players or the AI as a boss in adventure mode. To achieve success one must then either pay for a bunch of packs that can be bought with real world currency, or play the game enough to earn in game currency to buy the packs and cards needed. Of course, this currency mechanic serves the creators of the game well. Blizzard needs money to continue to develop games. Although it’s clever that the game is “free” to play, in order to achieve sustained periods of progression, a player must buy something. This model works really well for many types of games and especially mobile games. But it can be aggravating to play, player after player, who owns every legendary card created. Here are a couple examples of the most annoying ones I’ve encountered: Alexstrasza, Ysera, Justicar Trueheart. The player starts to wonder how they can compete? Must I pay lots of money to open packs to get these cards? Or play many games to win currency to buy these cards? The success of the game hinges on whether the player can accept the possible answers to these questions in order to wish to continue playing competitively, or give up.

    How what I learned by playing Hearthstone relates to course readings

    There are several interesting components to playing Hearthstone that relate to cycle two readings. If I had to pick one connection to the readings, I would say affinity groups are very important for prolonged, successful Hearthstone play. It’s very easy to get stumped on a boss or get frustrated playing other players with seemingly unbeatable decks. The ability to turn to websites dedicated to Hearthstone strategies and decks among many other helpful things allows people to continue to progress in the game. The affinity groups for Hearthstone range in nurturing to hardcore, but mostly, these groups will feature content readily accessible to both newbies that require nurturing and hardcore players looking for professional decks and strategies. To name a few of these affinity groups: HearthPwn and Icy Veins do particularly well and have a robust community of contributors. Because Hearthstone utilizes rich story developed over the life of Blizzard entertainment products, and it allows players to craft their own decks, there is rich metagame potential. I’m reminded of how simply it was put by J. Gee, in “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game Based Learning,”

    “Of course, we will argue that a principle of good metagame design is involving players as designers. That is, most positive social engagement in and around games involves, in part, players acting and thinking like designers.”

    We can see this come to life in HearthPwn and Icy Veins simply by scanning the landing page. There are forums for each class, recent discussions highlighted, top decks, contests, videos, and the like, all created around this deceptively simple game. This proves that people don’t necessarily need 3D worlds with multitudes of levels and systems to mod a game to engage people in the activities that Gee would call big “G” “Games” or “Games+”. Contrary to what we have learnt in cycle two readings regarding The Sims. The real key to success is just making games accessible on many platforms, easy to play, and easy to strategize or craft play experiences that can be played in 15 minutes or 3 hours. That’s what Blizzard proved to us extremely well with Hearthstone. I would definitely give it a “Games+” rating!

    GEE, J. P. & HAYES E, Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning
  17. kirklunsford

    What Does Game-Based Learning Mean for Many Adult Learners?


    As part of the graduate course work in INTE 5320 at University of Colorado Denver, and continued scholarship in games & learning, I am commenting and critiquing an article that piqued my interest last week I originally discovered on Twitter: 

    What's so interesting about non-traditional adult learners?

    I was initially drawn to this article about non-traditional students and how game-based learning can apply to these types of students. I wanted to know how the article and study defined “non-traditional” students, and as I had hoped, the article defined them through a range of possible scenarios, but of most interest to me was how this definition applies to undergraduate and graduate students. Such as, students who work full-time, and go to school, who are also juggling family responsibilities. This is fascinating to me because I am one of these students, and many of my colleagues studying Information and Learning Technologies at University of Colorado Denver would also qualify for this classification. Learning with Professor Remi Holden, and his approach to higher education through an “ecological pedagogy,” I am all too familiar with the myriad of ways to be engaged with education - on Canvas, on Twitter, on blogs, social networks, etc. On the way to work, during lunch break, during dinner, late at night in bed, on a laptop, ipad, or smartphone. This is my life as a non-traditional graduate learner. As I begin to engage with the games & learning course, I’m wondering how and what types of games are suitable for non-traditional students like myself who are very much so achieving an education in the micro moments in day to day life.

    About the study

    The author references Bert Snow, Vice President of Design for Muzzy Lane Software, the company that conducted the study, who mentions the process of learning for non-traditional students as being flexible, and directly applicable to the context of study, in limited periods of time. The article also mentions Muzzy Lane focused on “modular, flexible, GBL experiences that address specific needs.” Essentially, the claim is the proof is in the direct application by context and scenario in a game that illustrates a real-world situation as it applies to a career, such as nursing. The article offers no proof by direct citation of the study which it was written about, however there is a link to the study in the article. Interestingly enough, the current status of the Muzzy Lane website is down, including the report of the study in reference. Perhaps the study was pulled due to high traffic? In further research, I found the study can be accessed by directly contacting [email protected] according to a recent newsletter by Muzzy Lane.

    Multiplicities of adult learning

    According to Snow, “games need to fit in with the life of a student who has limited time.” In other words, non-traditional students don’t want to experience game based learning in large, open world, sandbox, multi-hour long sessions, in a basement, on a multi-core computer with the latest graphics card. Games for higher ed, non-traditional students would just be a part of the curriculum that is incorporated into related parts. This again, reminds me of “ecological pedagogy,” as yet another dimension to how graduate students learn. When, where, on what device, and how much time can one spend completing a task in the game matters. It has to fit within the constraints of a busy student and adult life. The ability for a game to be played in smaller, modular chunks, on multiple devices, in multiple settings is the best way to engage these types of students.

    Questions about GBL in adult learning

    What was most interesting about this article were the findings of the study, which this article mentions, are completely opposite of what we have come to know after digesting the cycle one course readings in the INTE 5320 course. Particularly, as how J. Gee refers to “good games” or quality games for learning. Such as games that require 50 or more hours of play, games where you spend time modding or developing game play, etc. These games typically take many hours to engage effectively in order to understand critical components of game play and design. And the content in the game may not have any direct relationship to focus of study. In contrast, games for non-traditional adult learners (according to the article) should be extremely focused on the subject matter at hand, take small amounts of time to engage with the game, and apply to real world experience. The questions that come out of this contrast are:

    Is the stark contrast to our readings due to primarily K-12 focus in cycle one readings? Perhaps in general focus of GBL? Not enough research conducted for non-traditional adult learners?

    Was the study strong enough to make these generalizations? What other forms of research can we use to see how non-traditional adult learners would like to engage in GBL?

    As we progress through this century, children are probably playing games in K-12 classes as part of GBL curriculum (provided it is supported at their school). Assuming this is the case, as educators, designers, and researchers, shouldn’t we be planning curriculum for these students when they become adults that includes GBL since it was most likely reinforced throughout their entire previous learning experience? 

    Why is there seemingly so much less information about GBL and curriculum for adult learning when we know the average gamer is well into adulthood and would classify as a non-traditional adult learner should they be enrolled in school? (The average gamer is 35 only 26% of game players are under 18 years old.) (see ESA 2015 Essential Facts)

    Credits: Image created by Kirk Lunsford source pictures of ipad and maze from wikipedia with creative commons attribution.

  18. kirklunsford

    A Life of Play, A Personal Introduction to Games Based Learning

    (Kirk Lunsford - Pixelated)

    Spring semester, the juggling act of teaching part time, working part time, and taking graduate courses at it’s finest. Which sometimes manifests itself in a game-like fashion! I’m an adjunct instructor at Front Range Community College, and I also work as a freelance designer, and I’m a graduate student at University of Colorado Denver studying Information and Learning Technologies. I’ve taught CAD and Interior Design courses since late 2012. Some of the classes I’ve taught focus on asset creation for video game-like scenarios. I’ve never used games in the classroom (in the way I would really like to use them) because it would break the requirements of the course provided by the state guidelines (CCNS). But my CAD students are incredibly interested in games. I often wonder if my students would learn more if they were tasked to create assets for a game of their own through one of the free to use engines such as Unity 3D? Instead of course instruction focused strictly on a single unit of software such as Autodesk 3Ds Max. I’m really interested in providing diverse instruction through a variety of software and techniques to reach a the ultimate goal of any higher ed instructor, to prepare students for acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to be prepared for their career.

    It is because of my interest in games, as well as my students, that I decided to take Remi Holden’s Games and Learning course. I have a background in video game creation working as a conceptual and environment / level artist, and sometimes user-interface design. I was also fortunate enough to work on an incredibly ambitious game with a small team of developers Jumpgate Evolution. Each person on this team was valued for not only their programming, artistic, or design abilities, but also their continued assessment of the quality of the game through play testing. Playtesting by watching others play the game and taking notes which lead to action, or daily development team playtesting scheduled by the producer. I spent considerable amounts of time studying video games and what makes them tick. Why are they fun? Why are they dull? Why do some games make tons of money while others bankrupt a company? Why do some developers spend years developing a product that never makes it to market? I experienced situations that would lead me to an answer to all of these questions, but I never asked myself any of the questions regarding how people learn with games. If learning through playing a game is fun, could that be the answer to many of the challenging questions developers face to create rich experiences in their products? As an educator, could games based learning be the answer we seek to otherwise dull, outmoded, forms of instruction?

    Before I fully embark on another journey of discovery with Remi Holden and my colleagues at University of Colorado Denver, I will briefly, describe in more detail my experiences with “play” and games so everyone knows where I’m coming from. When I say briefly, I really mean this, as I had to edit my list of experiences to just a few key influencers. In fact, when I asked myself how I would describe my “history of play,” I realized a great portion of my life could nearly be defined in games. It is also of great importance to note “games” are not exclusive to video games. Games can be board games, sports or physical games, card games, tabletop games, etc. All of which are worthy of note and study in games based learning theory. I’ve broken apart my history of play by decade so we can see the progression of technology (and my age) as well as potential trends over time. Here we go!

  19. kirklunsford

    My Intro To A Game Design MOOC With Adobe Gen Pro


    My first official MOOC course and I am happy to experience it with #AdobeGenPro. I chose to get involved with a course in Game Design with a focus on not only creating assets for a game, but also how to create a class or curriculum in games. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised with the interface provided in the LMS housed in Adobe Education Exchange. It’s easy to follow step by step lessons followed up with reflection and critique within the class forums. I can also see a list of students and read their profiles and choose to follow them or share experiences with them. Each user can make a simple profile with some basic information and linkage to their social media and personal websites. The coolest thing about the profile is that it displays different badges you can earn by taking courses and participating in the network. You can check out my profile here as an example. If you are an educator or student, especially one who uses Adobe, you have to check the Adobe Education Exchange out!

    We are three weeks into the Game Design course and I already feel so rewarded. I’ve learned a lot and used Unity to make a basic terrain level that can be experienced as a simple character in the actual game environment. What’s great about Unity is that it is robust, yet simple to average users to grasp and instantly build assets. We were tasked to create an island level, however I did not want to create the typical tropical or desert island. Instead, I wanted to make a glacier level. I found the challenge of creating interesting ice and snow rewarding so I would not be tempted to use the standard textures and assets in Unity. The trick is to create several tiling textures and blend them together with various painted techniques in Unity to make something interesting. It took a little while, but I think I pulled something off. What do you think? You can check out a brief video of my level with some physics assets and see my screenshots to let me know. If you are interested in this course, since it’s a free MOOC, you may still be able to join and catch up with us. You can see the course page here.
    Screenshot in Unity editor
    Screenshot in Unity editor with interface
  20. kirklunsford

    A Response to The Future of Privacy in Social Media


    I was totally fascinated by Danah Boyd’s “The Future of Privacy and Social Media.” I like how she prefaced the idea of privacy with how people act as teenagers versus how they may act as adults and what they are willing to share with social networks. What’s even more interesting, that Danah did not discuss, is what will parents share about their children on social media and networking that their children will feel violated by when they are of age to understand what their parents posted? A child that was born in the mid to late 2000’s (and later) may find it harder to get a date in the future if their prospective date can look at all their embarrassing stuff their parents posted on social media about them. Even more frustrating, children do not own these accounts so they do not have control over how their image or stories about them are shared. In ten to twenty years, it will be interesting to see how children in the early 21st century deal with this issue of privacy out of their control from their early life.

    Mommy issues...

    Danah also described some of the various ways teenagers deal with privacy in their own way. Most of the techniques involve practices to avoid being seen by authority figures or family members. It seemed like every circumstance of privacy violation, described by Danah, mentioned posts being viewed and commented by their mother. Teens may think this is an unfortunate discomfort only afforded to their teenage years. But rest assured it’s an issue that lasts long into adulthood. Although I choose not to share most personal posts to social networks, my sister shares every idiotic thing she does. There were some years of Facebook wars between my mother and sister that lasted well into my sisters 30’s. Maybe my sister needs to grow up? Maybe my mother needs to not worry so much and mind her own business? At any rate, things are usually easier when they decide to unfriend each other and only share more appropriate things in person. I’m 99.99% sure neither my mother or sister will not read this blog so let’s hope I don’t get in trouble!

    Cryptic faders

    The most intriguing anecdote Danah shared was about a teen who would deploy several tactics to make herself visible to the public only when she wanted to be seen. This teen used cryptic text that made sense only to the culture of her peer groups. She also deactivated her Facebook account on a daily basis at night and reactivated it the next day to make posts. This essentially, makes her seen only by the people who she chooses to see publicly. I thought this was ingenious and sneaky but who doesn’t sneak around when they are a teenager? Which Danah tipped her hat to the teens by noting cryptic text and “fading” in and out of an active account as a practice of the oppressed. Are teens oppressed?

    Corporate exploitation

    The final thing I’d like to point out about privacy from Danah’s talk was the idea of consent. Consent is usually perceived as mutual understanding in agreement to do something. How many times do you install software or software updates and read all of the “terms of use”? I just installed two pieces of software last night for another class I am taking as a MOOC. I did not have time to read all 58 pages of the “terms of use.” I just clicked the check box in order to install the software so I can conduct coursework. My thought was, “No, I don’t have time to read this document and watch the 5 videos required for this course module.” The next time you install the itunes update, and you are required to click the checkbox that you agree to “terms of use,” think about all of the millions or billions of people who did not read this agreement. Is it ethically right for companies and corporations to require users to agree to terms that are inaccessible due to length of documentation? Because the users did not actually consent to the use of terms, rather simply clicked a checkbox, are they obligated to use as described in the terms? Do we expect this to become a bigger privacy and “consent” issue in the future? I think this is the broadest use of corporate exploitation ever known to society because we don’t actually consent but because the companies have the power over the technology we need to perform duties for work, life, and school we allow them to use our data and intellectual property freely.

ds106 in[SPIRE]