Selected Game Studies
Field Research | User Testing | Collaboration | Teaching Game Theory
As part of each game and media production that I lead, students and faculty perform user testing. This creates a feedback loop, where we learn about how well the media meets the desired learning outcomes. After several rounds of user testing, and revising, the games are iterated to be more powerfully connected to Next Generation Science Standards, The Common Core Standards, and requirements that K 12 teachers request to integrate the game into their curriculum. You can see these reports on The Epic Project User Testing website (external link).
Below are selected, examples, tested media, and some of the test reports we generated for them.
*Miner Madness Board Game User Testing
About the Miner Madness Game:
Miner Madness is a co-op board game aimed at teaching critical and logical thinking. The players act as a team of miners that must navigate obstacles and avoid danger to dig up hidden treasures deep within the earth.
Keys to successful gameplay include communicating with other team members and creating functions to enhance the game and progress faster.
User Testing Participants
60 Middle School Student Play Testers from Kentwood Public School STEM Days at 2 Middle Schools
30 KCAD game artists, designers, animators, sound designers, and graphic designers
5 Middle School Teachers
3 KCAD Faculty
1 Middle School Curriculum Director
1 Professional Coding Expert
1 Graphic Designer
User Testing Miner Madness at a STEM event at KCAD
I produced the project, in collaboration with Bill Fischer. I connected with Open System Technologies to create a code theory game. The game was developed in two semesters and iterated through user testing and STEM events I led with my game design expert. I taught my students how to design a board game, create supporting animations for learning goals, and "How To Play" the game. I connected the project directly to the middle school curriculum in collaboration with a Middle School Curriculum developer.
Example Field Research Documentation
*Powder Keg A Revolutionary War Card Game User Testing
About the PowderKeg Game:
A Historical Trading Card Game about the American Revolution: Choose a side, make alliances, play your hand, and decide the fate of America.
An American revolutionary war car game. It was tested at the Serious Play conference in 2018 and 2020, Meaningful Play in 2018, and Gencon in 2019. It was an Official Game Selection for the International Meaningful Play Conference in 2022.
180 Museum Middle School Students
70 KCAD artists, animators, actors, sound designers, web designers, game developers, graphic designers
3 History Professors
3 KCAD Art and Design Faculty
2 Game Developers from Open System Technologies
KCAD students helping Museum School Students develop the History Curriculum
Final User Test at KCAD with Museum School Students and KCAD Art and Design students
And, It's a winner!
Powder Keg A Revolutionary War Card Game is a Gold Medal Winner in the 2020 International Serious Play Awards.
The Serious Play Conference (external link) is a leadership conference for professionals who are exploring the use of game-based learning, sharing their experience and working together to shape the future of training and education.
*EPIC Science Field Testing
About EPIC Science:
A website containing 85 amusing animated gifs explaining science concepts designed by KCAD students. The website is searchable and indexes content according to the Next Generation Science Standards. The lessons are targeted toward grades 5-8.
The media was also tested four times at Kenowa Hills Public School, ten times at Artprize Education Days, and finally at Innocademy Charter Middle School.
160 Middle School User Testers at Art Prize
85 KCAD Animators
45 Middle School User Testers at Kenowa Public Schools
30 Middle School User Testers at Innocadamy
3 KCAD Art and Design Professors
3 Kenowa Hills Science Teachers
2 KCAD Web Designers
2 Innocadamy Game and Science Teachers
Web Design by Ethan Smith and John Ladebauche IV. This animation was created by student Caleb Sumney.
Survive Global Climate Change User Testing
Survive Global Climate Change Overview:
To inform students, ages 8-14, about how the extinction of these animals could affect the world using the Next Generation Science standards
Help students understand the Next Generation Science standards through different animated accounts of endangered animals
Encourages students to problem solve and think of solutions within the confines of the issue using short quizzes and helpful research links
In Collaboration with Kenowa Public Schools
1 District Curriculum Director
2 Middle School Science Teachers
60 Middle School Students
45 KCAD Art and Design Students
4 KCAD Digital Art and Design Faculty
Survive Global Climate Change App
Kenowa Hills Middle School students who collaborated came to KCAD to see the final animated science content
The College Students cheered each Middle School team member
Feedback from Collaborators:
Katie Bush, Kenowa Hills Teacher
“My 7th & 8th Grade Science students had a fabulous experience working with Kendall’s EPIC program. We had the opportunity to work as content experts in helping to create an app-based learning experience around Global Climate Change. Students were able to work directly with Kendall students here at the middle school as well as traveling to Kendall’s campus downtown. The real-life application of Science content coupled with the cool factor of designing apps gave my students the motivation to work harder than ever!”
Chris Brown, Digital Concierge
“Collaborating with the Digital Media students at KCAD to build entertaining educational materials has been a very rewarding experience. I am constantly impressed with the talent presented by the students through their illustration, animation and motion graphics skill sets. It’s been really fun to see some of our engaging learning tools for the digital generation come together and get published to the app stores!”
Melissa Boverhoff, KCAD student
“Working on Survive Global Climate change gave me my first glimpse at what it might be like to work on a project for a client in the atmosphere of a media creation company. My classmates and I were given “job titles” and specific tasks to complete; this required teamwork and collaboration. This experience was one of the highlights of my college career. Survive Global Climate Change was particularly rewarding because I was able to see this project go from ideas and storyboards to an app available for download on Android and Apple.”
*Sandon Newton, Innocademy Middle School Game Design Teacher, Protege Games
"It is good stuff! The students really felt like that the quizzes were a game and not a boring fill in the blank "boredom drool fest" they are used to."