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 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 , 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!




Week 1 Workshop Report: Introductions

by Kate Raynes-Goldie

What’s all this?

A few months ago, we announced that we had received a grant from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to develop a cross-media privacy literacy game, for children, with children as co-creators. Since then, we’ve been working on the foundation of the project: the curriculum for a series of privacy and game design workshops. These workshops provide the “ scaffolding ” (this is one of our favourite words – it is a concept critical to our approach which I will write more about later) for the game design by providing the children with the tools to think critically and be reflective about games. The workshops also give the chance for the children to share and discuss what they already know about privacy, what they are confused about and what they want to learn and teach their peers. The outcome of these discussions will shape the content of the game we create together.

We also feel our approach is pretty unique and important. Contrary to popular discourse, we (based on the projects we’ve collaborated on at ) believe children and young people not only care about online privacy, but know much more than they are usually given credit for. One of our research goals is to explore what children already know, and then enable them to become aware and reflective about that knowledge so that they can build and extend on that foundation – a process we also hope to build into the game we create.

First workshop

Another project goal is to share what we learn together, since we don’t think anyone else has done something similar (yet!). With that in mind, this is the first in a series of blog posts that will document our process over the course of the project, which we will complete by the end of January, 2012.

We ran our first workshop last Sunday with the group of children that we recruited over the past few months. Recognising the dearth of women in game design, one of our goals was to have an equal number of boys and girls as co-designers. During the original recruiting process, we had near gender parity, but unfortunately two of the girls dropped out before the first workshop. The final team was made of 7 Toronto-area children, ranging from 8 to 10 years old, with 2 girls and 5 boys (for privacy and confidentiality their names will not be used). The adults are myself , David Fono and our workshop facilitators and curriculum consultants, Noah Kenneally and Jaime Woo . The workshops run 4 hours and are a mix of discussions, interactive exercises and games. Later workshops will include prototyping and game testing.

The agenda of the first workshop went roughly like this:

  • Ice breakers
  • Introduction to the project
  • (physical game)
  • Break and snacks
  • Privacy creative activity
  • Big Booty (clapping game)
  • Break and snacks
  • Privacy spectrogram
  • Closing circle

For the activities around privacy, we used various interactive exercises, such as having everyone draw activities they liked to do by themselves and then doing a show and tell; or drawing a house together, dividing up the rooms and then discussing who is allowed in each room and why.

What we learned

The goal of the first week was to cover most of the privacy questions and then move on to more of a game design focus in later weeks. We got through about half as much as we had planned, so we had to move a number of activities to the next workshop. The first key learning then is rather obvious: things take much longer than we thought! We suspect that breaking up the privacy curriculum will actually be beneficial as we felt that the first week might have been too early to discuss privacy questions (such as secrets and sharing) as we will all still getting to know each other. I’ll report back more about our privacy discussions in the next post, but until then I can confidently say that children 8-10 are definitely thinking about privacy (even if they don’t use the word).