Understanding the Underlying Patterns: Teaching Scientific Thinking through Building Games

By Magy Seif El-Nasr and Tony Maygoli.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Science, as a method of deconstructing or formulating models of existing natural or human-constructed systems, is a very important perspective that is rarely used in game design education. Understanding the underlying patterns of a given system is very important, as it gives learners the skills and knowledge that can facilitate problem solving, planning, and critical thinking. In the past few years, we developed a series of courses on game design that used scientific theories to enable learners to efficiently grasp the ideas behind game design. The scientific theories behind game design used within these courses are based on several years of research investigating user’s behavior. These consist of interdisciplinary theories including visual perception, architectural design, behavioral psychology, and affective design. Through applied sessions where students build games based on these scientific principles, students internalize and comprehend the underlying game systems, and the nature of engagement and human behavior. In this paper, we will discuss these underlying scientific theories and outline results of using this method within courses at the undergraduate as well as middle/high school levels.

Keywords: Scientific Thinking, Game Design, Building Games, Patterns, Game Education

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.17-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 581.394KB).

Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr

Assistant Professor, School of Interactive Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser Univeristy, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Dr. Seif El-Nasr is an assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University, where she directs the Engage Me In Interactive Experiences (EMIIE) Lab. She earned her Ph.D. degree from Northwestern University in Computer Science and her master's degree in Computer Science from Texas A&M University. Dr. Seif El-Nasr received several grants totaling over $2 Million to support her research. She published over 60 international peer reviewed articles on her work. In addition, her work received several awards and recognition within the games and interactive narrative communities, including Best Paper Award and several notable citations in industry books and magazines. She also received Leadership Excellence Award and Research Excellence Award from Texas A&M University. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Game Development and ACM Computers in Entertainment; she has chaired and organized several workshops including, American Association of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Interaction Entertainment. Her research work includes designing and developing tools that enhance the engagement of interactive 3D environments. She has collaborated and has on-going relationships with several game companies, including Electronic Arts, Bardel Entertainment, and RedHill Studios. http://www.sfu.ca/~magy.

Dr. Tony Maygoli

Founder, New Media Research and Education, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Dr. Maygoli has a PhD and M.A. in Psychology from University of Tehran, Iran. He is the founder of his own private company that promotes self development through training and holistic education approaches. He is trained and has over twenty years of experience in several fields including martial arts, music theory and composition, psychology, mathematics, and creative writing. He has also trained and shaped many youth through intensive private lessons in all these fields. He has published over 30 books in Iran (in Persian language) on several subjects, including music, poetry, psychology and finance.