Serious Games Summit: Herdlick on Making Educational Games That Are Elegant, Fun and Really Educational

For the eighth session of the summit I attended Catherine Herdlick’s Making Educational Games That Are Elegant, Fun and Really Educational, which turned out to be – happily for me – an overview of game development for academics and others who might come to work with game developers.

Because this session was laid out in such a logical sequence I have only doctored up my initial notes and simply offer them here:

Herdlick talked about the development process in terms of these stages:
– concept
– design/prototype
– alpha
– beta
– gold / GMC
– launch

She framed her presentation with the question “How does this process shift when we have educational design values?” and the answer was integrated throughout her presentation.

She went into testing and code locks early on, but then settled into this outline of the partnership between a designer and educator…

Before you approach a developer… a checklist.
– Play lots of games.
– Embrace conflict. Or at least consider embracing it.
– Create educational design values:
Identify your concept (probably content related)
Specify what player is learning
Prioritize your educational goals
Identify the audience
Describe feelings you want the game to evoke
– Prepare documentation about the topic.
– Identify a project leader on your end.
– Clarify scope. (Really small games can impact people, too.)

– Provide documentation / overview of content
– Discuss design and educational values
– Select one concept from several – best fit

Design / Prototype
– In-depth research on topic, if necessary
– Re-evaluate and discuss scope

– Prepare placeholder content
– Research distribution options and challenges
– Discuss assessment
– Re-evaluate & discuss scope

– Finish and polish written content
– Test with target audience
– “Shop” your game around
– Developer – integrate assessment tools, if applicable

Gold / GMC
– Evaluate usefulness of assessment tools

Launch – and change lives :)

She then discussed a few specific examples which I did not capture, and then answered some questions.

This was a good overview for me to take back to the OCDE, and for me in preparation for my own future work.