August 9, 2017

Watchworthy Wednesday: Get Your Game On with Research, Design Workshops

Category: Edtech
Game displayed on computer moniter

If you’re interested in gaming research, how to design educational games and how gaming can be used to promote learning and social impact, you should check out this year’s two gaming workshops at the 8th annual Digital Media and Learning Conference.

Designing Learning Games

Eric Klopfer and Scot Osterweil, of MIT’s Education Arcade, are leading the workshop on “Designing Learning Games — an XCD approach.” 

“Our work in designing learning games has evolved into a framework of design principles for what we call ‘Resonant Games’ — games that are designed for the whole learner as well as communities of learning, emphasizes and leverages the social nature of play and learning, and supports the intersection of knowledge, skills and practices in society,” Klopfer and Osterweil noted. “At the heart of this design approach is a process called ‘XCD’ — a simplified version of ‘evidence-centered design’ that is meant to be practical and create a coherent foundation for a learning game design that aligns learning goals, experiences and evidence of learning. Together, these offer a learning game design approach and practice to create powerful and engaging learning game experiences.”

Klopfer and Osterweil will introduce XCD and guide workshop participants through a prototyping process to design their own games. Their workshop will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at the University of California, Irvine campus. Space is limited and registration will close once the workshop is full.

Games for Impact

After Klopfer and Osterweil’s workshop, UCI professors and gaming experts Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire will present “Games for Impact in the Trump Era: What Do We have to Contribute?

“The recent electoral upset and subsequent cultural divide in the U.S. has left scholars across all domains uneasy about the role of scholarly discourse in contemporary public discussion and unsure about their professional contribution to the rising social and political problems of our time: alternative facts and propaganda, satire instead of serious discourse, a politics of anger and resentment, the resurgence of racism and sexism, voter suppression, right wing media bias, and a reckless tweeting president,” they said. “Are games and game culture part of the problem? Part of the solution? Both? Or, are they utterly irrelevant? What ought to be our most pressing agenda right now as we face the threat of constitution crisis, a cynical public, and an increasing divide between isolationists and globalists?”

Steinkuehler and Squire will explore the contributions games for impact could or should make to today’s pressing social and political issues. Topics include constructive and critical views, including but not limited to: information literacy beyond game forums, the perils of theorycrafting in the age of information echo chambers, games for civic participation, the perils of gamification of governance, games as a simulated surrogate for social activism, and the problem of transfer from virtual to political efficacy.

For their workshop, participants are being asked to submit short essays that will be the focus of discussion. The essays will be considered for publication. Those interested in attending the Oct. 4 afternoon workshop must apply and submit their essays by Aug. 31. Those accepted to participate will be notified in September.

The games workshops are among the conference’s 10 workshops taking place at UCI. For more information, visit The cost for those who sign up for both games workshops is $100. Registration for a single workshop is $75.

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Banner image credit: UCI/photo by Steve Zylius