A Participatory Design Workshop at the First Annual CHI Play Conference

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The Participatory Design Workshop at CHI Play

Posted by PhD student Daniel Perry

In late October I attended the first annual conference on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI Play 2014) in Toronto. The conference brought together some 150 researchers, academics, and game designers across numerous areas of serious game research and HCI. Sessions at the conference covered a variety of topic areas, including collaboration and communication in serious games, games for health, gamification and education, and game analytics. Research I conducted on co-design with high school youth for the bioinformatics educational game MAX5 was one of several accepted abstracts in a workshop titled Participatory Design for Serious Game Design.

The Participatory Design for Serious Game Design workshop marked one of the highlights of the conference for me, as it brought together participants from all over the world (Malta, Belgium, Germany, Taiwan, Canada, and the U.S to name just a few) to explore the philosophical and methodological challenges of integrating participatory design and serious games. Participatory design (PD) has its roots in Scandinavia some forty years ago as way to empower workers and involve them more directly in the software design process. PD techniques have been adapted and used in a variety of fields and contexts with communities ranging from toddlers to the elderly. While PD often works hand-in-hand with user-centered design approaches, PD’s focus on directly integrating participant design concepts takes a more democratic stance on the design process. In the workshop, we worked in small groups mapping the field of participatory design as we saw it in our own research on games. Topics that emerged included: the use of PD to design games, as well as the use of games as a methodological way to design other types of software systems; the challenge of conveying domain knowledge to participants for learning games (in my own research, this involved getting high school youth up-to-speed with biology and computer science topics in our game); and deciding what design outcomes should be integrated into the final game. While there were no easy answers that came out of the workshop, the importance of transparency in design, as well as providing a tangible sense of participant contribution came up as important issues to address. It was exciting to feel that in many ways we were putting forth a new global agenda for the future of PD in serious games research.

Game Design Workshop for STARS Engineering Program

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Students brainstorm game concepts in the STARS Game Design Workshop.

Students brainstorm game concepts in the STARS Game Design Workshop.

HCDE PhD student and SCCL member Daniel Perry led an afternoon workshop titled “Game Design for Science Learning” for students as part of the first STARS engineering program in mid-September. The STARS program provides a specialized first-year engineering-focused curriculum for highly motivated Pell-Grant-eligible students. The workshop introduced students to the science learning game MAX5, and provided techniques for designing, building, and evaluating their own science-themed video games. Human centered game design techniques were discussed and applied in smaller groups, and rapid prototyping methods were used by students for their own designs.


Concurrency and Computation Journal Article on Game Design Published

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UW Human Centered Design & Engineering PhD students Daniel Perry and John Robinson, and Professor Cecilia Aragon, are co-authors on a recently published article in the September issue of the Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience journal. The article, Game Design for Bioinformatics and Cyberinfrastructure Learning: A Parallel Computing Case Study, reports on data collected during a year-long human-centered game design process, in which design ideas generated by high school students were bridged with bioinformatics and parallel computing learning concepts. They provided a human-centered game design methodology, as well as a case study, in which this methodology is applied to the design of parallel computing-focused mini-games. Co-authors of the paper also include Stephanie Cruz, University of Washington Center for Workforce Development; Jeanne Ting Chowning, University of Washington’s Institute for Science and Math Education; and Mette Peters, Sage Bionetworks.

News Article on GenomeWeb Features MAX5 Game

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GenomeWeb, a news outlet for scientists and biology technology professionals recently wrote an article titled “Games Proving Useful as Tools for Teaching Bioinformatics Concepts, Engaging Broad Communities” featuring the game MAX5 and our research work with Seattle area high school youth.

The full article, written by GenomeWeb staff member Uduak Grace Thomas can be found at: https://www.genomeweb.com/informatics/games-proving-useful-tools-teaching-bioinformatics-concepts-engaging-broad-commu

Daniel Perry Receives UW Presidential Dissertation Fellowship for Science Game Research

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UW Human Centered Design & Engineering PhD student  Daniel Perry has been awarded a UW Graduate School Presidential Dissertation Fellowship for the 2014-15 academic year. The Graduate School Presidential Dissertation award was established with support of the University President and assists PhD candidates in the final stages of completing their dissertations. He is the first HCDE student to receive the award.

Perry’s dissertation examines how game-based learning experiences vary based on the specific perceptual, affective, and computational capacities of each learner. His research builds upon an NSF-funded project led by HCDE Professor Cecilia Aragon. In this research, Perry organized co-design sessions with youth to develop the game MAX5, a computer game where players use bioinformatics tools to stop a fictional lethal influenza outbreak. He hopes that his research will be of use to other game designers and educators who want to broaden participation to reach diverse types of learners. Perry is advised by Dr. Cecilia Aragon.

Megan Torkildson and Daniel Perry Feature Bioinformatics Game at UW’s Computing Open House

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PhD student Daniel Perry looks on as students play the game MAX5 at the Computing Open House.

UW students Megan Torkildson (undergraduate student) and Daniel Perry (PhD student) represented the HCDE Department at UW’s Computing Open House this past Saturday, an event that drew over 1,000 middle and high school students and their families to explore and learn about computing activities on campus.  Torkildson and  Perry were among the HCDE volunteers at a table that featured an interactive iPad activity as well as the bioinformatics game, MAX5, developed by Perry and members of  the Games for Good Research Group.  “Many of the students we spoke with were pretty excited about the game, especially the ones interested in computing as well as film production, art, or game animation. They didn’t know a department like ours existed where they could easily combine these interests” remarked Perry.  The annual event was sponsored by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, and featured dozens of projects in computing related fields.

Daniel Perry Receives Two Best Paper Awards at XSEDE 2013

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Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) PhD student Daniel Perry has received two best paper awards at the Extreme Science and Engineering (XSEDE) 2013 Conference in San Diego. Perry received Best Student Paper and Best Training, Education, & Outreach Paper Awards for the paper, “Human Centered Game Design for Bioinformatics and Cyberinfrastructure Learning,” which he presented at XSEDE on July 24.

The paper was co-authored by Perry, HCDE Professor and Perry’s advisor Cecilia Aragon, Stephanie Cruz (College of Engineering Research Assistant and PhD student in Medical Anthropology), Mette Peters (Sage Bionetworks), and Jeanne Chowning (Northwest Association for Biomedical Research). It provides a human centered game design methodology for science educators and science game designers, as well as design implications for integrating collaborative learning experiences into the usage of large-scale shared computing resources and services. In the talk, Perry detailed their ongoing design process with high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, scientists, and educators in the development of the bioinformatics and cyberinfrastructure learning game Max5.

The annual XSEDE conference highlights the science, education, outreach, software, and technology used by the National Science Foundation funded XSEDE network of supercomputers and related tools and services.

Designing for a Parallel Computing Game

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We’ve been developing a mini-game for the computer scientist role that allows players to learn some of the basic principles of multi-threaded and parallel programming. The goal of the game is to process data using the fewest cycles (and time) by placing semaphores onto the grid game board to restrict or allow access to various processing resources.

More Ways to Explore the MAX5 World

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Many of our high school student players expressed an interest in having differing mechanics to explore the MAX5 scenes and collect genetic samples.  We hear you! Beyond the current scene that flies you over the city in a hover craft, we’re adding a level where you can actually steer, explore, and fly freely yourself as you collect data.