Saturday, April 30, 2005

Good Puzzle Game

Another game:

Looks easy but can be frustratingly difficult.

Have fun!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Still Unclear if Leapster/FLY Will Be Open for Third-Party Developers

After hearing that Leapster used a Flash-based engine and thinking we might be able to deliver content for it, I did a little poking around to see if there were any developer programs. It then seemed like LeapFrog had a very closed developer program - in fact, only LeapFrog could develop for it. However, this comment over at watercoolergames points to a statement from LeapFrog that they plan to "expand its network of third-party publishers," presumably for the upcoming FLY pentop computer this Fall. Of course, who knows if the FLY will be Flash based, so maybe this is just a dead end for our particular products.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Why is Learning Games Development Hard?

As we continue development on our Pirate science web-based games, we continue to challenge ourselves in creating engaging gameplay with accurate content. Why is it so hard to create games that are fun and educational? Here are my thoughts:

  1. Game design is hard. Educational game developers face the same challenges other games developers do: we must offer challenge, character development, engaging story, flow. There are lots of different kinds of games, and lots of game players.
  2. We try to reach all gamers. Puzzle game developers can be content to develop a game that just appeals to puzzle gamers. Educational game developers try ot reach all potential learnes with a game that cuts across interests.
  3. Education through game often includes a variety of instructional approaches. If we are content to simply lecture our game players, game design would be easier... yet in game design we try to teach using exploration, inquiry, observation, trial and error. We also try to reach different types of learners: visual, aural, kinesthetic. There is a reason lectures are so common in university campuses across America... they are easy to prepare and execute. When we try to expand on that in games, we are faced with several challenges of varying our instruction.

What have I missed? What else makes game development harder when it must educate?

BBC Blast's Game Design Competition for Kids

The BBC is running a Kid's Game Design Competition for 13-19 year olds. The kids submit game designs based on art, film, music, writing, or dance, and the game design guru Peter Molyneux will judge the entries. The winner will have his or her game idea translated into an online game, and the runner-ups will have their ideas showcased with expert feedback.

Massively Multipirate

Since we're working on a pirate-themed educational game currently, I thought it would be good to point out the competition. Apparently, Disney is working on a MMO Pirates of the Carribbean game.

(Via BoingBoing.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Establishing a Higher Standard

It is hard to create learning games that have engaging game play. Gosh... it's hard enough just creating games with engaging game play... to add meaningful content makes it even harder.

When I did my dissertation research with kids playing games, it was very clear that kids know the difference between games for fun and games for learning. Certainly, there is unintended learning that can take place with "games for fun". However, one reason "games for learning" are so obvious to many kids is that, when having to choose between content and game play, developers prioritize content. I know I have in previous games I've developed... and not felt a bit guilty. I've felt justified in doing it because a game that is educational may not be as much fun as a game that is designed purely for entertainment... but learning content through game play is a bunch more fun that learning content through lecture, reading, and many other approaches. As an educator, my first priority is the learning... my second priority is the game play.

Like many other serious games developers, we aspire to a higher standard — one where game play doesn't have to be sacrificed for learning. We want to create the educational computer game that is so much fun, users don't mind learning the content. Of course, it depends on the content... some content lends itself more easily to game play than others.

Join me in this challenge: identify learning games that have equally engaging game play and compelling content. Help me prove that meaningful learning can take place inside engaging game play in all content areas.


Here is an interesting game mechanic for experimenting. You have to try out different combinations that will allow you to get through the puzzle.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fun Games

First Post. Woohoo! I know most of you are already familiar with Orsinal but I thought I would refresh your memories. This guy's games are beautiful and fun. Not a great deal of educational value but they are generally easy on game mechanics and easy on the eye to boot.

I also wanted to say big thanks to CC and Barbara for organizing another game night. As usual, lots of fun. My fav was Katamari. I can see myself wasting lots of time on that game. I love the simplicity.

Food Force

Food Force ScreenieThe United Nations World Food Programme has released Food Force, a 3D educational game to teach 8-13 year old children about world hunger.

From the web site:
The game itself consists of six missions. Each mission begins with a briefing by one of the Food Force characters, who explains the challenge ahead. The player then has to complete the task - in which points are awarded for fast and accurate play and good decision making. Each mission uses a different style of gameplay to appeal to children of all abilities. Each mission represents a key step of the food delivery process - from emergency response through to building long-term food security for a community. Following each mission a Food Force character returns to present an educational video showing the reality of WFP’s work in the field. This allows children to learn and understand how WFP responds to actual food emergencies: Where food originates, the nutritional importance of meals, how food is delivered and how food is used to encourage development.
Players can even compete for high scores online.

It's a whopping 200MB-ish download, but it apparently contains a lot of 3D and video. The web site includes lesson plans and other information for integrating the game into the classroom.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Delivery on Leapster?

Leapster ImageFound an interesting press release from back in 2003 by Macromedia. Apparently, the Leapster handheld console, aimed at the education market, has an embedded Flash player. It's not clear from the press release whether you could use Flash as the development platform or not, but perhaps our Flash-based games could find a home on the Leapster handheld.

Entertainment Software Association

Here's a link to the Entertainment Software Association. They do some interesting studies on who plays video games, what they play, what age/ gender they are, etc.
Probably a good thing to whip out some of these statistics if people are giving you that glazed look when you say video game and all they think is FP-shooter.



Friday, April 22, 2005

The Art of Computer Game Design

Back in 1982, Chris Crawford (Atari alum, author of Balance of Power and founder of the CGDC) wrote a book called The Art of Computer Game Design. Now, the full text is available online. Here's a sample of some of the chapter titles:
  • A Taxonomy of Computer Games
  • The Game Design Sequence
  • Design Techniques and Ideals
Also included in the book is a more recent reflection by Crawford called The Education of a Game Designer, which is basically his advice to young'un's looking to break into the game industry. Of note:
The games industry is like a big building with one entrance and a lot of exits. There are thousands of eager young kids crowded at the front entrance, pushing and shoving to get inside; only a few make it in. But for every person who gets in, another person leaves -- that's what keeps the industry in balance. And the fact that so many of the people in the business are so young demonstrates who quickly people bail out of the industry. Not many survive until their thirties.
This sort of thing might be the salvation of a game development program that doesn't try to drop people directly into the big game development houses. We can perhaps offer an alternative to the millstone.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Adobe Hunting for Flash?

More info on the Adobe / Macromedia merger. According to this article on InternetNews:
Purchasing Macromedia would help Adobe stake new ground for selling graphics software to mobile and enterprise segments, which Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen said on a conference call would help Adobe customers cope better with the explosion in digital information.

"Together, we will be able to offer customers full, integrated solutions for next-generation communication and interaction, especially on non-PC devices," Chizen said, noting that the high-tech sector is seeing evolving methods of accessing that information, including documents, images, Internet, television and new wireless and non-PC devices.
Sounds like the impetus for the acquisition is to acquire Flash-on-device tech which is starting to make inroads on palmtops and mobile phones. Not surprisingly, then, there's no mention of Director in the article.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Games Journal

The Games Journal is a monthly online newsletter about game design, development, and culture. The articles are short, and it's mostly about board game design, but there are some interesting tidbits to be found throughout the issues.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Need Game Design Source Material?

Lost Cities Card LayoutWith upwards of 16700 games in its database, BoardGameGeek is quite a reference for people looking to troll for game design ideas. The game database is searchable, and also browseable by name, by player rating, and by category (including "Educational"). But the really interesting part for game designers is that it is browseable by game mechanic, so you could quickly browse through some games with, say, modular board systems.

Many games have their game rules posted in PDF form, often in multiple languages. Photos of the game boards, cards, etc., are also included in the archive, as well as the ability to comment on and correct the information associated with each game.

Just by browsing for a few minutes, I found some really interesting game mechanics. For instance, the entry on Reiner Knizia's Lost Cities card game showed an image of really interesting card gameplay. Although I haven't perused the rules, it is immediately obvious that the clever way the cards are arranged during play makes for an adventuresome, puzzling, and progressive mechanic, perfectly suited to a game of intrepid archaeological adventure.

Myst as creative writing prompt

CNN profiles Tim Ryland's efforts in using Myst as a prompt for creative writing in his English classes. I love hearing about alternative uses of games... though it doesn't sound as though Mr. Ryland is using the game aspect of Myst as much as the immersive environment created for the game. It speaks to the power of the gaming environment in educational uses. I suspect being heralded in CNN is enough of a kudo for Mr. Ryland that my own "thumbs up" is meaningless... none-the-less... "Thumbs Up Mr. Ryland!"

Though his website doesn't seem to give details about his Myst approach (The CNN article does a nice job)... he does have a very fun talking caricature of himself on the website and an x-ray of his innards which explains his musical belches.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Las Maninas Immersive Learning Environment

Las Meninas ScreenshotBack in 1998, when CAVE technology was still young, a CAVE program called Las Maninas was created. It was an immersive learning environment designed to allow the viewer to explore the world of the famous Spanish painter Diego Velásquez from within his paintings and through the eyes of those who were influenced by his work, like Picasso and Medvedev.

Although the 3D is primitive by today's standards, and the interaction appears to be primarily simple navigation through the 3D space, the power of compelling immersive content is obvious from the QuickTime movie showing what a visitor would experience (93MB).

What immersive learning environment would you build if you had access to a CAVE?

Game to help kids Compute Safely

MSNBC has posted an article discussing MySecureCyberspace, a game using popular cartoons to help kids recognize spam and unsavory characters in chat rooms. No link is given to the game itself, which will be distributed later in the summer. The product is out of Carnegie Mellon.

Adobe to acquire Macromedia

Adobe has just put up a press release indicating that Adobe is going to acquire Macromedia. This, of course, fills me with dread that the bean-counters at Adobe might kill Director. But if they've got vision over there, they could see the huge opportunity that Shockwave3D offers them to dominate web 3D. We'll see what they do.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Game Gardens

Game GardensGame Gardens is "a place to play online multiplayer games and a place for game developers to create their own multiplayer games and host them for others to come and play." While you can just go there to play the games, the real focus appears to be encouraging hobbyist game development, specifically with regard to experimentation in multiplayer gaming experiences. As such, you will find the downloadable source code to several games, and an online forum supporting the development of games.

Crimes Against Mimesis

Roger Giner-Sorolla, a Psychology professor at NYU, wrote an article called Crimes Against Mimesis a while back about game design for Interactive Fiction (IF). Although the content is largely aimed at the Zork-like text adventure games, there are points inside that apply to the wider realm of the Adventure genre (into which many modern educational games fall). Mainly, it deals with the relationship between the game designer's intent and the game player's experience, and where breakdowns occur between them.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

What Will the Game Design Market Be?

As we discuss the possiblity of a game development major at New Mexico State University (our Creative Media degree includes film making and animation... I'm hoping game development will be included in the next phase), I feel strongly that we should not aim to prepare graduates to work at one of the major game development studios. Rather, I'd like our university to emphasize small-group development and preparation of that work force.
We are all just waiting for the game development explosion... I think the largest area for game development will not be entertainment, but education -- anyone wanting to teach anything will need a game to do it. THIS is the market we should be preparing graduates for: hospitals, non-profits, think-tanks, news organizations, educational outreach, etc.
The UN just released a game on helping kids understand world hunger... this is where educational gaming should be — another tool for increasing understanding and knowledge.

Apple's Survey of Recent Edutainment Titles

Screenshot from 'The Number Devil'Apple has posted a survey of recent edutainment titles that covers quite a few games. This goes hand in hand with their Getting Started with Kids and Learning Games pages which has a more exhaustive list of edutainment titles (at least, the ones which are available for Mac).

Friday, April 15, 2005

Game Room Design

Today, we took another step towards our Learning Games Lab -- decoration. We need to decide what colors to paint the walls, how to arrange furniture, and what kind of furniture to buy. The university's interior decorator reminded us that kids get melancholy from dark colors... it got me thinking... what kind of mood do we want our game lab to evoke?

We're striving to initially create a space that is flexible: TVs on carts that can move... furniture that is easily repositioned... inexpensive desks instead of mounted counter tops. As we confirm what types of activities we want our participants to engage in, we'll get ideas on how to arrange the space, but how do we want to decorate it? How do we balance a casual, hip and fun kid space with a research space to be taken more seriously by funders?

So, fellow gamers, what kind of space would you want? Good chair? No windows? Space to share with peers? What kind of rooms makes you feel like you are doing important work, while still conveying a sense of fun?

Thoughts on Gee's Theory Of Educational Values of Video Games

In thinking about our game lab, it might be of interest to read some of James Paul Gee’s work.
Seeing as I did a presentation on him a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would share some of it in altered format.

Gee predominantly approaches video games through cognitive science, with the idea that humans are powerful pattern seekers that they base upon a shared understanding of their social surroundings. For Gee, video games engage learners in more effective ways than traditional learning methods, such as in the classroom. In What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (Palgrave/Macmillan 2003) James Paul Gee’s main argument is therefore based on the idea that video games have intrinsic properties that allow for the development of newer, more intimate ways of learning and literacy. For Gee, video games use symbols, graphics, text and space in multiple ways, and are therefore better equipped to provide us better forms of learning and literacy in multimodal contexts.

More importantly, for Gee video games are “semiotic domains” – domains of learning in which we are given the opportunity to learn the rules of and be an insider to a specific lifeworld. Gee remarks that much of our learning based on the “problem of content” – the idea, passed down from Plato onward that knowledge is to be possessed first before any action can be undertaken, and the ensuing philosophical tradition of foundationalism which has sought to deny praxis over foundations of knowledge. (Harry already mentioned this in his post)

For Gee, the idea of content is important because it is the most leveled criticism at video game – that they do not teach us “content”. Gee says this is the wrong way of looking at literacy and learning if we are asking people to operate in the world as social actors. Gee says that video games are not so much concerned with teaching us content, but teaching us flexible strategies to read into social practices and engage with them as actors. For Gee video games are important, because they allows us to inhabit and interact with the rules of a semiotic domain as an insider. This decreases our dependency on “specialist” knowledge that denies us access to social power and instead makes us active producers within such semiotic domains..

According to Gee's theory, video games as semiotic domains encourage both “active learning” and “critical learning”, which he distinguishes as…
Active Learning – the ability to engage in a social practice/semiotic domain and learn from it.
Critical Learning – the ability to develop critical ways of thinking about the social practice/semiotic domain

In turn, Gee mentions three characteristic elements of semiotic domains in general that encourage “active learning”:

1-Experience – we experience the world in new ways and learn to operate in new ways
2-Affiliation – we gain a sense of affiliation with groups of people within a semiotic domain (i.e. we identify and joining up with the social practices of a semiotic domain)
3-Preparation – we are prepared to learn about the structures and rules of this and other semiotic domains, and apply the knowledge in future endeavors in flexible ways.

For “critical learning”, we need to develop a metalevel knowledge that encourages us to not merely instantiate the semiotic domain and its rules, but to innovate and produce new meanings and practices. This means that we need to develop an awareness of semiotic domains on an external – meaning the social practices associated with a specific domain of knowledge and internal level – the particular content and meanings attributed to a specific domain of knowledge – which influence each other.

Throughout his book, Gee develops the argument of how video games encourage us to be active producers versus passive consumers. Because video games demand our participation, they also encourage us to become a “producer” of their meanings – we have to make sense of the game before we can play it. This quality of a video game, in turn, will make us more critical consumers – we can make sense of the “social practices” of the game and become active producers as insiders/players.

Though Gee sees this as a great benefit, he wants to strike a balance between situated meaning and critical distance: “One key question for deep learning and good education, then, is how to get producer-like learning and knowledge, but in a reflective and critical way” (Gee, 2003, p.16). Because semiotic domains encourage us to inhabit them and reenact them, we are at risk of unquestioningly reifying their practices. Gee’s point is that video games allow us more latitude in interacting with social structures and practices.

In thinking about these issues, it’s good to connect this to the “how” of the work that we will be doing with the Learning Games Initiative. Can we encourage kids to engage with a video game, but recognize the social dialogues that have structured/produced it? Can we make them produce their own narratives of learning, social meaning making, all the while asking for critical distance? Can we encourage insider knowledge and identification while incorporating learning awareness? Can we promote literacy practices that prepare them well to enter a most likely multimediated and multimodal workplace? Moreover, can we bridge the gap between cyber-“insiders” and cyber “outsiders” without alienating the latter?

I believe part of the kids’ practices will need to be reflective, so in evaluating games we will need to ask them to write narratives about how they experience the game, “who” they are when they play the game, what connections they make between the gameworld and what they are doing in the “outside” world, as well as write on these experiences in a way that engages them to look beyond “just learning the rules” of the game. In a sense, we need to move them away from habituated thought and “twitch-based” gaming and towards conscientious engagement and questioning of game rules. Getting kids to write blogs will be a good idea, but also, giving them the opportunity to adapt a familiar story into a video game will allow them to construct and see the various elements of a video game as connected to elements of their social surroundings: agents/ actors, scene, environments, metanarratives etc. Hopefully we’ll have enough ways of doing so with the new lab..

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Cobalt Flux Dance Pads

Cobalt Flux dance mat
In designing our gamelab, we had talked about getting a dance controller so we could investigate the Dance Dance Revolution genre of games. (Because we do a lot of content on nutrition and health.) Of course, the crappy $9 plastic mats wouldn't last long against a barrage of children's feet, so instead, we might consider picking up a dance platform from Cobalt Flux. These babies are $300 each, made out of metal and polycarbonate plastic, able to withstand up to 600 lbs, and come with a six month guarantee. According to the Dance Mat FAQ, this is the "best available pad yet".

Toys vs. Games

The creator of the classic hit "SimCity," Will Wright, said that SimCity wasn't a game, but a toy, pointing out that it was merely a simulation with no overt goals impressed against the player. Indeed, the enjoyment of the game comes from setting and pursuing goals for yourself while playing the game, such as "How big a city can I make?" or "How small a city can I make with the biggest population?" or "How miserable can I make life for my hapless peons citizenry?"

Considering how compelling the gameplay (or is it toyplay?) is in SimCity, and how stealthily educational it is, the question arises whether, if you're looking to create computer applications that lend themselves to a constructivist model for learning, it is better to create toys than games. Can you educate better if you don't try to teach, but only provide an environment for learning?

At first blush, it looks like it might be a good idea. Not only do you allow the students to formulate their own goals for learning, but it also leaves the play open-ended so that the teacher can intervene and guide the learning, rather than having it rigidly defined by the author, who has no chance to observe or interact with the learner beyond the code and media assets of the game. And considering the freedom the player must have to engage in constructivist learning, trying to produce a scripted game for that context becomes expensive very quickly (or insufficient if you don't have the development funds). Simulations, on the other hand, require no script - behavior is emergent, allowing the game developer to focus on the game world and the player's interface into it.

Oregon Trail Online

For anyone who doubts that even the most rudimentary of educational games can have a profound impact on someone, be sure to check out Oregon Trail Online, which is a fan game recalling the oddly entertaining 1988 educational game "Oregon Trail." The game only incorporates the one violent part of the game (namely, blasting the hapless wildlife) and some small related parts (trading animal carcasses for more supplies, namely, more bullets to blast hapless wildlife with), but obviously, the game stayed with the authors for the intervening 17 years. It's just too bad they didn't try to recreate the best part.

Documenting the Design Process

I imagine several 'models' exist of the process of game design... certainly several exist in instructional design. However, I prefer to think of the process as a dynamic one... changing with each design team. While I'm not naive enough to believe that the process we use on our current game design will be the same one we use next time -- at least I'm hoping it won't be -- reflection will help me remember when inspiration struck, and which part of the processes bear repeating.

When we've finished a game, and we look back over the development cycle, it's impossible for me to remember how we made it through the process. The strange gift of retrospect makes it seem that the way the game ended up was exactly as we had planned it in the first place. Of course, this is not the case.

In viewing post-mortems other game developers write, I'm always a little surprised at how they remember what they were doing, how they thought of that idea, or why something didn't work. How do other game developers document their process? Are they somehow immune to the distorted memory I face?

I've challenged myself through this blog to document the process for a new pirate/science game we are working on. What design did we start with ... why? What tested well? What ideas did members of the focus group contribute? How did ideas evolve? I'm a little late... we're already a year in to the pirates game (more on that later!), but perhaps my colleagues will contribute to a collective blogging memory for all our current projects here. In reflecting on our ideas and processes, perhaps we'll find inspiration... not only for ideas to use in the game, but in the processes that lead to getting good ideas in the first place.

Contructivist or not?

Here is a link to an game that came out of a constructivist learning (not teaching) setting in a kinder classroom. If you're familiar with the "centers" approach in the classroom - you'll recognize that this is a piece of that approach and one of four modules for self directed knowledge making when it comes to shapes.

IMHO - why bother doing games if its a reiteration of an objectivist tradition that has driven teaching (not learning) since Plato?

(anecdotally, the kids used the interface without direction, not the case for the teachers shown the module)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Dance your butt off

Gamasutra Industry News is reporting that West Virginia is dropping $60K to put about 100 Dance Dance Revolution video game consoles in public schools and kids' homes. The catch? The kids are required to play, and must wear a pedometer. The idea is to study whether kinetic games like DDR can help prevent obesity if they are introduced at an early age.

Engaging Learning v. Gussied Up Instruction

I've wrestled with two approaches to the design of learning games. The first — and certainly the more engaging of the two approaches — is gameplay through which players learn by problem solving, critical thinking or behavioral practice (The Zoombinis games are perfect models of this). The second approach — and the one that is easier to develop — is gussied up learning where information may be presented in a fun way but is still 'given' to a game player, rather than learned on their own.

The first approach is more constructivist in nature: learners arrive at their own conclusions through research, experimentation or practice. I am biased towards this type of learning — I've always trusted knowledge I've earned myself more than facts presented to me.

In our Food Detectives Games we followed the second approach, presenting simple facts and information in an entertaining way. My dissertation research told me this approach to food safety education was effective: learners demonstrated in a pre/post knowledge assessment that they learned the basic food safety concepts taught. I was unable to measure behavioral change. I mean, sure... kids said they learned to wash their hands for 20 seconds... but did they really do it in the bathroom when no one was watching? In qualitative interviews, subjects conveyed they would rather learn this content through gameplay than lecture or reading. Is that enough?

  • Is one approach better than another?
  • Is the accolade "Learning content through gameplay is better than reading about it" really an argument for learning games development?
  • Is it too demanding a standard that all game play integrate self-guided discovery?
  • What makes a learning game successful... knowledge gain or time on topic?

My hope with the Food Detectives games is that kids spend more time playing the games than they would reading or listening to a class lecture on the content, thus they have more time with the content. I want them to internalize the information and make it their own (and we're working on another game to that end), but I'm not sure simply gussying up information is a failure, or a weak use of learning games. As game designers, what should we aspire too?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I Have No Words And I Must Design

Quite a while ago, Greg Costikyan pointed out the need for a taxonomy and rigorous language to define and explore games and game development. His article, I Have No Words & I Must Design, is a great discussion of some of the topics and considerations that game designers need to come to grips with if they wish to further their art.

NMSU Learning Games Initiative

Our Learning Games Initiative at New Mexico State University has begun. While we've been involved in interactive game development for some time, this is my attempt to bring people from other academic fields into that process. My goals for the initiative are simple: enable discussion, practice, development and research on learning through game play. I'm thrilled that we have interest in the initiative from several disciplines.

The Learning Games Initiative includes:
• Design and production of games and simulations in all content areas.
• Research and evaluation of effectiveness on learning and achievement through games and simulations
• Collaborative work with informal educator
• Instruction and teacher workshops in utilizing games and simulations for learning in the classroom
• The Learning Games Lab, an exploratory environment where game players engage in a wide variety of games — in educational and other genres — reviewing games for computer, video consoles and portable devices. The lab includes:
- Research space for assessing, evaluating and understanding game play mechanics and the potential for education
- Focus group opportunities for evaluating newly designed games, interfaces and prototypes.
- Library of games for evaluating trends and understanding new formats.
- Development environment for students to learn through programming and design of games, exposure to potential careers, and the math, science and art of game design.

This summer, we'll draft youth to serve as "Game Play Interns". We'll work with these mid-school kids to develop evaluation protocols for the initiative, designing processes to use as we bring the lab up to a full-time activity. We're continuing work on several games for this age group, and look forward to using them as consultants on the game design. I believe this will be a great two-month trial period for designing a Learning Game Lab that informs game developers as they develop games, and assist youth in their critical thinking and assessment skills. I'll be giving this game lab a lot of attention in future posts as we ponder the best approach.