by Marius Brade

The biggest surprise researching this topic, was that during the process of designing a game and bringing it to life, students did not realize that they became very good designers for any software. This needs to be actively reflected by teachers.

Using Games as medium for teaching software development has several advantages. Students have a high motivation to create games, despite the fact that this is a challenging task. Players have high expectations; they want to experience a flow state while playing a game. Creating a flow state for players means a lot of testing for creators of a game. A user centered design process seems like the most effective way to find out about respective design decisions leading to a good game. The same aspects lead to successful software applications in general. This means that students learn all the needed methods and skills to create not only games but also software in general – and in a particularly motivating way.

The following methods were used: Students had to come up with a game idea, which then should be pitched to their peers. This way groups of students could find common ground for building teams. Then the teams had to work on the game design process for two weeks before a school class came to give feedback and test the first bits of the games. This process was iterated throughout the semester. The biggest challenge in the project was students thinking their idea is not ready to be tested / reviewed yet, and that they needed to further work on it before showing it to others.

GBL can…
support learning of user centred design processes through high motivation of users in testing games and creators in designing games.

GBL cannot…
circumvent cognitive effort of the learning process.