Conversations – Marco Amicucci interviews Matteo Uggeri of the Milan Polytechnic Foundation (Area Digital Learning &amp Collaboration) M. A.: What is the difference between a game with an educational purpose and the Gamification concept? M. U.: They are two very different things. When talking about definitions it is really dangerous to define strict boundaries. It can be said that educational, or serious, games are digital products with a strong educational component. Gamification is more a practice, a mode that is not necessarily digitally based or requires the use of a computer, so it can be used in corporate settings or in a classroom. We could say that a professor who organises a little competition with a prize, other than the voting per se, this is already an example of Gamification. Now there are companies that have made Gamification their main business, but often it is related to digital components: These companies work with others in the training or motivation field. The most classic example is that of company – say a pharmaceutical company – which has to learn the techniques to sell and to convince customers and doctors. They must be stimulated to purchase. It is clear that the classic and banal incentive is the most economic one, although there may be other simulations, even playful ones, through which one can invent and implement games that promote healthy competition. These practices often have a direct impact on reality, they are not just simulations They may be, but in this case the meeting point with serious games become labile. M. A.: I know that you are a Game Jam format expert, an event dedicated to gaming, can you introduce us into this world? Help us to clarify what this is about and how games can be used for purposes that are not only fun-related. M. U.: This format, the Game Jam, is something very interesting and challenging, let’s say even curious. Firstly, it is a particular format. Basically, it came from another type of practice that is perhaps better known, that of the Hackathon, in other words certain moments in which programmers and software developers get together and try to develop a program in a limited amount of time, normally a weekend. The Game Jam is these elements put together. M. A.: So it concerns events organised in physical locations where the participants meet each other for the first time to produce the games. What is the most common type? What are the main aims? Are They generally related to school education? M. U.: Not necessarily. They can be very general or very specific. For example, there are three themes in our project that will last for three years and that began last year, one for each year. We started with ICT, and therefore with technological innovation, focusing on communication in new technologies. This year the topic was broader, and it concerned healthy lifestyles. Having organised the event in Milan, and this being Expo year, we focused on the theme of food. As a result, our staff developed games that had a more or less explicit message, that of consuming food in a healthy manner. We prepared certain contracts for the participants that released them from the commercial use of the product, because our project has essentially educational purposes and is funded by the European Union. This is a very general theme. To the contrary, in some contexts such as corporate ones, Game Jams are sometimes organised according to a specific commitment. There are companies that wish to develop games for internal training purposes and use the format of the Game Jam because, in this way, they generate ideas for working prototypes in a very short space of time starting from these ideas, they can begin developing something more interesting. M. A.: Who participates in a Game Jam? Are there also atypical participants or are they always experts in video games? M. U.: The figure of the game developer has a very wide profile. To make a game takes a lot of personality. At the event in Milan there was a very interesting intervention by Giuseppe Franchi of Event Horizon who explained what a game designer is figure, that is, a person who designs games. Who is he/she? What does he/she do? It’s a different role compared with an implementer, who still has a very important role. Moreover, in recent years, we have seen the increasing participation of a female audience both in terms of use and game development. Staff skilla

written by: Staff skilla , 29 January 2016

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