Collaborative Design in Extension- Using a Modified Game J…

experience. If these aspects are priorities, consider offering wireframes with more polished art assets.

 Creating a pitch and supporting assets: If the priority for the game jam is to create a fully realized design, designing the pitch may be an optimal product. A pitch could include a slide deck, animation, website, or printed materials that explain the goals for the game, general gameplay, art assets, and anticipated outcomes. A polished pitch could help team partners seek additional funding, communicate needs and possible solutions to stakeholders, and give the entire team a product- based goal for engaging in the full process. Particularly if your game design team doesn’t have seasoned game developers on it, going through the process of designing a pitch still prompts deeper questions and challenges of design, without the added task of production. For example, the design team of “Unpeeled” were engaged in modified game jam activity shortly after completing “Unpeeled.” For that project, the content focused on changing the mindset of players in how they were presented with information. This made the gameplay complex as it presented some larger challenges, such as creating the reward mechanisms for the game activities. That project yielded the design pitch for the game, Department of Queries, which includes sample art assets, and a design document which the client could take to possible users for feedback and used to seek funding The project also included a website, sample game trailer and a downloadable pitch deck.

Process, format, and approach

 Decide on format (in-person or online): This team used an online format to reduce costs and enable collaboration from different locations (universities and cities), providing flexibility during the jam activities. This aspect also made it more comfortable for designers, who saw the benefits in being able to take naps between extended hours of work, without driving from a remote location. Budget savings through the online format were crucial for the UConn team, since there were no travel costs and all members who wanted to participate could. Meeting in person brings an energy to the room, where communications flow easily from small group to large group. Particularly if the team members have not worked together previously, in-person meetings facilitate personal relationships through side conversations, shared meals, and ‘off time’.  Plan for flexibility in schedule: Finding the fine line between having a structured process and having enough flexibility is important. This needs to be articulated collaboratively with the team, based on the project goals and intentions and considering the team expertise and availability. As a team, define the amount of time that it should take to reach the project goal. Consider building in additional time, for follow-ups to refinements and product adjustments. One strategy to optimize time is to have content organized, initial educational objectives outlined, and learning goals prioritized for the game before the jam so that design team time is spent efficiently.  Establish some parameters: One challenge of game jams is that the nature of rapid prototyping can make time pass quickly. The energy behind implementing something quickly can make team members spend more time on a task than planned. Though this team had anticipated working an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule during the jam week, programmers were left with the last tasks that could be done, and they put in 12-hour days during the week. If this is what they would like to do to meet their own goals , that is something to consider: Sometimes putting intense effort into longer hours yields valuable learning. However, the team should agree on the goals for meetings and hours of wor k ahead of time, so that the effort doesn’t fall disproportionately on some members of the team.  Use process and outcome goals to prioritize daily work: Because of the varying nature of game jams, realize that you will need to reassess each day’s progres s to reorganize expectations and tasks for the next day. Having a prioritized list of goals and outcomes will help. For example, on this project, though the larger team wanted to be more involved in game development, the most important thing was to create a playable prototype. The content experts agreed to sit out of a few meetings so that the designers could move forward, and they were flexible in accepting what the final product could be . If the priority had been professional development and a less-finished prototype, the team could have chosen to form smaller teams to engage in game brainstorming.

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