Oh Oh I am sooo close to being able to answer your questions directly, but I will have to waffle around the edges for a bit with the hope of laying out the landscape as I see it and where I see your interests in relation to the others.
Educators are looking for ways to use games to teach. These "serious games", educational games, are rapidly growing beyond teaching young children their ABC's and 123's. For example this study
looks at games to teach civil engineering. I suggest taking a look at http://www.fas.org/gamesummit
. It is a report on the findings of a summit on educational games by the Federation of American Scientists.
So one group is looking to utilize good educational groups to teach, and another group is looking at how to produce these good games to give to educators to use. You have researchers looking at why a successful educational game is successful.
Then there is the whole idea of having in-game tutoring and in-game coaching. I've learned a lot about that topic by working with Chad Lane
. Chad is also working on a post-game interactive tutor/coach. In the military we have this thing called an After Action Review (AAR). It is the idea of going over what just happened, the good and the bad, to learn all the available lessons and do better next time. In one instance Chad is working to have the characters that appeared in the game as A.I.'s be available for a Q&A session after the game. For example the student could ask what the character was thinking at some point in the game. Or ask why a character did what it did in the game. Very interesting to me.
And then there is a group, of which I consider myself a part of, that advocates that games can serve as excellent tools of instruction if the instructor is properly trained on their use and the use of the game meets the instructor's learning objective. For example, I might be able to use lemonade stand to teach logistics to army officers, if my learning objective is to show how supply and demand interact.
So I've dabbled with researchers who research if and why games are effective teaching tools. And I have dabbled with developers researching how to make good games. But I don't think I have dabbled with researchers using games as a research tool that weren't researching games. So, you may be on to something here.
But there must be others that are interested in using games as a means of eliciting behavior that they wish to research. There is probably a few needles in a Google haystack if you use the keywords SCORM
, which is an emerging set of technologies and standards that could be adapted to your desired use, Automated AAR (like this
) which track not just the final score, but everything from start to finish, and Chad's idea of a reflective tutor, that could interact with the research subject (person) in a manner almost 180 degrees opposite of how Chad would use it, so you could determine why the person made the choices they did.
Games should be short and with a clear objective.
I completely agree. Combine Terminal Learning Objectives with Einstein's "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." Design the game to get at what you want to examine and not waste resources on extraneous details and development. Any competent developer in the serious game business should be able to adapt current best practices and current R&D into "educational games" to develop a "research game".
I'm interested enough, that if my schedule permits, I may be interested in exploring this further with you from the developer's point of view.