Twice a year, the Association for Learning Technology’s Special Interest Group on Games and Learning (ALTGLSIG) meet for 24 hours of planning, writing, playing, designing and socialisation. This year, our May meeting took place (fittingly, given the sudden blazing sunshine) at the beach, hosted at the University of Brighton by Katie Piatt.
To add to the fun, our designated hotel was the rather fabulous (if slightly scary) Hotel Pelirocco. Most of us escaped the more risqué rooms (I was in the fabulous Rough Trade room: a replica of my teenage bedroom, complete with record player and LPs) although Andy Walsh (the librarian of the group) came close with his Austin Powers-style Russian Vodka room and pink-cusion-laden bed.
The event itself was a thoroughly engaging range of activities. We were launched straight into a murder mystery game, devised by Katie for local police training, which culminated in a mad scramble for a ringing telephone somewhere in the large meeting room. Katie outlined the problems she’d encountered engaging the police with the task, yet she’d had much better success with other groups – we launched into a big discussion about contexts and suitability for different types of game with different audiences.
After some rather tasty biscuits, it was time to try our hand at the world of geotagging/geocaching. Under remote instruction from Becka Colley (University of Bradford), we set out armed with smart phones into sunny Brighton to find (successfully) two secret caches; and ponder the application of geocaching, and particularly the ‘scavanger hunt’ approach of sending teams around several sites of interest to collect each new co-ordinate, in induction for first year undergraduates (sending students around the campus, library, or local town).
Our core aim for the meeting was to define and shape the key approach/structure of the white paper we are writing on Games for Adult Learning, and we spent several fruitful hours mapping this out. Our plan is to have this ready by September, and produce a number of easy-access formats (data sheets, short animations etc.) for those wanting a quick or easy overview.
The evening was spent on the seafront, playing the excellent and almost unique collaborative board game Forbidden Island and a couple of rounds of Bananagrams whilst munching fish’n’chips and planning other outreach events. Perfect.
The following morning we helped Sam Ingleson (University of Salford) playtest her clever student induction game, which combines a board, cards and discussion activites to help give students an overview of what their first term holds in store (both academically and in life).
A quick round-up of SIG business later, and the fellowship departed in various directions from Brighton station, brains still buzzing from almost 24 hours of fascinating and fun-filled activity.