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Ten ‘Mistakes’ Commonly Made by Persons Designing Educational Simulations and Games

By R. Garry Shirts

If someone were to ask me to identify the mistakes most often made by game designers, including myself, I would, after assuring myself that the questioner understands that game design is a very personal activity and that there are no right answers, reply in the following dogmatic manner: […]

1. Taking a Linear Approach to Game Design.

Most articles and books on simulation design suggest that one should follow a logical sequence of development: first define your objectives, then identify the actors and so on. Such prescriptions are accurate post-facto descriptions of what emerges from the game design process but are not, for the most part, accurate descriptions of that process. I suppose that one can design simulations in this manner, but such an approach defines the important parameters of the game before one starts and precludes an imaginative solution.

The designing process, in my experience, is not sequential at all—new idea “F” requires an adjustment or rethinking of ideas “A” “B” “C” and “D”. And such adjustments in turn may suggest changes in idea “F”. One moves back and forth among the ideas and parts of the game much as the performer who keeps a dozen or so plates of china spinning simultaneously on tall slender polls.

2. Trying to Work with Non-Simpatico Personalities.

It isn’t always possible to choose one’s game designing mates, but if given a choice, they should be selected carefully. Especially for the beginning stages when ideas are being generated. One negative person can stifle the creativity of thousands. Many different skills are required to develop educational simulations. The person who may be very creative at thinking up alternatives may not be able to write, follow the game […]

By | October 15th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |0 Comments

Philosophy of Science, What Is a Game?

By BERNARD SUITS, University of Waterloo

By means of a critical examination of a number of theses as to the nature of game-playing, the following definition is advanced: To play a game is to engage in activity directed toward bringing about a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by specific rules where the means permitted by the rules are more limited in scope than they would be in the absence of the rules, and where the sole reason for accepting such limitations is to make possible such activity.

Prompted by the current interest of social and behavioral scientists in games and encouraged by the modest belief that it is not demonstrably impossible for philosophers to say something of interest to scientists, I propose to formulate a definition of game playing. […]

1. Game-Playing as the Selection of Inefficient Means. Mindful of the ancient canon that the quest for knowledge obliges us to proceed from what is knowable to us to what is knowable in itself, I shall begin with the commonplace that playing games is different from working. Games, therefore, might be expected to be what work, in some salient respect, is not. Let me now baldly characterize work as “technical activity,” by which I mean activity in which an agent (as rational worker) seeks to employ the most efficient available means for reaching a desired goal. Since games, too, evidently have goals, and since means are evidently employed for their attainment, the possibility suggests itself that games differ from technical activities in that the means employed in games are not the most efficient. Let us say, then, that games are goal-directed activities in which inefficient means are intentionally (or rationally) chosen. […]

By | October 14th, 2013|Categories: Simulations|Tags: , |0 Comments