Computer games authored by children: a multi-perspective evaluation

Abstract

The effects of games on learning and skill development are being examined by a number of researchers [1], although with the notable exception of Kafai [3], much research places children in the role of game <i>consumers</i>. In line with a constructionist approach [4], we believe that allowing children to design and implement their own games will lead to deeper learning and transferable skills.We are investigating the relationship between game creation and the development of children's narrative skills. Non-programmers can now create 3D interactive virtual reality role-playing games using toolsets that ship with certain commercial games (e.g. <i>Neverwinter Nights</i>). By adapting these toolsets, and the game content, to children, we could develop game creation environments which allow children to author narrative games by creating settings, characters, a plot structure, and possible dialogues for each character. Given the interactive nature of such dialogue, children would need to create multiple plot threads and associated dialogue. Other children could then play the game, and have a potentially different experience each time the game is played. We believe that these types of environments would have a beneficial effect on the development of narrative skills and overall literacy, and have carried out various pilot studies which look at the <i>process</i> of creating role-playing games by children [2, 5].In this paper, we look at the <i>product</i> of game creation, specifically at 3D interactive virtual reality games created by adolescents using the <i>Neverwinter Nights</i> toolset. We feel it is important to determine whether games which are considered to be good from an educational perspective are also good from the perspective of potential game players.To explore this question, we carried out a multi-faceted qualitative study from three perspectives: children, expert game designers, and teachers. As the basis for interaction with the three target groups, we used created by 10 young people aged 12-15 using the <i>Neverwinter Nights</i> toolset [5]. While examining the games, the interviewees discussed the features of successful games. Although there are clear, and expected, differences in perspective between the three groups, there are also common themes.

DOI: 10.1145/1017833.1017852

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Good2004ComputerGA, title={Computer games authored by children: a multi-perspective evaluation}, author={Judith Good and Judy Robertson}, booktitle={IDC}, year={2004} }