At the start of the project I was very interested in teaching the “creative process” using games. Starting the semester I had no idea where to begin or what the creative process really was, at least in a demystified enough way that could then be translated in the logic rule structure of a game. At the time, I had no idea what it was I wanted to teach specifically or who the audience for the game would be. Basically I had no starting point.
Meeting with Dr. Simonton in the morning help start the process in my brain. I was instantly fascinated with the Mutilated Checkerboard problem he described mainly because of the sequential process the experiment took on getting increasingly abstract yielding better and better results.
At the very end of Nancy Nersessian’s presentation during the the Q&A she mentioned how her idea that the doodles in Newton’s notebooks and the importance of abstract relationships was completely lost in the current American education system. That was the void that presented itself for me to fill. That was when I knew where to focus the game and what to focus on.
At this point the common theme that started presenting itself is the idea of metaphor and applying abstract elements to solve seemingly unrelated problems. I knew I wanted to teach an element of the creative process instead of just creating a game that helps facilitate creativity. Metaphor was that element. From here it seemed like the best way to teach this concept of metaphor was by using the Mutilated Checkerboard problem that Dr. Simonton presented to slowly try and get the player to come to the solution.
Meeting Crewdson was reassuring because it was a practical example of metaphor in practice. Crewdson getting his ideas while swimming is a prime use of metaphor and was a huge confidence boost that I was on the right track.
Unfortunately, while meeting Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was incredibly informative, it began a series of road blocks making this challenge increasingly difficult the deeper I looked into the problem. One key road block that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talk about is how to achieve flow in a learning environment. It requires a constant feedback loop between the teacher and the student so the challenge is always matched to the student’s skill and there aren’t any external distractions. This constant feedback is a problem many games deal with. Constant tweaks to AI are required, difficulty levels, and various control schemes are used to try and simplify this feedback loop. Naturally this problem became amplified in this project because maintaing that flow is so important in causing the player to have the “Eureka” moment to solve the problem.
After this first setback was a process of a few steps forward and a few steps backwards. Every time I had a good idea of how to tackle a flaw in the design a new flaw would present itself. By the end I think there are still major flaws with the design that requires a fundamental change in the core concept of how to teach the concept of metaphor.
The “Eureka” forum was very encouraging for me because of Dean Dennis Kratz’s anecdotal story about how the “Eureka” moment may not hit you for years after you stop working on a problem. He too had an idea he was dissatisfied with that he had to continue and see through to the finish, but he was still able to reach the resolution he was searching for years later. This is how I feel right now with this project because it just does not feel right, but I may still come to a realization some time in the future that will give me the breakthrough I have been searching for all semester. I still think games can be used to help teach part of the creative process, but this game is not it. It is a good attempt and sometimes an idea has to fail before it can succeed.