What Computing Students Can Learnby Developing Their Own Serious Games

Smith, Matt (2011) What Computing Students Can Learnby Developing Their Own Serious Games. In: Serious Games and Edutainment Applications. Springer London, pp. 447-480. ISBN 978-1-4471-2160-2, 978-1-4471-2161-9


Most serious games are developed for student use by professional programmers and educational researchers. However, when the target student population are computing science students, then further exploitation of serious games to support learning can be gained through asking the students to develop the serious games themselves. Much work has been undertaken in recent years in the fields of problem-based and other enquiry-based approaches to structure and drive more independent student learning. Generally such approaches involve organising students into teams, and requiring the student teams to solve ‘problems’ over a period of time. Students gain many important ‘soft skills’ such as communication, working with others, and time management. Enquiry-Based Learning (EBL) drives student learning by having them design and develop solutions to complex, non-trivial, real-world problems, that require them to bring together many different aspects of their chosen domain of learning, to solve a task. In recent years such EBL approaches have begun to be used in technical subjects such as engineering and computing science. A computer game is a very appealing deliverable to ask a team of computing students to develop, since they already have a clear idea of what the software system does, and the importance of the user interface. This chapter first reviews several fields of educational and computing research, before describing several case studies in which computing undergraduates were asked (or volunteered) to develop serious games as part of their studies. The chapter aims to form an argument for the benefits to computing students of becoming serious games developers, and attempts to frame that argument with reference to existing research and informal analysis of the case studies described.

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