Cultural framing extends to the areas of education, politics, social interaction, and entertainment. Therefore, to avoid issues in the cultural framing of games, it is important to design games that promote socialization and engagement without creating controversy.
Cultural Framing Has Led to a Shift in Market Focus
The past five years has demonstrated a major alteration in the commercial video game marketplace. This change has shifted mainstream games away from hardcore gaming to casual games. In the marketplace, hardcore video games are characterized by cutting edge graphics, a steeper learning curve, and higher production costs.
Also, hardcore games feature longer game play. These games are easily identified by their higher technical prerequisites and are usually likened to first person shooter games, such as BioShock or Call of Duty.
By contrast, casual games simplify their controls, display varying game genres, and are not as expensive to produce. The games can be played on a number of devices as well as online. FarmVille is an example of a casual game.
Due to the predominance of casual games in the marketplace, video games are now appreciated by both males and females. Before the emergence of casual games, video games were often played by males. Because casual games have a broader demographic appeal, they have, as noted, lower development costs, simpler controls, and educational advantages. They are also supported by a variety of genres.
The Adaptive Educational Game
Cultural framing of video games has led to the development of the adaptive educational game – a challenge in game design. Developers must not only create games that incorporate instructional features, they also must make the game play engaging.
While prioritizing learning is the goal, this conflict can lead to a poor learning experience. Adaptations to a game may produce excessive feedback, inconsistent characterization, distraction from game play, and confusion. All this can result in a game that is no longer fun to play.
Cultural framing and personalization must be done so it is not invasive to gameplay. Therefore, adaptive games must be developed as a game first. In turn, personalization and learning can be more easily included in the game. The framework can be used to simplify the development of adaptive games and permit their integration, for instance, in Learning Management Systems.
For example, the use of a storyline is often used in educational games to motivate play. Therefore adapting a storyline for education and immersion is often used in video games. While this approach improves immersion, it also increases the complexity of the content. However, a storyline is not necessarily a requirement for a game that is, by nature, educational. In some instances, pedagogical agents may be employed to supply adaptive support and feedback. This works out well when playing a puzzle-based game.
Major Hurdles in Development
One of the hurdles to overcome in cultural framing and adaptive game development is creating a game affordably – one that involves authoring both the adaptation system and educational format into a game. One solution is to retro fit a current educational game with personalized features.
When developing and adapting a game for learning, the following prerequisites are normally emphasized for the creation of the storyline:
- The integration of role-playing scenarios;
- The incorporation of feedback mechanisms and pedagogical agents;
- Using components to promote interaction with game characters; and
- Featuring a storyline that underscores exploration, suspense, and mystery.
When these types of factors are built into a game, the learner or gamer experiences better performance feedback and motivational support.
Because the video game market is now directed toward casual games, it is important to further explore the role of adaptation for learning and game play. A game that is more lightweight in nature can be more easily personalized for educational learning. For example, dialogues can be featured of varying difficulties and performance feedback can be incorporated into a game’s storyline.