Week 2 Workshop Report: Games as experiences (part 1)

by Kate Raynes-Goldie

During the second week we started talking about games as well as privacy. In our opening circle, we all shared what our favourite online games were (one of the children asked if we meant group games or Flash games, or both – great question! We included any game you played on the internet). Moshi Monsters was by far the most popular:

Our favourite games
Moshi Monsters (x4)
Monkey Quest (x4)
Club Penguin (x5)
Webkinz (x5)
Neopets (x2)
Shift 2
Wolf Quest
Animal Jam
Test Subject Green
Bitstrips (x4)
Balloon Tower Defense 3

We also found out that other than the adults who were on Twitter and Facebook, one of the children has an account on Facebook, another on Twitter and one uses his mum’s account to play Farmville.

After some privacy exercises (discussed in the next post), we began to bring in some more formal game design exercises. David and I are both self-taught game designers, so we’re finding Jesse Schell’s The Art of Game Design really helpful for formalising what we know and passing it on to the group. The book’s chapters each examine a different lens for understanding and designing games, such as theme, iteration, worlds and characters. From our discussions so far, we know our young co-designers already know a lot about games because they play a lot of games. But like us when we started the workshop design process, they still need to formalise that knowledge so that they can reflect on it. Before getting into the nitty gritty of game mechanics (rules, balance, actions, space etc.) we thought the most accessible entry point would be the lens of experience. 

To investigate this lens, we asked everyone to think about how various things made them feel as we played a few different games (Zip Zap Zop and Gargoyles, which you can see a photo of us playing below) At the end of the game, we sat down in a circle and everyone wrote down an emotion we had on one sticky note, and then on another sticky what we were doing in the game when we felt it (photos of the discussion white board below). One of the children had a great idea to make the exercise even more reflective by having everyone guess which emotion went with each moment.

Next week we’re going to delve more into experience by adding the question of “why?” We’re also going to test some prototypes David and I worked on this week based on the children’s feedback and ideas thus far. We’re excited to be working with such a great group!