Reading Response Chapter 6

Laura Schütz

Chapter 6 - Game Design

The example of the game “The Dragon Cancer” made me think of the importance of play for the healthy development of children. That made me wonder how children with severe diseases deal with the lack of playfulness in their daily lives. I found an article by Nijhof et al. (2018) that states that there is limited understanding about the consequences of the absence of play on the development of chronic diseased children. They make the following point:

        “We argue that stimulating play behavior enhances the adaptability of a child to a (chronic) stressful condition and promotes 
cognitive, social, emotional and psychomotor functioning, thereby strengthening the basis for their future health.”

A study by Potasz et al. (2013) showed that children aged 7–11 who engaged in play activities showed lower cortisol levels. This indicates that play can help to reduce stress, even in stressful environments such as a hospital. That in turn made me wonder how one could design games for children with chronic diseases to foster their maturation. The paper furthermore provides a useful scheme of developmental stages of childhood and the corresponding form of play that children engage in. The distinction between Ludus (Gaming) and Paidia (Play) made in Definition 6.9 (p. 330) is also present in the developmental stages of play, as children start playing games with rules and competition from the age of 8 onwards.

New technologies have the potential to bring play to chronic diseased patients. The learnings from social interactions and behaviors in a virtual gaming environment can be transferred into real world situations. One example of a gamification targeted at children with chronic disease was developed here at Stanford. Budi is an app for children with cerebral palsy that gamifies daily training.

The chapter on Game Design concludes with the sentence: “Play is what we do to be free.” This sentence and the entire chapter were inspirational and eye opening. It offered me an opportunity to reflect on my own relationship with games and playfulness. It made me realize that the things I enjoy most in life are moments of play, of artistic expression - be it through physical movement, drawing, or cooking. Even this class has been a source of constant joy as it brings making art and playing games into my every week. After thinking about it, this class actually contains all of the aesthetics of games (Principle 6.4 + 6.5):

Sensation - of audiovisual happiness & creative exhaustion
Fantasy - of new audio sequencer realms
Discovery - of the new world of audio programming and Chunity
Expression - of creativity in making audiovisual games
Narrative – in telling a story through my homework assignments
Challenges - the error messages and bugs overcome
Fellowship - the Discord chat and work sessions with other students in class
Submission - the choice to keep showing up to class
Reflection - the reading responses that I am writing each week.

Did Ge design this class to be a game?