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Unexpected game calculations in educational wargaming: Design flaw or beneficial to learning?
Försvarshögskolan.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1019-8933
2011 (English)In: Proceedings of DiGRA 2011 Conference: Think Design Play: The fifth international conference of the Digital Research Association (DIGRA), Digital Games Research Association DiGRA , 2011Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper describes situations where learning games are not perceived by the player as being realistic. In educational wargaming this is seen when the game calculates battle-outcomes. Defined as unexpected game calculations, these incidents can cause players to adopt a Gamer Mode attitude, in which players reject the idea that the game accurately portrays warfare. In a study involving cadets playing a commercial strategic wargame as part of their course in war science, unexpected game calculations emerged and resulted in different user responses. Although user responses risked damaging the worth of learning from gaming, this paper argues that these incidents could enhance learning, as the cadets became interested and keen on finding rationales to why and how unexpected calculations occur.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Digital Games Research Association DiGRA , 2011.
Keyword [en]
Game-based learning, military education, simulations, user responses, wargaming
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156864OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-156864DiVA: diva2:768243
Conference
DIGRA 2011
Note

QC 20141208

Available from: 2014-12-03 Created: 2014-12-03 Last updated: 2014-12-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Gamer mode: Identifying and managing unwanted behaviour in military educational wargaming
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gamer mode: Identifying and managing unwanted behaviour in military educational wargaming
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Games are rule-governed systems at the same time as they are fiction, simulating or representing a real or an abstract world. This defining characteristic may create for different forms of tensions, that is, at different times players may focus on the rules, the fiction or on both during game play. In military education with games, this poses a problem when the learner becomes too focused on the rules, trying to win at any price rather than taking the representation and what it implies in terms of permissible behaviour seriously. In here we attempt to understand how participants in a wargaming situation act out this tension by studying the interaction between the player and the game in military tactical training.

The results first of all confirm that there is a tension – there are occasions where players are mainly concerned with winning the wargame, disregarding what the theme is meant to represent. I propose the term gamer mode to refer to this player orientation: players in gamer mode have an extreme rule-focused interaction, meaning they behave rationally with respect to game rules but irrationally with respect to the portrayed real-life situation they are training for. Gamer mode can probably occur for many reasons. This thesis documents two contributing factors. The first concerns whenever the game does not match players’ expectation on mimicking warfare. In these situations players may find that the game breaks the fragile contract of upholding an accurate representation of warfare. The other factor that may lead to gamer mode are game design features such as explicit reward structures or victory conditions.

To remedy the situation, the instructor can, in real-time, actively support players’ orientation towards the game and explain in-game events, keeping them on track. When gamer mode occur I argue that the conditions for learning are compromised as the gaming activity becomes its own learning subject, blurring and overshadowing the learning objective. Although the results suggest that gamer mode is mainly detrimental to learning I conclude that gamer mode is a natural way students will approach games and as such, needs to be dealt with by the instructor.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. viii, 103 p.
Series
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2014:18
Keyword
Gamer mode, military education, wargaming, game-based learning
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-156886 (URN)978-91-7595-399-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-01-23, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20141209

Available from: 2014-12-09 Created: 2014-12-04 Last updated: 2015-01-20Bibliographically approved

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Frank, Anders

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