Changing Our Contractor

    by Fabio Berzaghi
    July 26, 2008

    I have a few news about our project. We were working with the development team at Pine Tech, the Johnson Simulation Center. After almost one year into the project we decided to part ways with them. I think we need to work with someone on campus, in the house, to work closely with. We struggled to work with them since they had other projects to work on and could not put much effort into ours.

    But at least we got something out of it. A learning experience, bits of a design process and something that in my opinion is close to being a testing prototype.

    The approach we had with them was to embed key information into mini-games and have the player go through different locations where a brief overview of the stakeholder point of view on the issue was presented. Then the mini-game would have tried to add a game/entertaining/fun component to the whole experience.


    Right now we have two mini-games that are working. With a map and different accessible locations and and introductory part. I think at this point we should try to save as much as possible of what was done and with a little more work we can make this testable.
    In order to do that we are trying to open a collaboration with a development group within the University of Minnesota. Next week we will meet them and discuss the technical details.

    On the other end we keep working with Distill and we had made a few changes to the first version. Right now we are debating on the linearity of the story and whether to use an oracle or something like help points, in a form of payphones perhaps, to help the player in case he/she needs some directions.

    Tagged: contractor development games
    • Good luck with the transition. In our work, too, I’ve realized that trying to combine building something entirely new with managing an outside contractor can be time consuming in its very best case scenario. You are trying to brainstorm and explore and a good contractor should be trying to set realistic expectations and keep scope-creep in check.

      I have a half finished post in the wings about a couple of web based news game projects that might offer interesting insights into your undertaking. One game is Play the News (which I showed to Fabio at MIT, but might be interesting to other people) which invites players to read briefs prepared by various stakeholders on some issue and then make a prediction about the eventual outcome and take a stand on the issue personally. It is one model that can be applied over and over to all kinds of situations from the travails of Brangelina to long term oil contracts in Iraq.

      Another game I’ve been goofing with is a facebook game called Veepstakes. The folks at The Takeaway put it together. It is a sort of combination football pool and stock trade, and it lets people weigh in on how today’s news has changed their thinking about who the likely VP candidates will be. I want to say it is brilliant except I’m not the sort of political junkie that follows the minutiae of the candidates’ VP decisions. It is definitely a smart game, and because it is Facebook you can add to the fun by throwing VP prospects at your friends when the politics get to be too much.

      Somewhere within Veepstakes is a recipe for a game that can be reapplied to any number of current event situations.

    • Fabio

      thanks for the comment Amanda. I am going to play a little bit with that facebook game. Also, I remember the Play The News you showed me at the conference. I heard from Nora that you had a high drop-out rate from your latest maze game that you showed me. Have you managed to get around that?

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