The NDSU GAMES Project

GAMES are Graphically Advanced Multi-player Educational Simulations. The GAMES idea is to create multiplayer, educational, simulated worlds (sometimes called synthetic or virtual worlds); then to populate those worlds with authentic simulated artifacts (objects, devices, agents, and so forth); and then to open that world to learners for exploration, discovery, problem solving, and learning.

When playing in GAMES, a human learner is immersed in a Reality-Oriented Learning Experience (ROLE). The players in a ROLE-based environment actively participate in a sustained problem-solving simulation. To succeed in these virtual worlds, and to effectively play the GAMES, a learner will necessarily master the concepts and skills required to play their part in the ROLE-based environment.

ROLE-based learning is learning-by-doing, but not the mere goal oriented "doing" of a task. ROLE-based learning is learning-by-doing within the structure and context of playing a role. Rather than simply teaching goal-based behavior and task-oriented skills, ROLE-based learning teaches a way of practice - where you do not just learn the law, but how to "think like a lawyer".

The Big Picture

Virtual Environments for Education at NDSU
By putting a student in a world that "sufficiently" models the domain you are teaching,
  • the student learns about that world
  • the student learns their role in it
  • the student learns about the domain.
In order for this to work, the simulated world must be a) predictable, b) compelling and engaging, c) reactive to the students actions, and d) sensitive to the student's needs. A GAMES world is:
a) Predictable
because it make sense in terms of the real world -- in other words, the simulation is "sufficiently authentic"
b) Compelling and Engaging
because a comic-like graphical interface (the MOOPort) presents the virtual world.
c) Reactive
because the game is built on an existing architecture for realtime multiplayer games (MUDs), using the most flexible implementation (Pavel Curtis's LambdaMOO, from Xerox PARC).
d) Sensitive
because there is a Proactive Tutor in the simulated world, watching the players' actions and informing them when they do something questionable.

Related Links

Published Papers:

Original text by Cliff Chaput and Brian Slator, Revised by Brian Slator
Last modified: Friday, January 10, 1997, 3:18:21 PM
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