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Games and Learning
            Jose Zagal
    Electronic Learning Communities Lab
    College of Computing & GVU Center
       Georgia Institute of Technology
Learning from games
   Using games as the subject of learning.

   What does it mean to study and learn about
       What are the challenges?

   Can this teach us anything about learning?

   How can you make the most of what you already
    know about games?

   A new form of literacy?
   My research explores these questions by
    designing collaborative online environments
    for people who are learning about games and
    studying games.

       ….and trying to understand HOW learning happens in
        these environments

       …and what can we do to IMPROVE them
GameLog and GameOntologyWiki
   GameLog
       Online blogging environment for gamers

   GameOntology Wiki
       Developing concepts and vocabulary for
        understanding games
       Creating new knowledge!

 Game                 (Blogging tool )
                                                                          Game studies
courses                                                                     scholars

     Reflect on gameplay                 Will help them   Currently use
     experiences by using                contribute to
           • Online blogging tool for games
             • www.gamelog.cl

           • Multiple, parallel blogs (one per game)

           • Can help you:
             • Connect game elements across multiple games
             • Gain insight on how the experience of playing
               a game changes over time
Blog entry
   Ongoing games studies research project
       Started in 2002
            Led by Michael Mateas (UCSC) & Jose Zagal (GaTech)\

   Hierarchical classification of structural elements of
    games and the relationships between them
            Focus on elements that affect or define gameplay
            Currently over 150 entries
   Always Evolving
            Entries are constantly created and refined
            Grounded in videogames (not generated abstractly)
   Exists on a wiki
            www.gameontology.org
Game Ontology – Sample Entry
Name: To Own
Parent: Entity Manipulation
Children: To Capture To Possess, To Exchange
Entities can own other game entities. Ownership does not carry any inherent
    meaning, other than the fact that one entity is tied to another. Changes in
    ownership can not be initiated by the owned entity. Ownership can change the
    attributes or abilities of either the owned or owning entity. Ownership can be
    used to measure performance, either positive or negative. Ownership is never
    permanent; the possibility of losing ownership separates ownership from an
    inherent attribute or ability of an entity. Ownership of an entity can change in
    variety of ways, including voluntary and involuntary changes of ownership.
It is important to note the difference between owning an entity, and using an
    entity. For example, in Super Mario Bros, when Mario collides with a mushroom,
    the mushroom is immediately used and removed from the game world. Mario
    never owns the mushroom.
Strong Example: In Super Mario World Mario can collect mushrooms (or fire flowers
    or feathers) to use later. Mario owns these entities and can make use of them

Weak Example: In Ico, the player character must protect a girl called Yorda. While
   the player only directly controls Ico, his actions are very closely tied to leading,
   guiding and protecting Yorda. One could argue that Ico, in effect, owns Yorda
   because of the way they are tied to each other.
Game Ontology Wiki
                      •The current ontology has been
                      migrated to a Wiki

          Pages are end user modifiable.
Game Ontology Wiki
                                        •The current ontology has been
                                        migrated to a Wiki

There is a record of the evolution of
   the knowledge being created.
Game Ontology Wiki
                      •The current ontology has been
                      migrated to a Wiki
         Every page has an associated
               discussion page.

          Discussion is separate from
             object of discussion.
Game Ontology Wiki
                     •The current ontology has been
                     migrated to a Wiki

              Keep track of changes
          to pages you are interested in.
 Games Studies Scholars
Currently use the Game Ontology to explore
game studies research questions.

For example:
Neubauer, S. (2006) - The Gameplay Video Segmentation Method, MFA Thesis,
School of Media, University of Applied Sciences, Stuttgart

Söderqvist, T. & Larsson, C. (2006) - Items in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing
Games, MSc Thesis, IT University of Goteburg

Zagal, J., Mateas, M., Fernandez-Vara, C., Hochhalter, B. and Lichti, N. (2005)
"Towards an Ontological Language for Game Analysis", Selected Papers of the Digital
Interactive Games Research Association Conference (DiGRA 2005), Vancouver B.C.,
June, 2005.
                                                                                           Game Studies
Fernandez-Vara, C., Zagal, J., Mateas, M. (2005). "Evolution of Spatial Configurations
In Videogames", Selected Papers of the Digital Interactive Games Research
Association Conference (DiGRA 2005), Vancouver B.C., June, 2005. (nominated for
Best Paper Award)

Zagal, J.P., Fernandez-Vara, C., Mateas, M. (In press) "Gameplay Segmentation in
Vintage Arcade Games", Ludologica Retro, Volume 1: Vintage Arcade (1971-1984),
Bogost, I. and Bittanti, M. (Eds)
ThinkGame - Summary

                   (Blogging tool )

 Students taking
                                      Game Studies
 Game Courses                           Scholars
What’s in it for you?
   Gain a deeper understanding of the medium of

   Get better at expressing and communicating
    ideas about games and gameplay

   Help you better analyze and understand

   Use what you already know to contribute to the
    field of game studies
Contact Information
   Jose Zagal
       jp@cc.gatech.edu
       www.cc.gatech.edu/~jp

   Electronic Learning Communities (ELC) Lab
       www.cc.gatech.edu/elc

   Experimental Games Lab (EGL)
       egl.gatech.edu
My Research Study
   Voluntary!

   Anonymous
       No one but you and me know you’re in the study

   No extra work involved
       I just want permission to study the assignments you’ll
        do for class anyways
       I may want to talk to you during the semester.

   Won’t affect your grade in any way

   You can drop out of the study whenever you
    want. No questions asked.
Thank you for
participating !

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