Since the last update, a lot has happened! The couple of weeks after the last update were spent on iterating on our designs in class which allowed for pretty much every group to tweak their existing game to a “final” state. We also had some informal playtests within this time. Our first playtest was with some political science students that were not involved in the class. Being able to hear what they thought about the different games gave us some insights on what would definitely need to be included in our next iterations of the games and most of all if they enjoyed the experience. We also had our classmates and our professors play our games. I cannot speak for everyone in the class, but at least for my group this was very reassuring that we had a viable design that was definitely headed in the right direction even though there are still a some aspects that need to be fixed or changed entirely. It also reassured us that our game was not too similar in mechanics or story to any other group.
Besides all this, we also had a teleconference with the Croatian students in Dubrovnik. This conference opened our eyes to the fact that we needed to in touch a lot sooner with them and also more often. They were quite confused as to why we had separate small games and why they were not grounded within reality. They were also very confused as to why they had gameplay videos and not an explanation of the games. Though we were hoping to gain insight on what type of narrative should be used for our games so they could be interrelated, I think our eyes were opened to a much more important fact. We first needed to pitch our games to the students so that they had a better understanding of what we were producing and why. We also need to have a more constant type of contact with the students so that they have a better understanding about what we have been up to and where they can help give their expertise going forward. Though this is not what we originally wanted from the conference, it was a learning experience nonetheless.
This brings us to our final class. For this class each group took a turn presenting their post mortems. For those who don’t know, these are presentations where you discuss what went wrong when designing your game, what went right, and what you took away from the experience. A lot of groups discussed how communicating well within their group was crucial to getting their design to a “final” state. The class also expressed that if we were able to collaborate more as an entire class it would have helped to be able to bring the different games together under one singular theme. It was also discussed how being ambiguous with details for some of the games was helpful and also hindering. Helpful because no one was married to the bare bones narratives they had, but hindering because depending on how vague, the principles of government you were trying to covey did not come across as easily had there been a more vibrant narrative. After the post mortem were finished we discussed as group what we thought we needed to do for the games going forward. It was obvious that we needed more input from the Croatian students so that we had a better understanding of what the target audience of this game would really respond to or what they would be willing to interact with for short periods of time. It was also discussed that finding a way to make the games into one game instead of four separate would probably be the way to go in the future. This is mainly because, as of right now, there are four very different games that were created about a process that involves all of the themes the different games focus on to function. Also the games are very different in format and mechanics. Some were multiplayer, some lent themselves to a digital game, others would lose their impact if they were turned into anything other than a physical game. We still aren’t entirely sure how we would create a single game, but I am sure this is something that needs to be brainstormed and discussed as a group.
Though this is my last post about Games with a Purpose, many of us are going to continue working on this project and hopefully there will be more posts about this project in the future!
By Heidi Nordmann