Supervising B.A. Game Projects
It's been nearly four years with Gamedec: Game Studies & Design - and the very first year I have run the game-focused B.A. Seminar. With the first round of B.A. defenses coming in June/July, we are nearing the end of this journey. And what a journey it was! As an academic teacher, I find nothing more exciting than the creative passion fueling design projects. Nothing more rewarding than watching students rise from amateurs to professionals. This seminar, in all likelihood, will exceed my expectations.
What I expected from each gamedec was a new game project of their own design. In previous semesters, we had focused on small-scale teamwork. On the B.A. level, gamedecs would demonstrate the ability to design and develop an individual project in collaboration with an industry stakeholder or informal 'supervisor'. (Currently, the Ministry of Higher Education is introducing such double academic-industry supervision for industry-oriented doctoral projects; we've done the same with B.A.) Two gamedecs had unlocked this achievement before we even began the seminar: Iza had found a commercial publisher for her detective card game, and Adrianna had done an excellent job as the manager of an award-winning Minecraft project. Now they just need to write short reports on the completed work.
Łukasz, Arek and Maciej are developing card and board games with expert supervision from Sirius Game Studio. One is a Hearthstone-style battle card game based on deckbuilding. Next comes a board simulation of WW2 naval battle featuring U-boats and convoys. Then, there is a strategic conflict between global powers that extensively rely on renewable energy and weather control. The board is too large for an average table, last Wednesday we playtested it on the floor. :)
That's not all. There is Anna with an edu-larp for corporate training, developed in English in collaboration with a foreign business partner. Paulina with an educational board game for biology classes, consulted with a business developer at Rebel.pl. Maciej, who switched from a digital game to a board game in mid-term and is still able to finish the project in due time. And there is Max with something very special.
Max's board game is designed as a tool for therapists working with people with intellectual disabilities. He developed it in consultation with psychologists who specialise in such treatment. He spent a lot of time at a local therapy center to get to know the target audience: participated in group sessions, played various games with the patients, and of course playtested his own project. I was happy beyond measure to hear that in the therapist's opinion the game does actually make a difference: the creative, communicative and collaborative activities seem to work better when embedded in the game. The patients get more involved, more open, and less inhibited than they tend to be in non-gaming sessions.
A heart-warming detail you can see in the pics: the meeples, hand-made by the patients themselves. Not only did they playtest Max's game, they also co-created the prototype. Talking about further development and professional release, we are planning to include the target group in the process. The moment I walked into the care center, I saw the potentials of using game design for occupational therapy. And why not do it the other way around?