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Afterland Revisited. A theory-based game development research circle

In the summer of 2010, the game Afterland was developed as a tool to study recursive learning processes in videogame players at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. Based on the theory of “recursive learning” (Mitgutsch 2009)—learning through failure and by

Konstantin Mitgutsch

on 16 June 2013

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Transcript of Afterland Revisited. A theory-based game development research circle

Lessons Learned Through Designing
and Researching "Afterland"
Konstantin Mitgutsch
Matthew Weise
Afterland Revisited.
1. The theoretical Roots
2. Subversive Game Design
3. "Afterland" Well-Played
1.1 Recursive Learning
1.2 Cognitive Dissonance
1.3 Challenging Expectations
Based on the educational-philosophical learning theory related to the work of Aristotle, Bacon, Dewey, Gadamer, Husserl, Buck, Meyer-Drawe, Mezirow... (Mitgutsch 2009, 2011)
Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Feistinger 1956)
"The notion is that a person who is experiencing dissonance will be motivated to expose himself to consonant information and to avoid exposure to dissonant information". (Wicklund & Brehm 1969, 9)
If people have invested energy into the wrong thing, sometimes this fact causes dissonance they cannot face.
...challenge players' expectations
September 12, Frasca; http://www.gamasutra.com/db_area/images/feature/1937/sept_12.gif
Subversive Game Design,
but no recursive learning
Subversive Game Design Catalogue
players have to overcome the common pattern,
to realize what the game is about.
The recursive learning process is play immanent
Fathom, 2009, Adam "Atomic" Saltsman
Ulitsa Dimitrova, 2010,
Lea Schönfelder and Gerard Delmàs
Success is literally impossible. The system is modeled after reality and reality unfair
Cognitive Dissonance
3. 2 Subversion
A. Challenging the act of hording
B. Challenging the enemy
C. Failing
4. Well-Learned
4.2 Players are restructuring their expectation and learn recursivly
4.2 Players stick to their routines and biases
= No Transfer and Transformation
5. Lessonslearned
Games can offer unique learning opertunities
Learning is not a result, it is a process. (Aristotle)
Can games be recursive learning tools?
In games expectations are constantly challenged
Failing can be engaging and motivating
The consequences are limited to the play space
No game is an island (context is king)
Games are learning tools – but not teaching instruments!
Expectations shape experience
The players‘ prior experiences, the context, their connection to the topic or problem, and scope of action all impact the learning experience.
The transfer is NOT the transformation!
GameS offer unique learning OpOrtunities, but that doesn't guarantee anything...
Thank you!
Theory of recursive learning (Mitgutsch 2009)
...subvert common design patterns
...develop uncommon game mechanics
...get players out of their routines
...force them learn recursivly and restructure their expectation
...Design an experiment that forces the players to think differently
@Mitgutschk - Online: http://bit.ly/Afterland
“... it is the peculiar and perpetual error of the human understanding to be more moved and excited by affirmatives than negatives. (...) The negative instance is the most powerful.” (Bacon 1984 [1620], 110)
“The word ‘learning’ undoubtedly denotes change of some kind. To say what kind of change is a delicate matter.” (Bateson 1972, p. 283)
“The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” -Alvin Toffler, 1980
To sum up, recursive learning can be defined as a circular process of restructuring prior experience patterns through challenging the learners’ expectations.
Design a "learning" game to...
But first ...examine games that already subvert players' expectations and break rules.
3. 1 The PolititiAn
Qualiative Study with 80 players between 12-55
4.1 The Expectations and Interpretations shape the experience in the game
Tim, 15 "I felt something was wrong, but I needed to win"
Sara, 12 "Just because my friends don't like chemestry, I will not give it up!"
Pete, 17 "This game is clearly a game about nostalgia!"
Tom, 16 "I never thought about what I am doing in a game - this is different, this is wired..."
"Well-Played is NOT (really) Well-Learned {in Afterland}"
What I actually want to say:
A theory-based game development research circle
So What's next?
Team: GAPAPA GAMES (Singapore/MIT)
Things you should know!
Full transcript