Our team collaborated with the Koshland Science Museum to create an award-winning digital tool that supports a set of physical playing materials, to help people learn about disaster resilience.
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How can technology enhance social play?
Extreme Event is first and foremost a face-to-face, social game. We needed to ensure that the digital tool didn’t distract our players from engaging with each other, instead adding excitement and challenge to their experience.
Optimized for iPads, players interact with the digital tool to learn information about their city, and receive alerts and challenges from a facilitator as the game unfolds.
Sound effects and animation help players engage with the tool at just the right moments, ensuring they’re not distracted from the social goals of the game.
Focusing on facilitation
When we first began brainstorming for the digital component, we spent most of our time focusing on the player experience. After iterating on some early sketches, we made what seemed like an inevitable discovery. The facilitator experience is essential to the game, and needed to be a focal point of our work.
Facilitators of the game manage the player experience much like a dungeon master in Dungeons & Dragons (or so we’re told). We wanted to give the facilitator tools to monitor and impact player gameplay, ensuring positive learning outcomes.
The facilitator experience combines a linear script with an “action panel,” which allows the facilitator to quickly trigger custom gameplay events to the players. The simplicity and consistency of interaction allows facilitators to focus on their learners, rather than getting caught up in complex controls.
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The game won Gold in the 2015 International Serious Play Awards and is freely available for download from the Koshland Science Museum.