Games and Scientific Discovery

Since the 1950s, games have been a part of the culture of scientific discovery.
In 1951, The Nimrod was a special purpose computer built to play the game of Nim, for display at the Exhibition of Science during the 1951 Festival of Britain. In 1952, the game OXO, a naughts and crosses game (tic-tack-toe for Americans) was developed in Cambridge UK by Alexander S. Douglas, a PhD candidate, for an EDSAC computer, and this research lead to the development of the field of Human Computer Interaction. The game was displayed on a cathode ray tube used to control tanks.
In 1958, William Higinbotham, of Brookhaven National Laboratory, developed Tennis for Two.

see an emulation of the game, above!

Now, games are used by researchers to study and produce new knowledge. We are working on crowdsourcing and new knowledge creation with our Metadata Games project. Tiltfactor’s Layoff game was a platform to research how players develop empathy in games– read Belman, J. & Flanagan, M. “Designing Games to Foster Empathy.” Cognitive Technology Journal 14(2).

Games are unique platforms with which to study particular concepts or harness for their participatory potential. Meanwhile, the power of games as an instrument of scientific discovery and education must be harnessed. Right now, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, even with media multitasking, children today consume media as a full time job.

Further articles related to the Values at Play research may be found in the Canadian game studies journal Loading… Vol 3, No 4 (2009) for our article “Instructional Methods and Curricula for “Values Conscious Design,” which details the curricula and instructional materials created to date. Values at Play researchers investigate how social, moral, and political values are expressed in digital games. Values at Play has developed a systematic approach to considering values in the design process. We have also created and disseminate for all a values based curricula and instructional materials including online Grow-a-Game tool for introducing game design students to the consideration of values in “values conscious” design. Another useful report on research is published in Eludamos: Journal for Computer Game Culture 2010; 4 (1), p. 57-67. “Exploring the Creative Potential of Values Conscious Design: Students’ Experiences with the Values at Play Curriculum” offers a report and discussion the results of a focus group study and design work conducted with students in an undergrad game design course with the Values at Play curriculum.
Find more research articles on the website — the project has produced nearly ten journal and conference publications to date.