Joseph Villella

UBC MET - ETEC 544

Individual Intellectual Productions

I.P. 1 - Digital Games & Learning Perspectives

     Gee (2008) in their article, “Cats and portals: Video games, learning, and play”, explores how video games provide ways for users to engage with the discovery aspect of play. The author explains that discovery through play can eventually lead to mastery of a skill, whether the user realizes it or not, due to the passion of a user to further explore an environment or from implicit knowledge that the user learns along the way. Gee also found that the deep learning and problem-solving aspects of video games can encourage users to change the way they think about the possibilities of a given environment. Gee provides an example that a young woman learning about a digital tool through the discovery of play is more relevant and important to her than much of what she learns in school, however, this would be using an unrealistic assumption that all students would have both the knowledge and ability to use these pieces of technology on their own. Furthermore, Gee also references good games are directly related to principles supported by research in the learning sciences yet is arguing the fact that the current schoolwork that would eventually lead students to these research roles are not providing students with twenty-first-century skills. Gee claims that children cope well with complex language through popular culture activities such as strategic card games, but does this exposure to complex language directly and measurably translate to academic success of students as he implies?

     In the article by Gee & Gee (2017) titled, “Games as distributed teaching and learning systems”, the authors suggest that new understandings of distributed systems of teaching and learning (DTAL) will help teaching and learning evolve in the 21st century. They explain that games help foster excellent DTAL systems through various learning and teaching opportunities that can occur online and offline as well as through tools designed by game developers and affinity spaces created from the bottom up. These learning experiences through DTAL systems help humans have a deeper understanding of the conversations we have with each other and with the world itself which can provide society with the tools to continually reform and transform. Gee & Gee argue that criminals may even be organized into better teaching and learning systems than many of our schools, however it is of note that the basic learning systems that schools introduce to children are necessary for DTAL systems to function. They discuss the importance of how humans can have conversations with the world in video games and other virtual worlds that can provide experiences that translate to the real world; however, they assume that these experiences are bug-free and are what the creators and developers have intended. Gee & Gee provide many qualitative arguments for the support of DTAL systems, but is there any quantitative data to support their claims?

The article by Gee (2008) titled “Cats and Portals: Video Games, Learning, and Play” and the article by Gee & Gee (2017) titled “Games as distributed teaching and learning systems” both express the positive impact that video games and other digital medias can have on the traditional learning systems we have in place today. They also both provide qualitative evidence that video games can provide children and adults the opportunity to grow their problem-solving and social skills through passion and self-guided learning.

References

Gee, J. P. (2008). Cats and portals: Video games, learning, and play. American Journal of Play, 1(2), 229.

Gee, E., & Gee, J. P. (2017). Games as distributed teaching and learning systems. Teachers College Record (1970), 119(12), 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1177/016146811711901202

I.P. 2 - Annotated Bibliography

Wang, A. I., & Tahir, R. (2020). The effect of using Kahoot! for learning – A literature review. Computers and Education, 149, 103818. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2020.103818

Wang & Tahir’s literature review investigates the effect of using “Kahoot!”, a game-based student response system, for learning. The authors specifically look at how Kahoot! affects learning performance, classroom dynamics, and student anxiety while also questioning student and teacher perceptions of the learning tool. The literature review concludes that using Kahoot! in learning environments can positively affect student performance as both students and teachers perceive it as a valuable learning tool.

To conduct this literature review, Wang & Tahir created a review protocol to assist in their thorough search for relevant work. This protocol would assist in their search, filtering, data extraction, and synthesis steps to provide them measurable and comparable results to conclude. To be included, the article must reference Kahoot! in the title or abstract, be written in English, and be published in an international peer-reviewed journal or conference. Ninety-three articles comprising of quantitative and qualitative analyses were chosen to be included in this review, of which 86% contained quantitative analyses while 52% contained qualitative analyses.

The cumulative findings of Wang & Tahir provided conclusions that can be seen as reasonable since 88% of studies concluded that Kahoot! had a positive impact on students and teachers. The review protocol was well designed and many threats to validity were clearly identified. The authors provided clear reasoning for why certain articles were not included in this review. The articles selected mostly contained sample sizes that would be seen as proficient; however, a few contained incredibly small sample sizes. Wang & Tahir have provided an in-depth and agreeable literature review to evaluate the effect Kahoot! can have on teachers and students as a game-based student response system.

Zainuddin, Z., Chu, S. K. W., Shujahat, M., & Perera, C. J. (2020). The impact of gamification on learning and instruction: A systematic review of empirical evidence. Educational Research Review, 30, 100326. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.edurev.2020.100326

Zainuddin et al. provide a systematic literature review based on the summary of empirical findings relating to the impact and use of gamification in education.  The authors attempt to answer six research questions relating to methodological approaches, underlying theoretical models, available apps and platforms, participants’ levels of education and common game mechanics, potential effects of implementing gamification in different education fields, and potential areas of research that should be explored next. The authors conclude that there is a positive effectiveness of gamification in education as evident in changes to student engagement and motivation, academic achievement, and interaction and socialisation.

The authors used a systematic methodological approach in their research design to search and collect data from their selected articles. Only academic journals published in Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science that contained empirical research with descriptions of the theories and methods used were included in this review. Furthermore, the journals were required to be written in English and relate to gamification at any level of education across the world. Of the 46 articles included in this review, 25 used quantitative methods, 19 used mixed methods, and 2 used qualitative methods.

The findings of Zainuddin et al. are meaningful to gamification research as they provide a thoughtful review of current research. The authors clearly presented their findings and provided reasonable explanations for their choice of research methods. This literature review was limited in scope due to only including articles published between 2016 and 2019 in Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science. Of the 46 articles, only 10 articles pertained to elementary schools and secondary schools collectively, which also limits this review. However, the authors use this data to provide a foundation for future research by identifying limitations in current gamification research to provide insight and reasoning for potential future areas of research.

I.P. 4 - What Is A Game?

I.P. 7 - Playing Online: Twitch Broadcasting

Streaming on sites such as Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook has become more prevalent over the past few years as shown through research done by Wulf et al. (2020) titled “Watching players: An exploration of media enjoyment on Twitch” and by Taylor (2018) titled “Twitch and the work of play”. These articles touch on the two different perspectives of being a viewer and being a producer of gaming streams. I observed three streamers, Zizaran, Ninja, and GernaderJaker, to explore the important points raised in the articles.

From a viewer perspective, some points mentioned by Wulf et al. (2020) were immediately evident. The authors mentioned how the relationship between a streamer and their viewers is equivalent to a “virtual friendship” (Wulf et al., 2020). The interactions across these streams were very supportive of this concept as Zizaran and GernaderJake were constantly involved with their chat by continuing conversations with users instead of simply answering their questions and moving on. Ninja interacted with chat in a different way as his chat was limited to only those who subscribe to his stream. The users chatting were interacting with each other and were asking questions relating to the game which also supports the research done by Wulf et al. (2020) relating to streams being a community which presents a “unique digital learning paradigm” between streamers and viewers.

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Zizaran’s and GernaderJake’s channels provided a digital community as also presented by Wulf et al. (2020). These viewers were interacting with each other and asking questions about the game that the streamers were playing. In some instances, the viewers were even making plans to meet up in their respective games to partake in the same activities that the streamers were doing at the time. Not all streams seemed to have the same level of viewer-to-viewer interaction. Zizaran and GernaderJake, who both actively participated with the chat, had a community in which there were a lot more discussions in the chat. Ninja, who rarely participated with the chat, had less discussions amongst users in his chat.

The enjoyment factor of suspense mentioned by Wulf et al. (2020) was evident during all three streams. GernaderJake and Ninja were playing competitive shooters, Destiny 2 and Fortnite respectively, and were facing-off against other players in player-verse-player modes. Chat was very active in GernaderJake’s channel as they reacted live to the outcomes of matches. Zizaran was playing Terraria and going through the game to defeat certain bosses as his chat gave him advice to progress through the game. The chat showed empathy and advice the few times that Zizaran failed at the boss and shared in the excitement and celebration when he was finally able to defeat it.

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From the streamer perspective of production, all three channels showed a true balancing act being performed by the streamers. Their material and digital infrastructure and set design, both through virtual overlay and their physical backgrounds, were very impressive and added to the quality of the stream. GernaderJake’s channel featured notifications that would show anytime someone subscribed or donated, and he had a notification bar on the top as a “leaderboard” relating to donations. The background of his streaming set was also impressive with the use of his channel brand “Jungle Squad” in LED lights along with his channel icon imprinted on the glass of his computer case. If a viewer had questions about the specific mouse or microphone he was using, he would direct them to a YouTube video in which he goes over all his streaming equipment.

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As discussed by Taylor (2018), streamers tend to take on an “entertaining persona” to captivate the viewers. To achieve this, streamers normally will talk through their actions as they play and critique the game and their own performance. All three streamers continuously spoke while playing and helped provide viewers the ability to learn from their successes and mistakes. Ninja spoke through communication with his teammates which helped provide reasoning for his actions, while Zizaran spoke through the actions he was taking as a “checklist” before going to a boss.

All three streamers had very distinct economic and commercial frameworks as mentioned by Taylor (2018). GernaderJake’s overlay featuring the leaderboard mentioned prior was a prime example of his framework. Furthermore, his channel points (points which automatically are accumulated through view time on his stream) are a large factor of his channel. These channel points can be spent to enter raffles to play with GernaderJake and entice the viewer to come back to continue to accumulate the points with the hope of eventually playing with him. This allows GernaderJake is maintain a consistently high view count which is important for ad revenue and potential sponsorships with companies.

The points raised in the articles by Taylor (2018) and Wulf et al. (2020) were very evident during my time viewing streams on Twitch. Streamers must constantly be balancing playing the game, having discussions with your chat, and acting in a way to foster a positive community. A Twitch channel acts as a virtual community for viewers where they can make new friends and learn from each other and the streamer. The future of streaming is bright as the barrier to entry is low, but only the streamers who are successfully able to entice their viewers and form a virtual friendship will be able to succeed.

References

Taylor, T. L. (2018). Twitch and the work of play. American Journal of Play, 11(1), 65-84.

Wulf, T., Schneider, F. M., & Beckert, S. (2020). Watching players: An exploration of media enjoyment on Twitch. Games and Culture, 15(3), 328-346. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412018788161

I.P. 8 - Game Design 101

Video Game Play/Field Note Exercise

Before Playing - Horizon Forbidden West

horizon_2_logo

Question:

What will I like / dislike about it? What will I find interesting about it/boring or tedious about it? What will I need to do in it? What will I need to learn within it? What will it be like / similar to (other games I have played)?

Answer:

  • I will like the gameplay and the graphics of the game. I also think that I will enjoy the story and exploring in the open world. The sense of being able to explore openly and possibly even find hidden secrets sounds exciting.
  • I will most likely dislike the control schemes as I prefer to play on an Xbox controller. I also may dislike the tutorial portion of the game if it starts too slow.
  • I will hopefully find the story compelling and interesting. I also hope to enjoy the various fights and mechanics that the player needs to learn to progress through the game.
  • I will most likely find the tutorial/opening section of the game boring. If there is a lot of backtracking for quests and story progression, I would also find that very tedious.
  • In order to enjoy the game and give it a fair chance, I will need to first read and figure out the controls in case I would like to modify them. I then will need to force myself through the tutorial section of the game if it is not compelling. I will need to practice and take the game slowly to appreciate the story as that is the selling point of the game.
  • I will need to learn and master the controls which may be difficult as I do not normally use a Playstation controller. I will also need to learn the various mechanics that the developer expects player to master in order to progress through the game. I will also need to learn more about the characters and their personal stories to appreciate the overarching stories that the developers created.
  • I think it will be similar to Tomb Raider in terms of the art style and gameplay while also feeling like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in terms of exploration.

I believe that I will enjoy the exploration and gameplay based on previous experiences playing other games in the same genre.

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Solo Playthrough - 1h 20mins

Descriptive Notes

  • Started the game on Normal mode with Explorer setting (more natural exploration instead of markers)
  • Watched introduction cutscene showing the world and different animals. Introduced Aloy (the main character) and the premise of the story.
  • Really impressed by graphics and looks
  • Question who is Elisabet (made me curious during the introductory cutscene).
  • Aloy is looking for a "backup" of code before species go extinct. Aloy says it can fix the world.
  • Learning involved a tutorial with the "Focus" a chip that allows you to see different objects (sort of like Augment Reality).
  • Begins with having to collect berries to heal Aloy (teaches user to heal and about health).
  • A lot of dialogue happens casually while playing
  • Next shows the crafting system to craft arrows using wood collected from trees.
  • Then shows the user to shot an arrow by hitting a lock on a ladder so it drops down.
  • First fight with a machine shows the player how to scan the machine for "weak spots" and to slow down time to aim arrows easier.
  • Then the user finds a ladder naturally and is expected to know to shoot the lock to allow it to lock down like the previous ladder.
  • Crouch along a path to open a door using a weapon. Teaches player to pry open doors with the weapon.
  • Crafted a "pullcaster" to remove debris from a wall by pulling it out.
  • Learned how to grapple to reach high places around the world
  • Found a hidden bunker which progressed the story by introducing Far Zenith
  • Learned how to do silent strikes to defeat machines without entering battle by sneaking up on them
  • Learned how to create traps and place them in the paths of enemies to also defeat them without entering battle
  • Aloy is a genetic copy of Elisabet and was made by a machine (GAIA).
  • Saw two giant snake machines and have to find a way to defeat them.
  • Ran out of arrows and had a hard time remember how to craft more (had to press L1)
  • Had to climb up a tower to release a shuttle to crush the giant snake machines.
  • Tower fell and one snake survived which led to a boss battle
  • Finished by killing the snake machine by using the focus ability to find critical spots.

Analytical Notes:

  • Problems:
    • Story: Aloy is trying to restore the world by finding a backup of GAIA - a system that can heal the world and solve the rampant machines roaming the world.
    • Story: Aloy seems to have some sort of connection with Elisabet which the player must continue to explore and understand throughout the game.
    • Story: Aloy is not human and was created by GAIA as a last-resort. Aloy is struggling with her self-identity since coming to this realization.
    • Gameplay: Aloy is weaker and missing abilities and tools as they were taken from her at some point prior to the game starting.
  • Address Problems:
    • Story: Continue to follow Aloy through problem-solving and using her Focus ability to learn more about the world around her and find the backup of GAIA.
    • Gameplay: Continue to find new materials and resources to craft new items to strengthen Aloy's abilities.
  • Gender, Class, Race, and Violence
    • Gender: Aloy is a strong female protagonist created by the team at Guerrilla Games. The studio has received positive feedback and fan reaction for creating Aloy and for her staying true to her character.
    • Race: Many diverse characters are in the game and in prominent roles (not just background characters).
    • Violence: Although the game is fictitious and involves the killing of machines, it does still invoke violence.
  • Learning
    • The game's tutorial system is focused on naturally progressing the player throughout the first level instead of it being a traditional "tutorial level". The player is thrown right in to the story of Horizon and small pop-ups only explain mechanics when they are needed.
    • The game also uses shades of yellow to hint to the players that a ledge of object may be grabbable.
  • Unique Features
    • The "Focus" ability of Aloy's is a unique feature as it allows her to scan her environment and enemies. When scanning the environment, it may lead her to clues of how to escape structures of progress through a path. When scanning an enemy, it shows her the weakspots, health points, path it may take if she would like to sneak up on it, and other useful information.
    • The graphics of the game are genre-defining as they are realistic and exceptional.

Affective Notes:

  • To start the game, I was a bit confused but also excited as I learned about Aloy's story and her objectives.
  • I was frustrated as I could not complete the first objective. I could not find all ten berries that would help me craft healing items and could only find nine. I gave up and progressed through the area.
  • I was intrigued while learning more about Aloy's past and the realization that she was not truly human. I became much more invested in the story.
  • I was frustrated as I could not find a way to stealth attack enemies and kept failing the objective. I then realized that you could only crouch in red bushes and not any bush which was causing enemies to be able to spot me.
  • I enjoyed the stealth mechanic more after realizing my mistake.
  • I became extremely frustrated and wasted five minutes after I ran out of arrows and could not figure out how to craft more. I searched through the menus to try to find the option and even tried to find a tutorial in the game menus but could not. Eventually I was able to figure out how to craft arrows and progress.
  • I was happy and really enjoyed the section of the game that involved climbing up a structure as it encourage exploration to determine how to climb the structure.
  • I became frustrated at the mechanical snake boss fight as no matter when I timed my roll or how much I would try to dodge the snakes attacks, it would always hit me. I ended up using all of my healing items and have no berries left to craft more which left me really frustrated.

Horizon Forbidden West empowers the user to use problem-solving and exploration to uncover the story of Aloy's world. By using her Focus ability and resources scoured throughout the environment, Aloy continues her quest to find the backup of GAIA to save the world.

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Video Observation - FightinCowboy - 57mins

Descriptive Notes

  • As FightinCowboy (FC) starts, he explains how he really enjoyed the first game and how he actually went back to play the Downloadable content for the game which is not something he normally does. Due to this comment, I am assuming he is going in to this game with a predetermined opinion that he will also enjoy it.
  • Starts by watching a recap of the previous game.
  • He selected "Hard" difficulty with the Explorer setting.
  • Brought up how he can feel the controller vibrating throughout the cutscenes to explain to those watching the Let's Play.
  • FC was quickly able to find all of the plants needed and also explained how much he loves when games have fast gathering like in Horizon.
  • Realized that running over "Blight" (red stuff on ground) will make him take damage immediately after running on it. I did not realize this until much later.
  • Very quick at crafting and seemed to understand where he should be going at all times.
  • Instead of taking damage to the "Blight" he would jump over it and jump into safe spots instead of running through and healing (which is what I did).
  • Had very good aim in the first encounter with a machine which showed his skill.
  • Used a "slow-time" feature in the first encounter to aim better.
  • To make sure he did not run out of arrows, he would collect every material he saw. Looking back, I missed a lot of materials.
  • Used Focus a lot to scan the environment even when not hinted to.
  • Tried different melee combos to see how they work with Aloy's spear.
  • Really was focused on the combat aspect of the game
  • Had no issues with stealth kills and very easily progressed through all of the combat scenarios.
  • Rarely got hit by enemies and used mostly melee attacks
  • Says that he uses the indicators on the screen to determine where to go once he is done exploring, but puts exploring as his first priority.
  • Understands the story and has a good grasp of what is going on in the world. He spoke a good deal about what happened in the previous game and the character's backstories.
  • Found that he could craft "frost bombs" which are useful for killing enemies. I seemed to miss the ability to craft this item.
  • Used rolling a lot to go through the world compared to just walking.
  • Used Focus to look through walls to do silent strikes.

Analytical Notes:

  • FC had a much easier time traversing through the game compared to myself. As he had played the previous game, he seemed to have a much better understanding
  • FC seemed to have less issues with the game compared to the ones I had during my playthrough. I think due to his further exploration of areas he was better equipped with resources.
  • FC crafted arrows immediately after he would use any which always allowed him to have full arrows. Since he crafted them so often, he did not run into the issue I had which was forgetting how to craft arrows.
  • FC did not comment on any of the race, gender, class, or violence issues relating to this game. However, he did mention a few times that he really enjoyed the combat and how fluid it felt. Therefore, I am assuming he enjoys Horizon partially due to the violence aspect of the combat.
  • While watching FC, I felt like I was able to enjoy the story more and felt a lot less frustrated compared to when I had played. While I played, I was so focused on learning the mechanics and systems that I was too frustrated to really get a good grasp of the story.

Affective Notes:

  • Really enjoyed the fast gathering
  • Thought that continuous dialogue was really cool throughout the game and it added to his experience.
  • Seemed to really enjoy the Focus ability and problem-solving
  • FC focused more on the scanning and exploration compared to how I focused on progression. Due to him playing the first game, he seemed to have a better idea of where to go and the overall game systems. Therefore, his immediate experience with the game seemed a lot more positive than mine.
  • Due to my frustration, I missed a lot of resources that I could have collected as I focused more on finding ways out of areas instead of exploring what was in the areas.
  • Really enjoyed the combat and was happy with how good it felt.
  • Said that he prefers combat and the game started very story heavy so he was a bit unhappy with that.

Horizon Forbidden West provides a very rewarding experience for those who played the previous title. It is a worthy sequel to the first game as it fine-tunes the mechanics and systems that fans loved.

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The Final Bridge

Horizon Forbidden West is a story-driven game that provides players an outlet for exploration and problem-solving. The game follows Aloy, the female protagonist, on her quest to find a backup of a program called GAIA to fix the world as it is deteriorating. After my initial playtime with Horizon Forbidden West as a newcomer to the franchise and after watching a seasoned veteran of the series, it is easy to see that Guerrilla Games has mastered storytelling through the “single player versus game” structure (Fullerton, 2014, p. 59).

Horizon Forbidden West falls into the action role-playing genre of gaming with the player objectives of exploration, finding solutions, and capturing an item (Fullerton, 2014, p. 68-72). Players explore the vast lands filled with puzzles while trying to find the “GAIA backup” which will restore the world to its original state. The game has different difficulty modes to challenge and engage players of all skills levels (Fullerton, 2014, p. 97). Horizon Forbidden West uses Fullerton’s ideology of resources through Aloy’s health and inventory systems (2014, p. 80-83). If Aloy’s health reaches zero while exploring the world, the player must restart from the last checkpoint and try again. The main conflict in the series is between Aloy and different organizations who have caused the world to be overrun by rampant AI machines. These machines are hostile and are Aloy’s main enemies.

Story elements in gaming are normally used to “propel adventure games along their mainly single-player campaigns”, which are evident in Horizon Forbidden West’s story progression and Aloy’s growth as a character (Fullerton, 2014, p. 113). The story allows some room for players to explore and problem-solve throughout the world instead of being on a completely linear story path. While there is only one conclusion to the game, there are several different ways to get there depending on choices made by the player.

Aloy is a very strong female protagonist who has received universal praise in the gaming industry for her characterization (Williams, 2020). Unlike other female characters like Lara Croft, Cortana, and Princess Peach, she is not a damsel in distress or a character looking for reassurance from a male character. She was not designed to emphasize her sexuality compared to the other 85.71% of female characters in gaming (Gray & Leonard, 2018). Aloy is a confident female lead who has a strong belief in herself and her abilities. Using Fullerton’s research into video game characters, Aloy would be a rounded and dynamic character due to her dramatic character arc (2014, p. 110). The depth of Aloy’s story and characterization also creates engagement for both players of Horizon Forbidden West and viewers of livestreams and videos. As the player journeys through the story, it is very easy for an audience to become engaged with Aloy due to her relatable characteristics such as her dealing with real emotions.

Horizon Forbidden West also combats the issue of racial bias in the gaming industry by introducing characters of all races and not just as background non-playable characters. Research done by a 2009 study analyzed that only 10.7% of characters of 150 of the most popular gaming titles were black characters (Peckham, 2020). Horizon Forbidden West’s characters are not only all diverse but are also impactful to the story through their prominent roles.

As Horizon Forbidden West’s combat revolves around weapons, violence is a main part of gameplay. Aloy uses weaponry such as bows, spears, and bombs to defeat the machines that roam the world. Since Aloy’s main enemies are machines, there is no remorse from Aloy during combat. To the player this may seem reasonable since the violence is happening against non-living machines. However, Aloy herself is a machine. Since the player feels deeply connected with Aloy and her character, the ideology of violence against a non-living machine being acceptable is not reasonable since the player would feel emotion if Aloy was hurt or killed. This follows the conclusion that violence, regardless of who it is against, is still prevalent and glorified in Horizon Forbidden West through objectives such as defeating machines.

One major factor to a player’s enjoyment of Horizon Forbidden West is their knowledge and understanding of events that took place in the first game of the series. As Horizon Forbidden West is a sequel, players who did play the original game could have a deeper understanding of the characters and gameplay mechanics. This gives those players a large advantage and an easier path of enjoyment of the game compared to a newcomer who is learning the controls and mechanics for the first time. Although Horizon Forbidden West has an excellent non-traditional tutorial system, players who have experience with the gameplay are more likely to enjoy the game quicker. There are also small yet impactful design choices, such as making grabbable objects have a tint of yellow, that make the game more accessible. Additionally, tips and hints are accessible using Aloy’s focus ability which also is used to aid new players in finding their way through the story. After watching FightinCowboy, a YouTube Content Creator, it was very evident that he began enjoying the game quicker than I due to his knowledge and understanding of the game prior to playing. Although this is not a significant barrier to entry for players, it is still noteworthy.

Horizon Forbidden West will be looked at as a golden standard of storytelling in gaming for years to come. It has created an impactful and progressive female protagonist in Aloy who will also be used as a shining beacon in the gaming industry. Horizon Forbidden West has pushed the gaming industry in the right direction by showing just how impactful a strong and non-sexualized female character can be while surrounded by a diverse cast of characters.

Horizon Forbidden West will be looked at as a golden standard of storytelling in gaming for years to come. It has created an impactful and progressive female protagonist in Aloy who will also be used as a shining beacon in the gaming industry. Horizon Forbidden West has pushed the gaming industry in the right direction by showing just how impactful a strong and non-sexualized female character can be while surrounded by a diverse cast of characters.

References

Fullerton, T. (2014). Game design workshop : A playcentric approach to creating innovative games. CRC Press.

Gray, K. L., & Leonard, D. J. (2018). Woke gaming : Digital challenges to oppression and social injustice. University of Washington Press.

Peckham, E. (2020, June 21,). Confronting racial bias in video games. https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/21/confronting-racial-bias-in-video-games/

Williams, H. (2020, August 3,). How horizon zero dawn moves beyond the strong female character. https://www.kotaku.com.au/2020/08/how-horizon-zero-dawn-moves-beyond-the-strong-female-character/

Collaborative Final Project - Face the Bass

TitleScreen

Assignments & Assets

To download the GDevelop File (.zip) and GDevelop Assets (.zip), right click the button and hit copy link address. Paste the address into a new tab to download.

Self Reflection

Playing a role in the creation of “Face the Bass” was exciting and challenging. Throughout the entire process, I was very happy and proud of how my group truly felt like a team. Through the leadership of Ryan Mckenzie along with Tiffany Ku, Pamela MacGregor, and Sheena Chan, we were able to create a fantastic proof-of-concept for an educational music game. I believe our skills have truly improved as we can call ourselves “game developers”.

The road through development and group assignments did not all go smoothly. There were many challenges that we faced individually and collectively. During the entire process, and especially in the beginning, we had to find a way to “mesh” as a group while meeting digitally. This was difficult for me as I find sitting down in-person to brainstorm and generate ideas significantly easier than working digitally. To further complicate our ability to work fluidly, we also had to incorporate us all being in different time zones which sometimes made it difficult to plan meetings. With these challenges in mind, we still were able to work together well to produce our proof-of-concept game.

I believe we did an excellent job working through Fullerton’s exercises. We met multiple times to collaborate and share our ideas. We worked effectively by each completing the questions that we picked as a group. To finalize our submission, we discussed our answers to each question as a group to come up with an answer that includes all viewpoints that each member raised.

While working through the Game Design document assignment, we again were able to collaborate effectively. We used the same formula of meeting to share ideas, work through the document individually while writing notes, and meeting again to collaborate on the final assignment. We decided early in the assignment that the Game Design Document would be a living document. This allowed us to relieve some pressure of having to think of our ideas and stick to them which also allowed us to be more creative as we thought of better ideas. I thought that the Game Design Document worked well and successfully fulfilled its purpose of being a guide to point us in the right direction as we worked to create our proof-of-concept.

We decided in our first meeting that we would use G-Develop to create our game as it seemed to have all the tools we were looking for in a beginner friendly layout. Ryan took the lead as the main coder of our game since G-Develop didn’t have a friendly way to allow collaboration. Ryan did try to export the project so we could try to add a few things in, however, upon opening the project all the objects were missing and blank. This was extremely frustrating as it put a lot of extra pressure on Ryan as the primary coder. In the future, I would try to find a different program that would possibly allow for easier collaboration with a “cloud save” option for the project.

In order to assist Ryan, our best option was to code the section of the game that we were responsible for in our own G-Develop file. After it was complete and our coding was correct, we uploaded the asset files to a Google Drive folder to share with Ryan. To share the code, we would take screenshots of our final code so that Ryan could copy it manually into the main game project. I think that this solution was our best option for collaboration, and I do not think that I would want to change anything regarding it. G-Develop itself was a great platform which I would recommend to other beginner game developers. It has clear menus and many tutorial videos found you YouTube. Overall, it is clearly a well-established game maker.

Looking back at our finished proof-of-concept, I think it is an excellent starting point for a game in the music education genre. There are many opportunities for new features to be added to our game, and with enough time, there are many that we had proposed in our Game Design document. Due to time constraints and the required time to edit the character models, we only have one male playable character. In the future, we would like to include multiple character options for players to pick from so they can play as a character that would best represent themselves.

Another improvement that we would make if we had the resources and time would be to create a more in-depth tutorial system. This tutorial system would allow players to have a better understanding of the musical notes themselves before they begin placing the notes on the lines. We felt like this would allow a more natural progression in learning and therefore players of all skill levels can jump in. With a proper tutorial system, our game could also conform to follow the BC Curriculum (and other provinces’ curriculums) and be used in classrooms around the country. There are not many fun and exciting games that can get students excited about learning music and our goal would be to have Face the Bass fill that gap.

My time using G-Develop and working with my group on this final project was positive. I was able to learn a new skill and explore a game development tool that I may now be able to share with the students I teach. I was lucky to have a great group who worked well together and were all on the same page. Overall, I am excited to share these new skills and experiences with my students and hope to inspire them to try using technology in new and exciting ways.