Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World

By Yasmin Kafai; Mitchel Resnick | Go to book overview
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unappealing in the games and stories they experience through other media. Making a game and its rules allowed the game designers to be in charge and to determine the player's place and role in the world with all the consequences.


CONCLUSIONS

One of the conclusions to be drawn from these results is that most commercially available video games do not reflect the interests and tastes of half the game- playing population, namely girls. Many girls are not attracted to the "kill features" that dominate most video game interactions. Instead, they prefer less violent features to guide the game-play process as well as different kinds of game characters and worlds. One solution is for manufacturers to create video games that address these issues. Furthermore, one could suggest employing female game designers, because, in the past, this profession has been dominated by men.

A different solution is found in the activity of game making and suggests further constructive activities. The energy and motivation that the children dedicated to the task of game-making led me to believe that this is a promising avenue to pursue. In the following sections I briefly outline three different routes that children's game-making and game-playing can take into the future: tool kits for game construction, physical game construction with computational elements, and collaborative game construction. All of these approaches emphasize game- making and games to play.


Tool Kits for Video Game Construction

There have been some early attempts in the aforementioned direction, such as the Pinball Construction Set ( Greenfield, 1984), which provides users with a blank board and all the necessary tools and parts to install flippers, backgrounds, and controllers for their own pinball game. The user can design innumerable versions of pinball games. Eventually, the user can play her or his own game alone or with others.3 The present study suggests developing an environment that provides children with a video-game-design tool kit. With this, children could create their own characters, design their own environments or worlds, and determine the rules of their game. Children could be provided with primitives in terms of rules and actions, and could then adapt the parameters according to the game's needs and their desires. A first example of such a game construction tool kit is LiveWorld ( Travers, 1994), in which the player can create so-called animate systems. The sharing of ideas and strategies that is already an essential part of the existing

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3
One of the drawbacks of designing pinball games is that certain feelings and sensations from the mechanical world (such as the tilting of the machine) cannot be replicated in the computational environment. A further limitation is that the designer must work with a given set of parts.

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