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Urban Game Design as a Tool for Creativity, Collaboration, and Learning Among Youth

This project is a three-year study funded by the National Science Foundation as part of their Creative IT initiative. The purpose of the study is to better understand the potential of new media in fostering creativity among youth. Through iterative game design, youth participants learn new ways to link media to physical locations via mobile technologies. I am one of two primary investigators and my responsibilities include the authoring of curriculum, facilitating workshops, data analysis, prototyping and designing iPhone apps.

As part of the study we have held workshops with youth ages 4th-8th grade in non-traditional learning environments. The curriculum starts by covering the anatomy of a game through analog game creation and modification. The students then move onto using iPhones and a variety of apps and tools to create location based games in the surrounding neighborhood.

As a result of our the first two years of research an iPhone app and accompanying curriculum guide is being developed to better facilitate and disseminate the workshops. Our findings thus far have proven that kids have a keen ability to understand the systemic logic of game creation, particularly when narrative is central to the process, but have difficulty transitioning concepts into a 3D environment. The new app will help bridge the gap between 2D and 3D environments through the use of augmented reality.