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Sociology Games

Since 2013 sociology team member have collaborated with different sets of students to develop games-based learning tools through a gamified workshop methodology. With HEA funding and internal funding the projects aim to explore how simulation and games can be utilized to enhance the student experience by utilizing – this is our core value – students’ experiences and expertise of student life and learning. In the first instance, students developed two interactive games resources that were designed to be used with an underlying aim to prepare and help student identify, explore and overcome typical ethical and methodological dilemmas that may emerge during the research process and to encourage them to become reflexive research project designers. Each project has used a workshop methodology to develop both the concept and the content to a brief given to students. For the research methods games the brief included to create a game that addresses research methods learning whilst also liven up teaching.

More recently, a third game, “University Challenges” was produced under a similar premise. In order to explore the idea that ‘student intelligence’ could be incorporated into teaching and learning practices ‘through collaboration with academics’ (Neary, 2012: 2), students developed an interactive game resource that was designed to be used during the induction period and into the first year of arriving students, aiming to prepare and help students to form positive social relationships with other students, and with students from other year groups if the game is facilitated by an older student, so as to reassure them of the journey they are about to undertake into university life.

In foregrounding the collaboration with students we subscribe to a ‘students as producers’ discourse (Gerodetti and Nixon, 2014) and from presenting our work at conference we know this to be a unique approach to gamification. A key observation from our game-design workshops and watching students play the games with other students were the positive social relationships that were built amongst students from different backgrounds when playing the game. One of the strong benefits of games based learning resources is that there is no “cost” to failure and getting it wrong can be used as a real opportunity to learn from.

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