A few years ago, I encountered a game called Spent. I was just starting to explore and discover the work being done in serious games and educational games. I was excited: a game about poverty! Awesome! At first, I loved the game and often used it as an example of a good educational game when discussing the topic with people. Now, after some time has passed and I have learned more about games and about the causes and experience of poverty, I realize I need to re-examine this game. So, does Spent succeed as an educational game? If not, why?
Spent is a Web-based game about the experience of poverty developed by McKinnon, a Durham based ad agency. Its primary high-level instructional goal is to instill a sense of empathy towards the impoverished in the player. …
How do you decide where the fun ends and the learning begins?
One of the projects I have currently been working on is an educational game about imposter syndrome. Over the past few weeks, I have been researching and designing with a team of four others to create this game. The initial idea came about when we realized that all of us had some experience with this particular problem. The project is nearing its completion: we have landed on a card game, are working to balance it, and are finding ourselves facing some interesting questions. During this period of design, we find ourselves trying to strike a balance between a game that is both fun to play and clear in its lesson. How do you make a serious game still fun? …
Game Name: Pokémon: Black & Blue
High-level Instructional Goal: The meat industry is evil and Peta is great
In this critique I assume the game's purpose to be one of persuasion and the intended audience to be people who eat meat and enjoy McDonalds.
*** Will contain spoilers for some games ***
Horror and mental health have long been tied together in popular media. One of the titular horror cinema icons, Michael Myers, is a giant asylum escapee. According to a survey, Halloween is one of the top ten most popular US Holidays. In video games, the horror genre is also extremely successful and, sometimes, pretty profitable. Many top streamer personalities gained popularity by playing a mix of horror and indie games. So how does mental health factor into this genre? A lot of the horror genre build upon themes of mental health. …
Game Name: Bury Me, My Love
Developer: The Pixel Hunt, ARTE France, FIGS
Platform: IOS, Android, Switch, Steam
High-level Instructional Goal: Empathy towards the people affected by the Syrian Refugee Crisis
I have always been a bit overly-empathetic. While I have gotten very good at managing my empathetic tendencies, I still sometimes let ‘outside’ problems and occurrences affect how I'm feeling overall and my mental status. For this reason, I waited a year before playing Bury Me, My Love. For the same reason, I really wish I hadn’t.
I played the game on my iPhone and (other than one time) kept the game set to occur in real-time. When you open the game you are introduced to Nour and Majd, a married couple who the game revolves around. You Play as Majd, who is staying home in Homs to care for relatives while Nour journeys away from Syria to escape the war and death ravaging their home. The game occurs in a WhatsApp-style application where you message back and forth with Nour, giving her advice and trying to support her from afar. The prologue is available to play for free online. …
While working on a VR (virtual reality) project for a class, one of my many roles was UI designer. Knowing nothing about how to design a UI for VR, I began researching. Soon after, I stumbled upon a short blog post about diegetic UI design. While looking at this subject, I also began looking into other UI implementation patterns. I particularly have been looking into Diegetic UI, Non-Diegetic UI, Spacial UI, Meta UI. With all these options, though, it becomes quite hard to choose a UI that works for your game. …
Every once in a while, you come across a game or piece of media that simply and totally consumes you. In some of those cases, the media consumes you and a friend. Out of those occurrences, there is a chance of finding a gem that will dominate your entire group of friends and drive you all joyfully insane.
While working on a VR project for a class, one of my many roles was UI designer. Knowing nothing about how to design a UI for VR, I began researching. Soon after, I stumbled upon a short blog post about diegetic UI design.
[Diegesis] refers to the information related by the narrator and many times is comprised of characters thoughts and actions. This excludes dialogue, which is categorized under mimesis. In addition, diegesis can be characterized as the narrator’s commentary on the thoughts and actions of characters.” (source)
Diegesis was a concept explored by Plato and Aristotle and used in Greek theatre. Over time, it has now become a tool used in the analysis of media and a common term when discussing how immersive some form of media is. After my first experience learning about it, I began noticing it in more games. …
What is the effect of the decision to include this and was it worth it?
*** Warning: Graphic images of death ahead & Hellblade spoilers***
No one really likes endings. Finishing a book is often associated with a hollow feeling that’s often joked about in webcomic strips (a bunch of them are included in this bookbub.com list) and playing a game often elicits the same feeling. When kids are told playtime is over, they may throw a tantrum over College students mourn the loss of sleep, and adults (sometimes) the loss of freedom. …
In my examination of the game Hellblade, I will include information and mechanics that can be considered as SPOILERS. If you have not played the game yet and intend to, read ahead with caution.
Game Name: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Developer: Ninja Theory
Platform: Xbox One, PlayStation4, PC
High-level Instructional Goal: Tell a classic hero's journey type story and represent a person experiencing psychosis accurately.
“This is my battle, I must face it alone.”
When I was younger, I would read a lot. The books I loved the most were ones where I would be able to immerse myself into the story. When I finished the books, I was always left stunned and feeling slightly empty. It’s a feeling of loss. Playing Hellblade has a similar effect. After I completed the game and the screen went black, I found myself looking at my reflection on the television, satisfied with the story but craving more. …