The RAGEecosystem – A European Serious/Applied Games project.

Sarah Humphries (Dean of the Hull School of Art & Design), Anna Kirk-Smith (Programme Leader for Fine Art) and Gareth Sleightholme (Lecturer in Games) are currently involved in an EU funded project looking at (Serious/) Applied Games and their application with regards to allowing further access to employment for citizens across the EU and part of the Horizon 2020 initiative.

3-2016-02-04-RAGE Publicity Photo - Edit

(above) RAGErs in MAdrid, 2015

So, firstly… What is the RAGE Ecosystem?

RAGE (Realising an Applied Gaming Eco-system) is a project that aims to deliver a collection of self-contained “gaming assets” (in this instance, read discreet, individual, coded elements/software solutions) that support game studios, developers and researchers at developing applied games easier, faster and more cost-effectively, thus making them better suited for their purpose. RAGE will make these gaming assets available along with a large volume of high quality knowledge resources (discussions, papers, metadata etc) through the RAGE Eco-system, a social space that aims to be the single entry point for Applied Gaming discussion and development.

Alongside these discreet technology assets developed by the RAGE project, it will also realise a centralised access to a wide range of Applied Gaming software modules, services and resources (or their metadata) that have been designed and developed in regional and EU funded projects. The RAGE Ecosystem will:

  • Provide centralised access to a wide range of dispersed Applied Gaming assets
  • Share strong expertise in key technology value chains
  • Provide a social dimension supported by community tools for collaboration, annotation,

And with regard to creativity & professional/industrial/creative matchmaking…

  • Support gaming developers in moving quicker from research excellence to the market
  • Organise workshops and offer training courses for developers and educators
  • Support industrial road-mapping with new mechanisms to encourage disruptive innovation
  • Cover cross-cutting aspects such as international cooperation
  • Make available a set of asset creation aids that will allow developers and educators to create their own assets.

Currently the research staff from the Hull School of Art & Design are working with Applied Games developers from Cambridge and Germany to develop two games using the conceptual model of the ecosystem currently in development.

1 – The “Water Cooler” Game.

The “Water Cooler” Game aims to evaluate and enhance industry relevant group-working skills in a range of students (particularly those who have a digital focus to their studies) through the use of self-appraisal and situational appraisal, applied in a virtual group-working scenario that tests the students conflict management skills, attitudes towards equality and diversity in the workplace and team working skills.

Designed as an ongoing/”endless” scenario, the game can be used as part of semester or year long modules that use traditional practical group working as a major part of the studio activity being used alongside any practical sessions, whilst in the support of shorter courses, the game will be used in and of itself.

Both scenarios would result in a series of short or extended gameplay sessions (as appropriate) followed by discussion with the tutor/lecturer looking at data collected by the game showing the players given responses to game based stimuli.

This combination of gameplay based feedback, and tutor feedback would form the basis of an ongoing plan for the player/student when moving into any future “live” group working scenarios.

2 – The Entrepreneurs Game.

This Entrepreneurs Game aims to develop creative industry focused entrepreneurial skills in students who are about to embark on creative careers following graduation. The game aims to support longer professional practice modules within arts faculty programmes, as well as more focused retraining for employment programs.

Using live, causal feedback interfaces the game will help the player explore and identify those key skills and knowledge areas required to develop a comprehensive business plan appropriate to a particular creative market sector model or start-up enterprise whether as a sole trader or a creative service provider, or even a “bricks and mortar” enterprise such as a creative product store or a gallery.

The game will allow the player/student to experiment with effective balance and prioritisation within a “safe” sandbox environment whilst understanding the value of The Creation of a Business Plan; Knowing your Industry Networks, Funding a Start-up, Cashflow and Financial Planning, Branding & Marketing Strategies, Audience etc. With a combination of gameplay and tutor feedback the game will form the basis of the development of an ongoing action plan when moving into “live” entrepreneurial practice or business planning phases.

To date the members from a range of Universities and Companies across Europe have met at a number of RAGE conferences to debate and push the project and the highly individual “User Case” scenarios forward in order to fully test the premise of the RAGEecosystem, these conferences have taken place in Heerlen in the Netherlands at the OUNL; Lisbon at the The Escola de Polícia Judiciária-EPJ, London at the Applied Gaming Conference (Gaminomics 2015); Toledo; Paris; and most recently (see top of post) in Spain at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM); with the next RAGE Conference expected in September in Manchester hosted by Bolton University.

Researchers and developers continue to work outside the conference scenarios via Skype and face-to-face meetings (with Cambridge developers Gameware visiting HSAD and staff in December last year).

The focus of these conferences for our research staff have not only taken their inception from the studio practice of the staff and students of the Games Design BA and Fine Art and other specialisms, but are now positively feeding back into the teaching and learning processes and discussions therein.

Papers are expected to be submitted as the project draws closer to its completion in 2020.

(below) RAGErs in Heerlen, The Netherlands, at the first RAGE conference.

RAGE team at Kick Meeting in Heerlen