Game Design and Development as Mathematical Activities: Proposing a Framework

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In this paper a framework for describing some of the mathematical activities inherent in computer game design is proposed in order to develop a framework for use in a recently conducted pilot study. The paper presents an introduction of previous work on the subject of game design and mathematics education which have mostly been tied to students making learning games involving specific mathematical content. Game design activities are reported to have a motivational pull for students. A challenge seems to be that the students are mostly motivated by the game design or the programming activities, not by understanding the mathematical content they are designing their games about. This and the authors’ own research have led to a need for articulation of the inherent mathematical activities that exists in game design. This is done through a theoretical framework with three aspects. The first is called domain-specific challenges and introduces a way of looking at game-based educational activities as a negotiation of meaning between knowledge practices and describes the role of contexts in mathematics education. This aspect is used to understand how students perceive valid mathematical activity in the relations between the game design process, mathematics as a subject, the pedagogical practices, as well as the students’ everyday experience with games. The second aspect presents algorithmic thinking and systems thinking as a basis for thinking in causalities, stochastic processes and consequences, which relates to mathematical activities in two ways; developing computer games though programming languages can relate to algorithmic thinking and systems thinking is related to the game design process. The third aspect is the instrumental approach to computational artifacts mediation as a means of understanding the mediation between user and goal through the computational artifacts being used. The framework serves as a lens for making sense of computer game design as a context for learning mathematics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication10th European Conference on Games Based Learning: ECGBL 2016
Number of pages7
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
Publication date6 Oct 2016
ISBN (Print)978-1-911218-09-8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-911218-10-04
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2016
Event10th European Conference on Games Based Learning - Paisley, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Oct 20167 Oct 2016
Conference number: 10


Conference10th European Conference on Games Based Learning
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

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