Replace Words with Actions

7Although some of us are nostalgic for times gone by, we no longer live in the Wild West of text-based games like Oregon Trail. We found that when people play games today, they don’t read text; they want just to “figure it out.” Therefore, you should not rely on words to tell the story. Instead, use motion, interaction, and as Neil Long puts it, “Use mise-en-scene—the art of telling the story through the environment—to add detail to your narrative without being completely explicit.”

In our game, we used a visual map similar to a flowchart to prime the players on what game to expect. We then used a single speech bubble coupled with animated arrows to reinforce the message. Minimizing text means there are fewer problems with text orientation, which was a unique challenge of the large four-sided table.

From reading urban planning manuals to playing SimCity, people enjoy learning in many different ways. Experts like Jim Gee and David Shaffer agree that games enhance learning through role-playing events—real or fantasy—that players can’t experience in their own lives.

We wanted psychiatrists to walk away with two key messages: that two different molecules need to bind a normal functioning receptor to start a neural impulse, and that in schizophrenia this receptor functions improperly. To communicate these ideas, we made the main actions in the game “flicking” the two different types of molecules toward the receptor and “flicking” the gray abnormal receptor off the membrane.

Leave a Reply