Abstract Details

Tangential Learning Through Game-based Exercises

The tangential learning workshop is aimed at participants who have or will teach design skills, including social awareness, critical thinking, comparative assessments and systems analysis. The workshop examines how tangential skills and analyses can be performed upon undertaking an exercise in the form of a game, and comparing the exercise with a separate game design process.

This workshop is practitioner focused, and is intended to provide learning through the use of incidental skills used throughout the exercise. So called Megagames, or large-number party games are often used as an icebreaker tool to introduce a large group of people. By modifying some of the rules, it is possible to introduce the element of tangential learning of alternate concepts. It has been posited that learners often display deeper understanding and appreciation of subject matter when they perceive an exercise to be entertaining. (Mozelius, Fagerstrom and Soderquist 2017)



This exercise is designed to be run alongside traditional game-based learning exercises. In current incarnation, it involves a modified game of “Assassin”, a game for which rules were written by Steve Jackson in 1982. The modification for this exercise introduces team-based factions, with powers. While initially seeming to be a simple modification, the powers added to the game are designed to simulate Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games. MOBA games have a large playerbase, with the top games attracting tens of millions of concurrent players daily. A core tenet of MOBA games are a large stable of playable characters, each with unique powers and abilities. Designing for such a game can be a challenge, in no large part due to player-led exploitation of rules or imbalances, that are not immediately apparent when utilising traditional spreadsheet balancing, as well as a large number of interacting mechanics. This exercise simulates various MOBA characters, with each team member representing a traditional HP or health point, and the team as a whole representing a character. It has been run successfully in the past, making apparent to learners the difficulty of mechanical balancing and its often unpredictable effect on player dynamics. Additionally, it has highlighted the difficulty of designing mechanics that involve interaction between multiple entities. Further, it has had an added social awareness and critical thinking benefit in terms of learner understanding. This is due to the necessity in the game to communicate and devise strategies and alliances. When followed by a reflective learning session, the exercise has been previously successful in highlighting MOBA-specific design requirements.

The exercise material requirements are simple: Flipboard paper and marker, a presentation laptop for the workshop leader. This exercise has previously been deployed in the classroom, among third level undergraduate students.

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