Collaborative Problem Solving, Educational Games, Problem Solving, Research

Dissertation Snippets: Open-ended or Structured Games better for Promoting Collaboration?

 As I was going through my data for my dissertation, I came to realize that it was easier to engage players in collaboration when the game was more structured. More structured games meant more structured problems. Players had to complete a task by going through a specific set of predefined steps. Therefore, those predefined steps pushed players to collaborate and work as a team. However, open ended games also has some predefined steps to complete a task, but they are more loosely defined because of the nature of the game environment. For example, Portal vs. Borderlands can provide a great example of these differences. In Portal the players get into a testing chamber and go through a step by step procedure to open up the door to proceed to the next chamber. In Borderlands, on the other hand, players are dropped in a massive game world and given missions to complete. Where they can go is not restricted, who they interact is not restricted, how they share resources is not restricted, or even more importantly who is going to do all the work is not restricted. Quite honestly one person can just wait in one location until the the partner completes the mission by himself/herself. So how this kind of games will promote and sometimes push people to collaborate is slightly problematic. Especially, when two players are pretty experienced. I realized that the more experienced a player is less team player they are – just based on my research results (I am not trying to generalize to everyone). And in more structured games, the experienced players did not have a choice but to collaborate since the step-by-step procedures forced them to do so, but in an open ended game like borderlands, the experienced players acted more individualistic and rarely any conversations were recorded between team mates. So what does this mean for the gaming world? Especially for educational gaming field? Structured problem tasks are widely used in education too, but there is a shift towards using more ill-defined that requires open-ended environments to present the problem. If we are talking about educational games where collaboration is an essential part of the learning experience, I say the structured problem tasks that can promote collaboration is better. But if the focus is not collaboration then probably open-ended environments can allow players to be more creative in their problem solving but it might be in a more individualistic way.


2012 Global Game Jam

Syracuse University is a host site for 2012 Global Game Jam, starting this Friday. If you want to make a game—video, mobile, board, whatever—join this 48-hour event. You don’t even have to be an SU student!

Worldwide at different locations, Global Game Jam is happening Jan. 27-29. This is the second year in a row that SU will be a Global Game Jam site. The event is presented by the iSchool, School of Education and The College of Arts and Sciences. Global Game Jam at SU will take place at Huntington Hall.

The event will start in the afternoon at 3 p.m. on Friday when the theme for the games will be announced.  Teams will develop games over Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday morning. Participants will contribute games to the Global Game Jam project to live alongside all of the other games made over the weekend from other venues around the world. Participants come back together on Sunday afternoon and demonstrate what folks have made. The specific hours of the Global Game Jam at SU are: Friday 3 p.m.-11:30 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.; and Sunday 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Registration fee is $10; please use the Paypal link on to pay. To get on the participant list, you must register before the event. At-the-door registration will not be available.

To complete your registration, visit the registration form at

For full information, visit .

Gaming, Gaming attributes, Research

Looking for Research Participants

Barnstar for WikiProject Video Games.

Image via Wikipedia

Time to collect data for my dissertation has come. I need volunteers to participate in my dissertation study on the relationship between the design of digital games and collaborative learning.


  • Anyone over the age of 18 with an interest in playing video games.
  • Participants should be able to take part in approximately 2 hours of co-op video game-play session at 3 different times (total of 6 hours).

No compensation is offered to participate in this study.

If you are interested  or if you know anyone who may be interested to participate, please reply to this post. Feel free to share this with all your friends 🙂

Opinion, Personal, Research

Soon Collecting DATA..Yaaaayyyy :)

I passed my dissertation proposal a month ago and it took me a while to get my mind back on it. Writing an expedited IRB is proved to be a lot harder than I expected really. But I am almost there. Today I finished up my first draft of my IRB and I thought I should celebrate it by posting something on my blog 🙂 I am hoping that I can start collecting some data by next month. All the boring part of doing research will be left behind once I get my IRB review I think. Or maybe I am too naive to think that way.. We will see soon enough…