Thomas W. Price (Dr. Joel Hollingsworth) Department of Computing Sciences
Players of the videogame World of Warcraft (WoW) have collectively logged 5.93 million years of playtime (equivalent to approximately 100,000 60-year-long human lives). While many would argue that WoW and games like it are a waste of time, growing research in the field of Serious Games asks the question: How can we take that almost completely untapped resource of human time and energy and do something good with it? Can we make "Serious Games" that are designed to be as fun and motivating as WoW but also allow the player to accomplish something meaningful in the process?
This research attempts to answer that question through the creation of a Serious Game which addresses the problem of falling numbers of students enrolling in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The game, being developed as an App for Android, allows players to create, test and share their own videogames, all on a device that can fit in their pocket. The goal of the App is to expose players to concepts and skills that they will come across in their STEM education, but to do so outside of the classroom and in a positive way. The act of game creation provides an ideal medium for exposing players to ideas, from specific skills like 2D vectors and geometry to general concepts like translating an idea into a product. Equally important, however, is the fact that making games is fun and engaging. Players not only get to test and share their own games, but also to play those of others.
This research is currently in progress but has already produced a working prototype of the App, which has been used to create some sample games. The presentation will include an overview of Serious Games and the App‘s purpose, as well as a live demonstration.