Friday, April 06, 2007

Cross country for cross-media (11)

At CMID07 there were some four presentations about games. I will only treat one, the one about the game developed for the Swedish Parliament, the Riksdag, presented by Karin Danielsson Department of Informatics of Umea University in the North of Sweden. Besides its official duties maintaining laws, taxes and budget, this government body has taken on the task to inform people about the way democracy and the parliament works. Swedish schools visit the parliament and can learn about the parliament in books, comics, slideshows as well as other information materials, prepared by the parliament, such as the website. Also the sessions of the Riksdag are broadcasted now and again on television. There is now a range of media about the parliament available. But to catch the interest of teenagers the parliament had a game developed Rixdax (only in the Swedish language).

The game educates teenagers about the work carried out by the Swedish government. It is laid out as a brick game, whereby the player advances five levels. Random generated questions in each level are connected to a specific theme. Each correct answer yields a point, while for each wrong answer points are deducted from the score. After each question the player not only sees his/her score, but also how many of the online players have scored the correct answer. After a level is completed, an illustration of one of the parliament buildings emerges on the virtual game board.

The game was developed during the winter of 2004 and 2005. The assignment had been awarded to the media design company Alpha. In the design process 24 teenagers between the ages of 16-18 years old were included on different levels of the design. The decision had already been made that it would be a virtual brick game; besides the parliament had delivered the game questions. In the first session with the teenagers a Power Point presentation of the game was made; they could also play the first module individually on the computer. Afterwards remarks of the teenagers were collected, discussed and there was an agreement on the changes to be made. In the second session the teenagers were divided in pairs and could play the game, which took about 25 minutes.; again the remarks were collected and agreement on the most crucial changes was reached. It was interesting to hear, the researcher told, that the teenagers told her that they would play the regardless whether they were told by the teacher to play it or not , because the experience of the game itself and its content was considered motivating enough for them.

The game is up now on the internet and can be played by anyone (... who speaks Swedish). As you can see I tried the introduction, but did not get more than 100 points to start with (at least some instant gratification).

Blog Posting Number: 716

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