Game Design and Their Toolkits as Vehicles for Expression

As the technical requirements to produce games diminish, the idea of creating games is occurring to more and more people with more and more purposes in mind. We propose that game design experiences—made possible to an untrained many through toolkits like those mentioned above—are relevant to learners of all ages, and the products and practices of these activities can be positioned to take on more relevance in the world as part of the design of the educational programs that enact them. Like the creation of other forms of media, game design can be a path to agency, giving people new tools to communicate about and in their lives. The games they make might be capable of contributing to a wide set of situations in their lives. We should not only take from these toolkits the distilled, testable, STEM-justifiable competencies educators need for their various quotas and crusades, but see our use of them within educational situations as being inherently about enabling people with new ways to make meaning. This perspective has implications for the kinds of games we ask our students to make, the kinds of toolkits we make for them to use, who we include as learners of non-professional game design, and the other activities and experiences educators connect to game design. In particular we recommend more emphasis on the use of non-professional game designs than their inherent properties as games. To help illustrate this general thesis, in the following sections we will look at examples at increasing levels of detail within a given realm of purpose-driven game design, Augmented Reality (AR) games in relation to learning.

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