Megagaming and Professional Education – boring gaming or shallow teaching? Can it work?
Can games and gaming be used to teach complex social sciences in higher education in a way that doesn’t seem forced and cheesy? Do games designed to teach become a chore? Do they sap the fun out of playing? Listen to Alan’s journey as a geeky gamer, into life teaching at a university and his attempts to inject some of the pleasures of gaming into teaching students why people can make mistakes when working with vulnerable people.
In Spring 2018, a group led by Dr Vikki McCall at the University of Stirling held a series of events with practitioners, older adults and policy makers from Scotland, England and Wales to consider challenges in housing and ageing over the coming decade. We used a megagame-style bespoke ‘serious game’ called Hopetown, designed by Jim Wallman of Stone Paper Scissors, to engage a diverse group of people in thinking creatively about the challenges in delivering housing for ageing, and how they might be overcome.
In this session Professor Alasdair Rutherford and Dr Vikki McCall describe the game and discuss how it was effective in producing a creative and participatory approach to identify challenges and explore potential solutions. They reflect on the role of serious games in this megagame style both as a research tool and as a way to engage diverse viewpoints from a broad audience in a collaborative process. They go on to talk about our future plans for using this game (including perhaps running it as a megagame!) to explore the issues further, and welcome the views and suggestions of the megagame community.
Patrick Rose talks through the challenges and potential solutions in porting an in-person megagame to an online format. If you have an offline game or access to one that you’d like to bring online and run during the pandemic or even after, this talk is for you!
The core gaming audience is described as ‘heterosexual, white, and male’. Attempts to challenge this focus on female players which has created a barrier to inclusion. This session looks instead at the key components of game design practice as a pathway to greater equality and inclusivity.
Megagames are brilliant one-off events where we often build a memorable experience of collective storytelling. In fact, one of the most important outputs from a megagame are the anecdotes told and re-told down the pub not just after the game, but whenever megagamers are gathered together. Over the years there have been many calls for sequel (or legacy) megagames, where the players get to see how the stories they started in their first game turn out over time. And Jim has run a few himself, with varying degrees of success over the years. But there are some elephant traps and things that designers need to take into account when designing a legacy megagame that don’t appear so much in the conventional game.
This session is a short workshop on creating legacy megagames, followed by audience discussion.
Table-spanning maps are inherent to many megagames. They act as a focal point for players across the game and form the core of most mechanical player’s experience. However maps can be difficult to design. Which software product(s) do you use, what resources are available and how do you use them effectively? Just as importantly, how do you make sure the map works well with your design, and helps the players play the game?
In the Map Design for Dummies workshop, John Keyworth walks through finding and updating maps, which software he uses and how he overcomes problems in the design process.
Alex Vince, Chair of the Civil Service Fast Stream Wargaming Network, talks about how his experiences within Megagames led to getting involved in the Wargame profession at work, and chats through things you might want to consider if you want to explore wargaming as a career.
Alex Beck presents ‘From Memphis Mangler to Watch the Skies – a History of Megagames’.
In this talk, followed by questions and audience discussion, Alex covers what he’s learnt from in-depth research and interviews with key people from the megagame community. Alex clears up some misconceptions and provide fascinating details on what led to today’s megagame community!