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Game Changers

Lab Contact: Helen Keegan
Team: Sylvester Arnab, Samantha Clarke, Luca Morini, Oliver Wood, Alex Masters, Lauren Heywood

Game ChangersOverview

The Game Changers Programme aims to explore, experiment and exploit game design thinking in fostering creative problem solving and cross-disciplinary design collaboration. The overarching pedagogical construct of the initiative is motivated by ‘learning by designing’, which is a project-based inquiry approach. The programme will facilitate new models of teaching and learning, new practice in cross-faculty learning/collaboration and develop new mindsets in the use of creative means for problem solving.

Design is a non-linear, iterative and incremental process, which is generative and creative. Design thinking has crossed over to learning, where it is a “way of finding human needs and creating new solutions using the tools and mindsets of design practitioners” (Kelley & Kelley, 2013, pp. 24-25). As it pertains to games, it is a “set of skills, competencies or dispositions relating to the highly iterative collaborative process designers employ when conceiving, planning and producing an object or system” (“Institute of Play,” 2013). Game design involves a creative combination of rules (mechanics), interactions (dynamics, aesthetics), contents and narratives that will involve cross-disciplinary collaboration.

The programme will focus on the design and development of games (analogue or digital) or gamified activities for addressing serious issues/challenges/problems/opportunities. The programme involves missions with sub-tasks (quests), where participants can level up based on their level of readiness. The programme will provide open contents and resources to assist and guide participants and organise open sessions (workshops, speakers, etc.) throughout the process. The levels and contents are developed based on the holistic and modular model for designing gamified learning developed at the lab (figure 1). The layers can be visited and re-visited in an iterative and incremental manner to consolidate the design requirements and specifications.


Figure 1. Holistic and Modular model for designing gamified learning

The programme is open to all staff and students across the university and will engage key actors from the industry. Participants will obtain valuable knowledge in creative and collaborative problem solving, experience game design and development process and gain recognition from the industry. This programme will also support the flipped  agenda at the university, where lecturers will be able to gamify their subject content and/or teaching practice for instance and involve students and game/gamification experts as co-designers. The programme will produce products such as online and open resources on game design thinking, game prototypes and new model for running this program to support cross-faculty collaboration.

Tentative research questions:

  • How can the holistic game design process foster cross-disciplinary collaboration and scaffold learning experience and problem solving?
  • What impact will the co-designing of gamified solutions have on teaching and learning practices?
  • Will engagement with open content and resources scaffold and enhance learning experience?
  • What knowledge and skills gained during the process that will be transferable to other courses/modules?

The GameChangers programme has two spin-off projects – Mobile GameChangers and CreativeCulture, respectively funded by HEFCE and NEWTON UK-SEA (AHRC+MoHE).


  1. To make game design and development accessible to staff and students, which will promote/facilitate cross-disciplinary learning by designing: The programme will create a creative culture, where disciplinary barriers will be removed to allow students and staff to experiment on new techniques in problem solving. Open resources and sessions will be organised to support a community of game design thinkers. Internal and external experts will be invited to speak and mentor the groups. Staff and students can create their own playful and gameful solutions by following the design thinking process.
  2. To facilitate, capture and evaluate learning experience, outcomes and transferability:  The programme will introduce game design process and provide an environment for students and staff to be creative. The programme will capture learning and progress of the participants, and assess the transferability of knowledge, skills and experience gained. Indicators and measures related to ‘learning by designing’, ‘learning to learn’ and ‘scaffolded learning’ will be considered for evaluation.


Programme Application

The programme is promoting open resources, which includes contents/media, open sourced platforms, etc.

Open Course

The Game Changers Programme will adopt an Open and Connected approach; this will encourage the ethos of sharing, collaborating and remixing, fostered by the DMLL. All content produced by those undertaking the programme will be inherently open, including all designs, development works and documentation produced within their respective groups, and licenced under Creative Commons.

A variety of DMLL generated and public domain support materials will be made available via a dedicated Game Changers online resource. Having the content delivered and driven by user experience, the programme will be presented by means of a responsive WordPress website. Content and tasks will be public from launch to relax time constraints and allow participants to work through the programme at his/her own pace. The website will also have aggregation features to pull in the community’s progress and associated conversations. Fostering collaboration in an open and engaging way.


The Game Changers Community will meet face to face on a regular basis throughout the programmes with speakers events and focus groups. There will be a host of different social media platforms for the participants to engage with, but will not be limited to using one space; the website will act as an aggregator to pull in a whole feed of information from all the participants.

Tool and workshop development

So far, the programme has produced and/or implemented playful and gameful toolkits and initatives that can can be adopted and adapted for teaching and learning, which include:


How to get involved

Contact us if:

  • You have an interest in creating your own game-based solutions as part of your course/module or even for leisure
  • You are interested to embed playful and gameful approaches in your teaching and learning
  • You want to find out more about playful and gameful approaches




Arnab, S. and Clarke, S. (2017), Towards a trans-disciplinary methodology for a game-based intervention development process.. British Journal of  Educational Technology, 48: 279–312. doi:10.1111/bjet.12377

Clarke, S., Arnab, S. & Morini, L (2016). EscapED: Adapting Live-Action, Interactive Games to Support Higher Education Teaching and Learning Practices. Games Learning Society Conference. Aug 2016

Clarke, S., Arnab, S. & Morini, L, Wood, O., Green, K. & Master, A. (2016). EscapED: A Framework for Creating Live-Action, Interactive Games for Higher/Further Education Learning and Soft Skills Development. ECGBL 2016, Paisley, Oct 2016

Arnab, S., Bhakta, R., Merry, S., Smith, S., Star, K. & Duncan, M. (In press). Competition And Collaboration Using A Social And Gamified Online Learning Platform. ECGBL 2016, Paisley, Oct 2016.

Charitonos, K., Morini, L.,Arnab, S., Wilson, TC., Brick, B., Bellamy-Wood T. & Van Leeuwen, G. (2016). Urban Explorations for language learning: A gamified approach to teaching Italian in a university context, In S. Papadima-Sophocleous, L. Bradley & S. Thouesny (Eds). CALL Communities and Culture – Short paper from EuroCALL 2016 (pp 1-6) Cyprus.

Morini, M., Charitonos, K., Arnab, S., Wilson, TC., Brick, B., Bellamy-Wood T. & Van Leeuwen, G. (in press). ImparApp: Designing And Piloting A Game-Based Approach For Language Learning. ECGBL 2016, Paisley, Oct 2016



  • January – March 2016 – First Pilot
  • 15th February 2017Remix Play Summit
  • March 2017 – on-going – GameChangers programme live


Project Timeline:

Start date:

September 2015

End date:





Associated Faculties, Schools and/or Course(s):

  • Faculty of Arts and Humanities
  • Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
  • Office of Teaching and Learning
  • Computing (Game tech)
  • Sports Psychology
  • Languages Centre
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