Game Development at GONA

Updated: Jun 13

Introduction to Game Development by Natasha Skult


Based on transcription, according to the live lecture by Natasha Skult, a Game Developer - Entrepreneur - Academic & Teacher, hosted by Ray Global Digital.


Introduction to Game Development

There is a lot of misunderstanding on gamification, quite often and in previous time, like let's say in the past decade or longer, let's say certified teachers; if you think about educational games, quite often it would happen that teachers are the ones who are asked to make a game and teachers don't know anything about making games. It is not even necessarily that they play games, so this is really important aspect of who is actually involved in creating gamified solution because when it comes to education for example, teachers are the right people to teach because they're experts in the curriculum and the ways learning process of a certain subject and on a certain level but do they know how to make it into actually engaging experience? Not really, and this is something where we can see from the various gamified solutions in the previous years, in the market that they did not really succeed because wrong people were involved. So, i will be talking now exactly what it means and how to improve it but before we go there, i want to ask if anyone here actually, because i love interacting with the audience as well.


If anyone wants to answer this very simple question, why we play games? why do people play any kind of games, be it mobile, pc, console, you name it. Why do you play games as a child or as an adult?


Response from attendees

Attendee - Yes, games are a way of learning information, just like in the the mimicking of our parents of what they do. We mimic their voice in speaking words, we mimic their actions when we see them. Games are a way of practicing basic skills in order to get better at them as adults.


Thank you for that anyone else - Natasha


Attendee I while away time when i play game, i do play game maybe when sitting in the bus traveling or maybe when sitting, when i'm bored. I just use game to while away time mostly,


Natasha - Yes, that is another. Any other person?


Attendee Why I play games, "relaxation". It's relaxes me, i don't have to think too much -


Natasha- "definitely it depends on the game though"


Thank you for all the answers, the first answer - when it comes to mimicking and learning actually, that's not about the games, it's play, there's a big difference between 'play' and the 'game' i will just highlight that yes you're totally right, you described what play is. We actually learn different skills within the safe environment because as you play you are not in any risk of any kind, even failure is not necessarily taken as a bad thing. It's just like you learn by doing and therefore that's the play part but why do we really play games?

Game Developers

I fit personally as a hardcore gamer, being away from this reality, basically stepping into something else that you are not necessarily part of or you're experiencing completely different worlds and pretty much you can fulfill different kind of dreams or fantasies in a way that for example, you can be in a space crusade or you can go through medieval castles and you can do this like you can do so many things or you can be a farmer, you can literally through farm simulator experience what it is to like to be a farmer and many other ways.


What games do are basically is to serve as a gateway to fulfilling certain dreams or fantasies or trying different stuff and we game developers are the ones who actually create the building blocks for a player to receive that fantasy, even as game developers we design games in so many ways and we especially design a very strict essence, so that when the players play very often it happens that players do stuff within the game world that we designers never expected and this is the beautiful thing and the dialogue between games and the players. I mean the game developers and the players because unlike in movies or any other medium where there is a kind of a monologue from the screen to the viewer, here there is a dialogue between the developer and this is the beauty of actually creating this sort of ongoing relationship and figuring out what players really want. What kind of things we need to tackle further to really get the most out of the planned experience.


Watch the lecture via the YouTube link



This is for any kind of games, otherwise games are incredible teaching tools because you get to, no matter what game we're talking about, mobile or any free to play kind of casual game to you know, hardcore strategy or whatever RPG games, they are on the different platforms. Every single game teaches a player rules of what is actually possible in that world. Rules are placed, what do you do, what you're supposed to like, where are you going, what do you have, what kind of abilities and different things you actually have to achieve these goals and most importantly how we deal with the failure in games. Failure is kind of like you you have this self motivation to actually get back and do better or maybe they have different motivations, some players wanna you know get better score or beat the score of their friends but the point is that there is this personal drive that you wanna get better while in the real life when we face failure we can face a lot of emotional, you know let's say some kind of moments where you are not secure in yourself, so a lot of insecurity happens, this is something that we believe that utilizing game design approach within the other aspects of everyday life, from learning healthcare, well-being pretty much everything, there is a lot of potential that we can actually do to support individual because we as individuals even you now listening to me, you might have been having literally a bad day or maybe you didn't sleep enough or maybe you had an awesome day and you can totally focus here but that's the thing you know everything affects us all the time so we learn things differently some are better at doing stuff by hand, some by listening, some by reading by themselves and this is what it's really important to understand that, also when you create a gamified solution it should be accessible in any way that final user should actually receive such content and gaming gamified solutions are for professionals to use with their clients or students or however you want to call them and it's not to replace them, so this is another really important aspect to know but this is what i want to kind of start the discussion of what actually games are because finland has been very successful with the edtech side of things and gamification series games and so on and you can find a lot of information actually on data from from finnish and even in within the EU because there's a lot of EU funded projects actually in this area, so there is a lot of data that one can actually take and explore and the reason why finland has been so good is not really just the money, it's not actually that easy here either to get the funding for certain projects but the reason why it was so successful is because of professionals from different fields; let's go back to education, so if we think about teachers they are super open-minded to actually try things out, work together with developers to figure out stuff together because that is what really makes gamification works, that means that literally everyone works together from the expertise in their field. It's not enough to have a teacher, it's not enough to have a designer but they together with all other narrative designers, artists, audio designers, everyone has to be on the same page and work together as a whole even though they may not necessarily know each other's obviously expertise in the sense that they are experts in their fields but this is where a lot of listening and a lot of co-creation kind of practices take place which is not easy especially for someone who does not know anything about the other person's field but this is where the trust in their expertise is crucial and listening and testing, testing all the time but that is one of the good things about gamification.




Even though it sounds okay, it might be actually super expensive, in the long run it's not actually really cheap or very effective to create certain gamified solution that can be then available globally, if not just for a specific region because of languages and so on, i mean this is now depending on what kind of strategy for the product you have but there is a global impact and it's very easy and fast to kind of get it and alter it and pivot and fix it up and adjust it according to the special needs of different users around the world, especially we can see like one of the reasons why mobile games are so successful is exactly with how do you actually approaches every single kind of various markets with the same game, in a way you actually have a success because of that how you actually make it, as a design fits different kind of cultures and needs and so on but that's a completely separate lecture on itself.


When it comes to gamification, once again and besides this sort of list here that i put from the higher user engagement very rewarding for the person who is using it and so on but self-governed motivation and learning is the crucial thing because if the person finds gamified tool boring they're not going to use it and it doesn't matter how many teachers or therapists or whoever is forcing someone to do, they will maybe not going to engage with it. Therefore, it's really important to focus on the design and that the design works, let say teacher has the final aim for students to learn that's where designer figures out in which way to introduce certain aspects but also how to engage with a player with the specific parts there that it really feels as a full experience not just facts given or answered like in quizzes and this is why we have quite many unsuccessful gamified solutions and this is where we believe at least in my team and i am a strong believer that interactive storytelling is something that can in general, are something that can help us a lot especially in breaking that stigma over you know educational healthcare or any other kind of gamified or serious games kind of thing because as long as you have really good contents that really reflects to the user which games have in general.


What matters in gamification is make sure that you experiment as much as you can and the reason behind that is that you actually see what works for your final user, so always use user centric approach and get them involved as soon as you can in testing, as soon as you have anything on the screen moving, get them in there, get the feedback.


Working fast and testing fast is crucial at the end of the day stories and also generally, users as players are the creators of the fantasy and we as developers create just a building blocks for them, so don't forget that you make sure that you let them explore and learn things on their own way. Do nothing without listening, listen to your team, to yourself, not just your gut feeling but also listening to your fellow co-creators, your clients, your users and so on. It's really important that you know that skills are crucial when it comes to this industry.


GONA

Game On Now Africa ( GONA) is one of the sections of Ray Global Summit which exclusively deals with everything gamification and game development toward the development of African video game hub.