I survived my first game jam weekend!

Have you ever taken part in a game jam weekend? I have! This past weekend marked the inaugural Game Jam for Learning, organised by Game designer/ Learning designer Richard Durham and hosted at the University of Auckland.


Build a Wall’o’Games!

The Wall O’ Games was created after Dan Milward (Gamefroot CEO) and I were trying to find a quick and engaging way to generate ideas by any group. After some investigation, we found nothing that was both suitable and entertaining so we invented our own resource – The Wall O’ Games

We often kick off our “fast-track to game design” workshops by getting groups to create their own Wall’o’Games.


Learning how to use Matrix Games

“If we have to use force to crush the student protestors, we will!”

I heard words like this coming out of my mouth (with disturbing conviction!)  at our most recent Meetup.

To explain, I was role-playing the actions of an ambitious and ruthless young police chief during an unfolding conflict in a fictional former Russian state, KAZHDYY GOROD. A charismatic protest leader had just convinced school students in the working-class neighbourhood to abandon school to join the workers’ protest movement. As police chief, I had just ordered my police to form a barricade to contain these feckless young protestors.  We weren’t going to use aggressive force, at least not if we didn’t have to, but if these rabble rousers decided to try anything, they would soon regret their actions…

The Police Chief and an action template

Thankfully, the purpose of the meetup was not to crush student protestors, but to learn about Matrix Games – of which KAZHDYY GOROD (designed by Tom Mouat) is an example.


Tabletop and card games in the classroom

The theme for our first meetup for 2018 was “tabletop and card games in the classroom”. Our mission was to share (and play!) a whole range of different games, and talk about how we could play and hack these in the classroom.

A few of us brought some games to show and tell, but the true hero of the event was experienced game-using teacher Chris, who brought two bags chock full of games that we were itching to grab and play.

All the games we had in the room!

A pile of games waiting to be played

We had a wonderful mix of enthusiatic meet-uppers. This included primary, intermediate and secondary teachers, some game designers, a researcher, someone who works in cyber securities, and a visitor from the San Francisco Bay Area who has worked a bit in educational policy and tech sector reporting. We also had one other crucial ingredient: coffee! (Thanks to Jessie and Hīnātore|Learning Lab at Te Papa for hosting us in such a wonderful space).


“What’s in a game?”: The first Gameful Praxis card deck

Almost a year ago the Gameful Praxis crew created our first prototype card deck called “What’s in a game?”. We’ve been using this deck in lots of our game design workshops, and we are happy to share it. Here’s the link to the downloadable pdf if you want to print out your own set!

Here’s how they look printed in colour, cut up, and laminated. (Mmm… laminated….)

Here are some notes on what you can do with them. These are just a few suggestions to get you started and you may find lots of other creative ways to use them to stimulate thinking, discussion, and design relating to games.

Our dream is for these cards to evolve and grow through use, experimentation, and iteration, which is why gave them a Creative Commons license. (Who knows – we may even add further expansion packs to the original deck…watch this space!)


NZCER Games for Learning Conference Aug 31-1st Sept

Come hang with the Gameful Praxis OG’s at the NZCER Games for Learning conference, at Te Papa, 31 August-1st September!

There will be some fabulous featured talks and breakout sessions.

We hope to see you there!

Gameful Praxis crosses the ditch to Melbourne: Part 2

My previous post discussed some of my personal highlights from the gaming mega-event PAX Australia.  In this post, I’ll segue from PAX to the one-day Education in Games Summit that rounded off Melbourne International Games Week.


As it turned out, education was the bridge between these two events.  One of the final panel sessions at PAX was “Digital Games in the Classroom”, featuring a few faces that would pop up again the next day at the Education in Games Summit. These included Professor Kurt Squire, two young student game developers Anvitha Vijay and Benjamin Sampson, and moderator Steffen P Walz, alongside Christine Evely (ACMI), Nick Hagger (Robot Circus), Kate Cooper (Clifton Hill Primary School) and Paula Christopherson, a Curriculum Manager at the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority.

I didn’t take many notes during this session, but there was lots of vigorous nodding, and prodding Dan at key moments to say “Look! They’re saying exactly what we’ve been talking about!”.


Gameful Praxis crosses the ditch to Melbourne: Part 1

Earlier this month a small handful of us crossed the ditch to Melbourne to check out PAX Australia and the Education in Games Summit. I learned about the Summit via a Facebook post by Bron Stuckey (our friend and recent Gameful Praxis guest speaker). I was keen to attend, as were fellow Wellington Gameful Praxies* Dan Milward and Marianne Malmstrom. So, we made plans to meet up with Bron on her side of the big ditch commonly known as the Tasman Sea, for a long weekend of game-related learning and fun.

If you’re not in the games industry, you may not know that Games are kind of a big deal in Melbourne. In fact, there is an entire 10-day “week” devoted to it: Melbourne International Games Week (MIGW), billed as “Asia Pacific’s largest digital games platform for entertainment, serious games and gamification”. MIGW includes around a dozen different events, ranging from games industry conferences, to gamer-focussed exhibitions, gaming and coding workshops, and VR showcases, attracting over 60,000 people across the week.


Meetup 1

Our first meetup! Hazel Bradshaw from the new Te Papa Learning Lab gave us an update and our guest speaker Bron Stuckey got us thinking about games and game design. Dan and Dave from Gamefroot took over in the afternoon to show the potential of this platform for students to design their own games.

Podcast Review: Games are good for you!

Note to Self: The Secret to Making Video Games Good for you
Produced by WYNC studios

Quite often gaming is looked at in a negative way so it is refreshing to hear research that frames gaming in a more positive way.  This particular episode is an interview with Jane McGonigal a researcher at the Institute for the future. Yes this is a real place and yes I want to go there!