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  • Writer's pictureDaniel J. King

Dissertation Blog #13

Citation of the Day

Weitze, Charlotte Laerke. “Developing Goals and Objectives for Gameplay and Learning.” In Karen Schrier, ed., Learning, Education & Games, Vol 1: Curricular and Design Considerations, pp. 227-252. ETC Press, 2014.

This chapter explains how learning goals and game goals must be aligned in a game for education, and it discusses the example of Re-Mission 2. The game has specific learning goals, which are embodied by game goals that are concrete, achievable, and enticing for the player. For game goals to be motivating, they must arouse curiosity and provide the player a sense of competence, autonomy, and control. It is best to split game goals into overlapping long-, medium-, and short-term goals.

Design and Mechanics

In Field of Cures, the short-term goal is to produce certain species through cross-breeding, which corresponds to the goal of learning the game's model of genetics.

The medium-term goal is to run clinical trials in order to discover new medicines, and the long-term goal is to develop the regions of the game world in order to either cure the world's population of The Virus or accumulate vast riches for yourself. These goals correspond to the goals of learning about ethical issues in pharmaceutical development and biodiversity conservation.

Up to now, I've written much on the goals in terms of the game design, but now I need to think about the goals in terms of what I want to gain from conducting the participatory design study. I must articulate the guiding research questions of the study.

Main Question: How can I design a mobile game that teaches a basic model of genetics, raises awareness of ethical issues in pharmaceutical research and biodiversity conservation, and also raises money for science advocacy?

Sub-Questions: What is the best way to achieve the following goals?

  1. Revise the cross-breeding mechanics to make the core game loop easy to understand and enjoyable. I need playtesting feedback on my working prototype.

  2. Make players understand the distinction between clinical significance and statistical significance and why it matters in research. My current idea to to present players with a binary choice every time a cross-breeding puzzle has been solved. The game will present different examples of how a study design can tilt toward clinical significance or statistical significance. Choosing statistical significance will allow the player to earn profit faster, but the medicines they produce will provide less benefit to the patients of the game world.

  3. Show the value of biodiversity conservation. My current idea is to periodically give the player a chance to develop one of the regions of the game world with a nature reserve, and factory, or a villa. A nature reserve gives the player bonus specimens which can make the core game loop easier, whereas a factory or villa will cause a region to cease providing specimens entirely.

  4. Show the trade-off between the maximizing profit and serving the public good. My current idea is that when a player builds a factory, they can decide to lower the prices of a medicine to help more patients or use the economies of scale to earn extra profit.

  5. Monetize the game for the purpose of generating donations for an organization such as the American Academy for the Advancement of Science. There are numerous ways that microtransactions (or a one-time payment) could be worked into the game. Which are the best? How many different strategies should be employed? Does it make a difference that the game is meant to raise money for an altruistic cause?

I think I will have to divide the study into a playtesting phase with the working digital prototype and a brainstorming phase to discuss questions 2-5.

Current Events

I have been interrupted numerous times while writing this blog this morning. I am thinking ahead to when I have to do my candidacy exams, and I have an idea: Send the girls to stay with our relatives down south on the weekends when I have to focus on writing.

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