VU computer game leads global innovation

A computer game designed at Victoria University has been awarded for educational innovation.

The first-person shooter style White Card Game developed at Victoria University has players identifying, controlling and reporting workplace hazards on a construction site without getting injured or causing the death of workmates.

It won bronze at the May 16 IMS Global Learning Impact Awards in San Diego, USA, which recognise the most powerful and influential uses of technology worldwide in support of learning.

Game creator Mark O'Rourke of Victoria University's Serious Games Group - speaking from the event - said the award recognised the value of supporting educational experimentation and innovation.

"The game's production has embedded within it the accumulated knowledge of years of serious games trial and error at VU including a number of products, at least three technologies and program areas, a large number of people and plenty of frustration along the way," he said.

Integral to the development of the White Card Game was industry expertise from the Trades College team led by Daniel Bonnici, and teachers Jason Gould, Justin Maddy, Mark Thomson, Peter Stanley and Mark Courtenay.

He said the idea of the game was that lessons are as valid whether learnt in a virtual or real world environment.

"As long as students are actively engaged in the game they absorb the information as they would in real life," he said. "Of course the advantage of the game environment is they can learn by trial and error without anyone actually losing a hand or their life."

Mr O'Rourke said the active learning style suited the student cohort for this qualification, many of who have little or no secondary school experience.

"Games are a medium that young learners are likely to be highly literate in and responsive to, even when disengaged with other social or learning structures," he said.

The White Card Game was trialled and developed with Victoria University's Trades College to encourage greater engagement and participation. Those trials demonstrated how effective the game was in bringing potentially boring lessons to life.

"During research trials of the game there were animated peer to peer interactions among students and lively discussion with the teacher," he said. "This was in stark contrast to comments by one teacher who reported that it was not unusual to get students wandering out of the class, and not returning during break when work safety was delivered in a more traditional Powerpoint presentation style."

As well as working in the University's Serious Games Group, Mr O'Rourke is currently completing his PhD on the effectiveness of computer game-based training.

The project is a collaboration between Victoria University and Oztron Media funded by the National VET E-Learning Strategy.

The White Card Game is under free Creative Commons license.
An introductory video is available on YouTube.

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