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Design Outside of the Box

Written by: Bill Sherman on Saturday, 20 March 2010, 6:09 AM

Recently, a friend pointed me to this presentation from DICE 2010: “Design Outside of the Box” presented by Carnegie Mellon professor¬†Jesse Schell.

It’s a long presentation, but it’s a piece that really encapsulates powerful trends in social networking, game design, and human behaviors.

In this presentation, he highlights some of the most unexpected trends in social media and games over the past few years: Guitar Hero, Facebook, Webkins, and Mafia Wars. More importantly, he looks at the psychological twist (or hook) embedded within each game.

In ¬†the world of digital game design, we’re seeing a huge shift in the psychology of games from single-person experiences to massively multiplayer experiences that reward you when you blend real-life and game-world. If you’ve been on Facebook, you’ve probably seen Farmville’s “lost cows” wandering through the stream of your friend’s status updates.

Yes, you can leave a note on your friend’s facebook wall, or if you both play a Facebook game together, you can give them a gift which allows them to advance in the game. This constant gift giving makes a viral game, and it also pings on the psychological principle of reciprocity. If you give something, then you can expect that the recipient will feel a social pressure to give something in return.

These seemingly innocuous Facebook games took the videogame industry by surprise, but they also have impact far beyond gaming. I’d propose that they present a new way of generating collaborative learning within simulations.

Next generation learning solutions cannot just push content to learners and expect they will learn like passive sponges. In the old days, instructional design followed a clear linear path (“ADDIE“) from analysis through design, development, and implementation. Now, we’re in a world where we have to design massively multi-learner collaborative learning environments.

This video offers a lot of key insights for serious games (simulation training as well as social learning). In fact, if I were teaching a course on next-gen instructional design, I’d put it on the syllabus.

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