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Design and development of simulation/game software : implications for higher education Warren, Deborah Vivian

Abstract

Online education is not yet utilizing the interactive potential of computer technology. In the future, higher education faculty may collaborate with commercial game designers to develop simulation/game software. This study analyzes the potential for disjunctions between these two groups of designers. Twenty-two designers of home entertainment computer games were surveyed and interviewed about the prospect of simulation/game software to be developed for use in online education. Specifically, their perspectives were probed with respect to three dimensions: a) designing for open exploration of a specific closure (winners and losers), b) relative commitment to objective or subjective representations of knowledge, and c) preference for pre-planning or a tolerance of the iterative nature of software development. The survey results indicated a preference of game designers to design for a specific closure (with a final determination of winners and losers) rather than an open exploration. A high commitment to representing objective knowledge was also indicated. Interview responses indicated a high tolerance for the iterative nature of software development. The analysis emphasized a disjunction/overlap of an academic culture that elevates critical thinking and a consumer entertainment culture that elevates curiosity. The use of computer simulation games may be most supportive of learning, in a culture than elevates the curiosity above critical thinking, and thus better serve the democratization of knowledge where 'everyone is invited to the knowledge party'. Such an implementation would be a divergence from the typical approach in higher education, where knowledgeparticipants are required to join a 'members-only' club. Future researchers may wish to profile the curiosity of learners and specifically design for this dimension.

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