Games can be applied and/or designed for many different purposes beyond entertainment. My research has included the design, development, and evaluation of games for purposes such as education, reflection, creativity, science, and more.
Abstract: When evaluating the effectiveness of gamified app experiences in cultural heritage venues in terms of informal learning outcomes, a core challenge is the complexity involved in assessing intangible measures such as visitors' appraisal of artwork. A comprehensive summary of the literature for conducting museum visitor evaluations is needed in order to understand how to measure the impact of gamification on user engagement, and the enhancement of the cultural heritage experience on learning. This paper first reviews related literature regarding the application of intrusive versus non-intrusive user evaluation methods, focusing on the REMIND protocol for conducting experiments with museum visitors. We relay our findings when applying the REMIND protocol in four gamified cultural heritage applications in the CrossCult project. Focusing on the assessment of informal learning in an application specifically designed for the visitors of the National Gallery of London, the paper concludes with recommendations, challenges, and future steps in evaluating games for cultural heritage.
in Proceedings of the Foundations of Digital Games Conference, 2020. BibTex
Abstract: Learning to read and write is a fundamental right and a necessary skill for the personal, cultural, and economic development of people and their societies. However, children of developing countries, such as sub-Saharan areas, are currently at a greater risk of illiteracy. The current penetration of mobile technologies and the internet in sub-Saharan rural areas, however, offers a unique opportunity for tackling the challenge of literacy at a large scale. Motivated by the current shortage of preschool teachers for training handwriting in a personalised manner, this paper discusses the design of Djehuty, an educational gamified environment for preschoolers. Djehuty is equipped with an artificial intelligence module which generates a style of handwriting and suggests handwriting paths to the child in a mixed-initiative manner. The paper presents the key elements of the game prototype.
in Proceedings of the Foundations of Digital Games Conference, 2020. BibTex
Abstract: This paper presents the current state of the online game Iconoscope and analyzes the data collected from almost 45 months of continuous operation. Iconoscope is a freeform creation game which aims to foster the creativity of its users through diagrammatic lateral thinking, as users are required to depict abstract concepts as icons which may be misinterpreted by other users as different abstract concepts. From users' responses collected from an online gallery of all icons drawn with Iconoscope, we collect a corpus of over 500 icons which contain annotations of visual appeal. Several machine learning algorithms are tested for their ability to predict the appeal of an icon from its visual appearance and other properties. Findings show the impact of the representation on the model's accuracy and highlight how such a predictive model of quality can be applied to evaluate new icons (human-authored or generated).
in Proceedings of the 8th International Games and Learning Alliance Conference. Springer, 2019. BibTex
Abstract: Even though games designed for educational purposes can be motivating, they usually shelter dated pedagogies, passive learning procedures, and often overlook learners' creativity. In an effort to reinforce the active participation of learners in games, this paper presents a participatory process in which students and teachers are involved in game design. The proposed process concerns redesigning existing commercial games into educational ones and includes establishing the learning goals, identifying appropriate commercial games, adapting the rules and context, crafting and playtesting the game. Using language learning as one application of this process, the paper presents how three well-known tabletop games were redesigned in a foreign language classroom with elementary and intermediate English language learners. The benefits that underlie the process concern students' active participation, boosting their problem-solving skills, and engaging them in creative learning.
in Proceedings of the 8th International Games and Learning Alliance Conference. Springer 2019. BibTex
Abstract: This paper presents a virtual gallery creation game that has been designed for the National Gallery of London, as part of the CrossCult project, with a multi-purpose goal. For visitors, the game allows users to virtually move paintings around, reflecting on their visit through gamification, while creating and curating their own virtual galleries. For National Gallery staff, the application allows them to simply visualise planned exhibitions and to accurately record the positions of paintings when they are moved or re-positioned. This paper describes the game's underlying structure, designed to serve both as an expert tool and as a game, and discusses the results obtained from initial experiments with end-users. Some preliminary conclusions can be drawn regarding the extent to which the application allows the end users to reflect on the National Gallery collection while creating and curating their own virtual galleries.
in Proceedings of the Digital Heritage International Congress (DigitalHeritage), 2018. BibTex
Abstract: This paper presents the webIcononscope tool for creative drawing, which allows users to draw simple icons composed of basic shapes and colors in order to represent abstract semantic concepts. The goal of this creative exercise is to create icons that are ambiguous enough to confuse other people attempting to guess which concept they represent. webIcononscope is available online and all creations can be browsed, rated and voted on by anyone; this democratizes the creative process and increases the motivation for creating both appealing and ambiguous icons. To complement the creativity of the human users attempting to create novel icons, several computational assistants provide suggestions which alter what the user is currently drawing based on certain criteria such as typicality and novelty. This paper reports trends in the creations of webIcononscope users, based also on feedback from an online audience.
In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Computational Intelligence in Music, Sound, Art and Design (EvoMusArt), vol. 10198, LNCS. Springer, 2017. BibTex
Abstract: This paper introduces Iconoscope, a game aiming to foster the creativity of a young target audience in formal or informal educational settings. At the core of the Iconoscope design is the creative, playful interpretation of word-concepts via the construction of visual icons. In addition to that, then game rewards ambiguity via a scoring system which favors icons that dichotomize public opinion. The game is played by a group of players, with each player attempting to guess which of the concepts provided by the system is represented by each opponent's created icon. Through the social interaction that emerges, Iconoscope prompts co-creativity within a group of players; in addition, the game offers the potential of human-machine co-creativity via computer-generated suggestions to the player's icon. Experiments with early prototypes, described in this paper, provide insight into the design process and motivate certain decisions taken for the current version of Iconoscope which, at the time of writing, is being evaluated in selected schools in Greece, Austria and the United Kingdom.
in Proceedings of the 10th Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, 2015. BibTex