MFA Dissertation (A+)

I would like to start this article with a tribute to Raph Koster the genius, who managed to bridge the gap between happiness and successful game design based on empirical research. My MFA thesis awarded with A+ accompanies “Shakespeare’s Hunt” the iPad game for The Globe Theatre and its focus was mainly research on games and game design. I have to admit I found the subject fascinating.

Below is the chapter that refers to game design cover the following subjects:

  1. Defining games
  2. Endorphins, pattern recognition and learning
  3. Game mechanics (motivators and demotivators).

The taste left in my mouth from all that experience of learning about games and how deep they go into how we, humans, function is summarised in the epilogue of my thesis below:

Game design studies refer to research on positive psychology and in practical terms on ways to trigger human happiness. As a subject of research, it may not be included in my future work (i.e. augmented reality for cultural heritage), however the knowledge I gained from working on this theme is invaluable. Firstly, I personally found stunning the fact that it is simple, at the level that it can be documented, to make one, anyone, feel happy. It was also of my surprise to realise that regardless of personal taste and things people like or dislike, up to a point we are all the same; we think, act and react in the same way much more often than one would reckon. Researching game design was of great benefit for myself, as I came to understand better the behaviour of people around me and more importantly my own behaviour as well. The knowledge gained from this year’s research, will follow me for all my life and it already does, as now every time I reactively smile I immediately try to see the pattern that made me do that; like I am playing a game of my own.

Presentation @ Digital Futures

I had the chance to be invited at the Digital Futures Conference hosted by Ravensbourne College to talk on Serious Games and learning. The conference featured a number of great professionals like Euan Semple and Dr. Paul Coulton from the University of Lancaster. The headline was Howard Rheingold who talked about a couple of hours via tele-conference.

I discovered games and learning in my research about a year ago when I came across SAAM’s Ghosts of a Chance project and was fascinated by the idea of using the power of games to achieve something as tough and important at the same time as learning. During my MFA studies I’ve been exploring in depth Serious and in particular Educational Games and their impact on learning, focusing always on case studies coming from the cultural heritage sector.

My ‘aha!’ moment came when I read about the so-called ‘Game Mechanics’ on which I focused my presentation at Digital Futures. Game mechanics are a set of rules intended to produce an enjoyable game experience, but has also been applied in other areas such as business.

One of the main themes of the conference was collaboration, so another point I would like to highlight from the presentation is the slide at which I talked about my personal experience of game enhanced-learning. Quoting the text that accompanied the slide that showed the Microsoft Silverlight forum:

As a developer myself I find the online forums very important and whenever I face a serious issue myself I post a question online and in one or two hours people from allover the world respond to solve my (!) problem. And I did wonder many times; why do all these people bother? why do they spend their time to share their knowledge? Well for a little while, I used to be one of those. When I used to develop with Microsoft Silverlight at some point I felt I had to give back to the community that helped me, by helping others. But being honest waht really got me going, where the game mechanics of the website and for two months I tried very hard to get 700 points and get promoted from a “Member” to a “Participant”. As you can see, I never managed to do so, but by the time I got bored I had already helped in the solution of  a few hundreds of questions.

I also got a nice tweet about it!

I got a few complimenting tweets for my presentation but once Rheingold was on, I was rather forgotten! The networking was good as well, and for me in any case it was a great experience as I always wanted to present at a conference. Bling! +5 Achievement Points!

My MFA thesis is on Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and combines all of my interests: Augmented Reality, museums and game mechanics. More to come from that one!

MA Dissertation (A+)

My thesis for the MA Interactive Digital Media apart from the deployment of the Augmented Reality Suite presented in the previous post, includes also an in depth research of the augmented reality and the way it has been applied to the cultural heritage sector.

arsci-header

The abstract:

This is a report for the project The Augmented Reality Suite for Cultural Institutions [ARS:CI] and its accompanying research. ARS:CI is a software suite comprising of three Apple iPhone applications that take advantage of Augmented Reality to enhance the learning experience in the museum context. The potential of Augmented Reality for cultural heritage institutions has been the subject of research for over a decade, however ARS:CI is one of the first projects, which aim at the development of an Augmented Reality solution for museums and galleries that does not include custom-made or expensive hardware, such as Ultra-PCs, but instead takes advantage of the smartphones on the market. The research methods followed were mainly desktop research as well as interviews with professionals coming from the cultural heritage sector. During the software development process user-testing was involved to retrieve feedback from the users, combined with desktop research on techniques that would optimise the performance of the applications. The study proved that despite the large amount of research in the area of augmented reality for museums, there is only a minority of sustainable solutions, which was eventually appropriated for permanent exhibitions, mainly because of the cost of purchasing and maintaining the designed Augmented Reality systems. The feedback ARS:CI received was positive and professionals with a background in the Cultural Heritage sector as well as Augmented Reality specialists, found in it great potential, as a tool that is able to transform the learning process in a compelling experience.

The introduction of the document can be found below. If you are interested in the full document please e-mail me. In addition, since the subject deals with the new media, content such as videos is essential. For that reason, wherever the icon on the right appears in the text, it indicates that there is a relevant video available in the Video Reel below.

Video Reel

The videos accompanying the dissertation can be found below. They appear in the order in which they are mentioned in the text i.e. “The ARS:CI”, “The Virtual Dig”, “An Augmented Reality Museum Guide” and “Mixed Reality for the Natural History Museum in Japan”.


The ARS:CI

The Virtual Dig


The Room


A Magical Start


Brushing


Examining Tusks


Removing Tusks


Examining Masks


Finding Statue


Combining Statue


Fitting Objects

An Augmented Reality Museum Guide

Mixed Reality for the Natural History Museum in Japan

Kondo


When I joined that masters course all I knew was that I like the new media in general and a year later, I find myself in full awareness of the subject of my interest. A zillion thanks to all the people related or unrelated to Ravensbourne who helped me throughout the last academic year.