What we can learn from BAFTA best game winner

Last night the BAFTA Games Awards took place and showcased some of the best in the UK in terms of game design, audio, visual, narrative, music and innovation. The games industry is continuing to grow and one of the reasons spin-offs such as gamification are also growing and finding their way into the workplace.

Last year, 32.4 million people played games in the UK, spending $4.2bn, which made the UK the 5th largest games market in the UK (data from Newzoo). The Scottish built game Grand Theft Auto grossed over $6bn since it’s launch in 2013, which is more than the highest grossing movie Avatar.

The 2018 BAFTA winner of the best game is “What remains of Edith Finch” developed by Giant Sparrow/Annapurna Interactive. It is a mystery adventure game, played in the first person exploring the life of a family that used to live in a big house in the woods. Here is the trailer:

The last remaining family member of the Finch family is coming back to the old house to discover more about her family members. The storytelling really draws you in, so many mysteries are raised at every step, enticing you to continue exploring. A key opens the door to secret passages and all of a sudden you find yourself exploring the game as an animal instead of a human. It gives a multi-perspective approach to one story.

When I look at the stories in games like this, with the variety of angles and characters, e-learning development has a lot to learn yet. If you look at a development team for a game of this nature, it will include game designers, narrative designers, asset creators, level creators, music writers, developers, etc. and you compare it with the size of a typicaly elearning team which if you are lucky is two people a learning designer and a learning developer and here and there you may also have the assistance of graphics and voice-over people. But if we really want to make learning as intriguing as games with great stories, there is a need to think different about the size of the teams working on them.

A lot of elearning is written in the third person and someone is telling you what to do next. In the ‘what remains of Edith Finch’ game, you explore as the first person. Little lights that change into hands, indicate that you can open something. A pathway in the forrest guides you to the house, in the house you can choose your way of exploring. The graphics are there to guide you along and also create a distinctive mood for the story. The fact that sometimes you see the world through the eyes of a human, but other times you may be a cat or an owl or… Either way the perspective is interesting, surprising and different.

In my work in gamification for learning, I really push people to level up their thinking and working styles around learning design. I have to say, it is not easy to find learning designers that can flex into full out story writing and at times I have wondered if I hired a narrative designer instead or even a movie script writer, would I just get a better learning story. (if you are a narrative designer willing to test your skills on learning plots, do get in touch)

I love using games as inspiration and this type of game, definitely gives great food for thought. Well done to all the winners at the Bafta game awards. I look forward to exploring the titles I haven’t yet played.

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