Make Games Not War - Jesse Schell

Do games change people? For better or for worse? Can games make people want war (more peaceful or more warlike) etc?

So many games have violence. Even Hello Kitty’s Roller Adventure has fighting! Daughter plays when 5, throws down controller, “Hello Kitty doesn’t fight!” - starts crying.  “What the hell is wrong with us?”

Why are video games so violent?

video games enable a world where you can do whatever you want, no one gets hurt, and verbal communication is awkward or impossible (guy heaven!)

Is simulated violence bad?

- some day yes because it will lead to real violence

- catharsis - get it out of your system in a fictional world

- violent crime has gone down as video game popularity rose - could it be a cause and effect situation?

Theory of fun

- games are about stripping away the garbage and getting to the abstract heart of the problem

- gamers are learning strategies, not the violence and gore etc

- …or is that desensitization of violence?

The Columbine concern

- Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie & Video Game Violence

- early 20th century soldiers (WWII etc) often couldn’t shoot when they needed to - not desensitized - less will to fire at human beings

- we have put the pop-up human figures used in today’s training in the hands of all children

Exploring in a safe and controlled context

- not quite catharsis, but if you can play with your angry feelings and being in a situation of violence, you will have better control when those situations show up in real life

- take away toy guns from boys, they’ll use sticks to shoot at each other - gives a way to play with these situations


- why don’t we have orcs in the real world - you keep killing them and the world becomes a better place

- big jump between other animals and humans

- they were Neanderthals - what happened to them? - “I think we killed them all.  Because that’s how we roll.”

- Maybe it’s in our nature to destroy things that are competing with us that are alien

Online Communication

- “On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog”

- Is it possible that not being able to see who you are connecting with without seeing what they look like will  break down barriers?

Games changing points of view

- Hayley’s story (hunting) - made her appreciate hunting, accept violence and mended strife with her sister

- PeaceMaker - Isreal and Palestine - students were trivializing the solution - “if those guys would just stop being jerks, everything would be fine” - you play the other side, showing you to the solution isn’t as obvious or easy as you thought

- other media can’t show us the complexity or let us experience how the systems work the way games do

What drives real world violence?

- violence is communication - I’m going to make you understand how I feel right now

- if this is true, if we can have games help people communicate better, this could have huge repercussions

- Facebook seems trivial, but it’s changing the world because it allows people to communicate (“Facebook revolution”)

- when you really care what your games do to people, people can feel it and appreciate it - someone else cares what I accomplish

War scorecard:

- violence comes easy

- desensitization to violence

- video games train to kill

- humans inherently racist?

Peace scorecard:

- catharsis

- control of situations

- no more race/language barriers?

- see other peoples’ point of view

- 21st century is going to be a war for human attention

- These four groups will fight the war: persuaders, fulfillers (most game designers, entertainment, etc fall here - want to fulfill the wishes and fantasies people have), artists (make a statement, advance the medium, bring to life something that wasn’t there), humanitarians (how we can make things that will make us into better people mentally, spiritually)

- Who will win?

“If we were better game designers, couldn’t it be the olympics all the time?”

Wednesday Talks

Examining Reflective Awareness in Gaming Experience

Awareness games - Indiana University - passion for introspection

Game design and games - a tool for reflection?

Games support awareness of concepts, reflections on assumptions (similar to blogs), testing of hypotheses

Make games explicitly combine these things - how can we design games to support a reflective experience in such a way that it really benefits players? How to get feedback from players to improve this? All while staying fun??


Virtual pets have potential but current titles don’t have the mechanics needed

-> Dream Kindlers

Embedded Writing in Educational Games

Covert and Overt Measures of Engagement within an Educational Multimedia Environment        

Games can change the way we learn <-> empirical research can change the way we game

Several emotions that are shared between learning and gaming, especially flow/engagement and frustration

Education: Engagement = learning

Games: Engagement = fun

Overt: observable (facial expressions, verbalization, behavior, etc)

Covert: hidden (cognition, motivation, flow, engagement, attitude, emotion)

Physiological data can help get objective, quantitative data?

engagement, arousal, mental effort, attention, excitement, etc

Why measure engagement?

dynamic difficulty adjustment

expand demographics, adjust flow for them

time on task

Assessing Engagement and Affect in Educational Games

Two cheap methods different from previous talks

Quantitative field observations / expert judgments

Peripheral vision, side glances - non-obtrusive when students are used to it

Can tell if they are collaborative, gaming the system, positive affect, flow, boredom, frustration, etc

Affect different in the field than in the lab

Automated detectors

Try to detect in real time without sensors (cheaper, but not as accurate)

How does affect differ between a game and an intelligent tutoring system?

Mathblaster vs. Aplusix -> part of each that covers the exact same content

Engaged concentration: 76% vs 63%

Delight: 6% vs 12%

Game Changing: Extending learning both within the classroom and without the classroom

Apparently $20 billion spent on k-12 educational technology - was it worth it?

CFY - incorporate digital assets into the classroom, home, and beyond - focus on low income

Student centered lens on education:

Traditionally teacher centered, parents on periphery

Student-centered lens puts the child front and center, support from teacher AND parent

This pushes boundaries of education to go beyond the classroom

Fancy does not matter - the software creates conversations between people face to face - how do we make our software part of the conversation?

Teaching Scientific Inquiry with a Serious Game

The problem: deficit in understanding of science skills in US

People need to know how to critically evaluate descriptions of research, advertising

Operation Aries:

Intelligent tutoring system

Cover research methodology from psychology to biology

Story is aliens invaded the earth, bureau of science calls you in to find out why

Interactive text module, case studies module, interrogation module

Available through Pearson Education starting in 2012

G4LI Advancing Research on Games for Learning

Mission: what patterns of design can be applied to games in the classroom...

Not commercial games, but prototypes used to ask various questions

Vary social, emotional, ergonomic factors

Evolving form factors is important! Use Kinect, iPhone, etc

(This talk went too fast - couldn’t keep up - showed lots of neat examples of the types of games created and studied)

G4LI Luncheon Keynote Speaker: Gabe Newell

Playing Portal 2 - physics

Building rooms for Portal 2

Zombies game - characters react according to what the players do - use for autism therapy

Games as a pro-social training ground

Economic opportunity - line between author and audience blurs, create opportunities to contribute


I hate the excuse that people making educational software use to not work as hard as people who think they’re making commercial games...

What is Stealth Assessment?

21st century competency - important - educational has not changed much in 100 years

today’s kids need whole new skill set - e.g. creativity, collaboration, communication

no consensus on the taxonomies of 21st century competencies

Need to rethink assessment for these skills

Games: unnecessary obstacles we choose to overcome/tackle

Good game elements

- interactive problem solving

- specific goals to obtain and rules to follow

- adaptive challenges (balance between difficulty and ability, flow)

- offer players control

- provide ongoing feedback

- elements of uncertainty

- provide sensory stimuli

When these elements come together in a game it gives some sort of magical experience

Evidence-centered design:

- What do you want to say about the person? (competency  model)

- What observations would provide best evidence for what you want to say (evidence model)

- What kinds of tasks let you make the necessary observations (task-action model)

Stealth Assessment

- seamless and ubiquitous

- extract ongoing information from a learner

- make accurate inferences of competencies

- react in immediate and helpful ways

Tuesday Talks

Public Media and Games

“Videogames look like they’re about the things that they picture, by they are not.  They are intricate rituals carved out of physics and thought and math and emotion.”

- Frank Lantz

Why does it matter? Why should public media support games?

"Role of public media is giving control of content over to the audience." via Silvia Lovato, PBS

krash63 Kristi Miller Durazo

You cant just throw content at kids ( or grownups). Give them a as a scaffold. Like the analogy.

superid101 James M. Bower

I heard that PBS kids online gets heat from PBS because of their growing use numbers - "taking audience from TV"

Distribution and competition for attention

Games as art

PRSoapbox Colleen Campbell

LOVE THIS: "Do it first. Cause trouble. Inspire change." Great end to the Games in Public Media panel. #g4c2011

Real-world Games for Change Challenge

Design a game that would leave the place the game was played a better place somehow (leave a positive impact).

Lots of ideas came in, including the expects “pick up garbage” concept.  Talking to strangers.

Design challenge winners “Commons” didn’t change the actual space but had a layer on top in some way.

Commons game design:

Game Day

Games and Cultural Spaces

Live blog notes: 

Find the Future: The Game

devonvsmith Devon Smith

Find the Future: The Game. Write all night at the new york public library: #G4C2011

devonvsmith Devon Smith

"our purpose was to engage the teen to 20-something that might not use the NYC research library" #G4C2011

Museum (AMNH)

Museum of Moving Image


nerdcorejourn Thomas Chan

@Babycastles to teach a 10-wk course at MoMA and opening an arcade there. #G4C2011 #G4C

G4C Games for Change

@Babycastles co-founder Syed Salahuddin - "Most of our games are antagonistic but not very aggressive." Games are on "the fringe" #g4c2011

greenghoulie Pete Vigeant

For cultural institutions, one of the great things about games is an instant feedback loop. You can easily judge engagement. #g4c2011

James Shelton, U.S. Department of Education

Open Remarks

Interpretation of innovation and improvement in terms of education?

G4C Games for Change

James Shelton: In education, “The myth that you cannot make systemic change quickly is just that. A myth” #G4C #G4C2011

Politics requires safety and innovation requires risk - how to deal with this?

Pressure to teach to the test

devonvsmith Devon Smith

"most young children are passionate about science & math. somewhere along the way we kill that passion" -Shelton #G4C2011

SandersAK adrian sanders

People learn to code because they want to build things. The computer science is an ends to a means. DOE approach is backwards. #G4C2011

MathEvolve Adam Coccari

With the proliferation of educational games, our challenge is to sort the quality programs from the junk.-James Shelton #g4c #g4c2011

kishizuka kishizuka

Data? “The reality is that's not how most [fed] decisions are made. It’s stories [examples of games' impact on learning].” -Shelton #g4c2011

LaylaTab Layla Tabatabaie

Shelton: in 100 ways we make government worse, 1 of them is creating systems that mitigate all risk #g4c2011

G4C Games for Change

"The risk of being risk averse is only surpassed by being overly formulaic" --Shelton #G4C2011