In March I had the honour to be invited by Anitel (the Italian national association of e-learning tutors) to give this workshop on games, and it was a pleasure for me to meet many other colleagues interested in e-learning and the learning potentiality of virtual worlds.
I can say that in all my second life I’ve been working with games and informal learning, first at Languagelab and then on my own. It was the right occasion for me to think on what I’ve been learning form all these experiences and share with others.
Here you can see the video summarising the workshop (thanks to Richy Ryba for the recording and editing of the video). For those who do not understand Italian, I summarise below the main points.
- The first thing you have to take into consideration when preparing a game is your participants SL skills. Don’t ask them to do something they do not already know how to do or you will spend the first hour explaining technicalities… and who feels like playing a game after that?
- If you are bringing your RL students in SL (and they meet on regular basis in RL) don’t organise games that can be played better in RL. The same kind of games can work pretty well if your students are on an online course (SL adds a socialising element to the game) but are a nonsense in F2F courses
- Use SL to organise something that would be too costly, too complex or too risky in RL.
- There are a lot of ready to play game in SL, mostly the kind of “sitting around and clicking on a thing”. They can be ok but it’s much better if you make your own game (or you use them as part of a longer and more complex game).
- When preparing a game, keep in mind what make SL unique: social interaction, spatial interaction (it’s a 3D environment, isn’t it?) and visual strength. Ah, ok there is also the suspension of disbelief, but we all know about that. Think of a game that uses space, visuals and social interaction and it will be an hit.
- SL limits are as important as its strength: keep them in mind and exploit them. Sometimes they are more interesting and useful than strength points.
- In order to prepare your own game you do not need to be a builder or a scripter: there are a lot of objects you can use, and scripts that can be useful to prepare a game.
- The SL community is very supportive. If people see that you are working on something interesting and you ask a little favour (for instance, to modify a script that you already have) they will be very happy to lend you an hand. But do not pretend that they “make” the game for you, mostly of them have their projects in SL and are usually very busy.
- In my opinion, what works best in SL are scavenger hunts (clever ones, where you have to solve problems and discover things to finish the game) and games where you have to solve a riddle, answer a question or do something in order to get to the next point.
- And, last point: to collaborate people need to know each other. Don’t organise a game that need collaboration among the group without first allowing them the time (a couple of sessions) to know each other.
*The original title of the workshop at Anitel was much better: Facciamo un gioco! that in Italian means both “let’s play a game” and “let’s create a game”.