In past blog posts, I’ve written about building the right development team for creating self-paced distance educational tools. I will continue this discussion on assembling teams by addressing the team needs of serious educational game and simulation projects.
At Web Courseworks, we partner with strong independent game and simulation designers like Clark Aldrich and his company Clark Aldrich Designs. This partnership has provided us with the strength of having an individual who has written several renowned books on the subject of effectiveness of games and simulations in an educational environment as part of the development process. Learning by Doing and The Complete Guide to Simulations & Serious Games are both great resources that creators of educational games and simulations can use to build mutual understanding and increase collaboration between all members of the development team and sponsors. Too often, a professor or corporate client uses their powerful position to tell experienced and educated multi-media designers what elements and mechanics make a great simulation without intellectual discussion or the unpinning to support their assertions.
To be a success, lead designers need to understand game goals, mechanics, and the process of development. They need to put a team approach into practice that fosters creativity and innovation and is held together by a rigid process. In addition to the lead designer, team members include writers, programmers, and of course a project manager.
The key is having an industry leader who both wrote the book on the subject and enjoys participating in the applied practice. Recently, Web Courseworks and Clark Aldrich collaborated on “Play True Challenge” for the World Anti-Doping Agency and “Distraction Dodger” for the ITS Institute at the University of Minnesota. Both have been award winning efforts at using game mechanics to educate and inform game players.
Earlier today, “Distraction Dodger” was released online the world’s most popular casual game sites including Kongregate, Newgrounds, and Mochimedia. The game is expected to receive an extremely positive response. The game not only has a high profile theme of increasing awareness of the effects of distracted driving, but follows in the footsteps of Gridlock Buster, a preceding serious game also developed for the University of Minnesota’s ITS Institute that has received over 3 million plays to date.