Intertwining Culture With Education Through Gamified Storytelling: The Case of “Myth Trek”

Intertwining Culture With Education Through Gamified Storytelling: The Case of “Myth Trek”

Chairi Kiourt, Stella Markantonatou
DOI: 10.4018/IJCMHS.2018010102
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Coupling culture and education has attracted significant attention and pushed towards the replacement of the typical STEM model into STEAM. An effective integration of culture in the everyday educational practice, empowered by game-based storytelling has already shown great potential in transforming the way people are exposed to and grasp knowledge. This paper presents an attempt to put culture, education, gaming and storytelling together. Myth Trek was a game developed using state-of-the-art gaming technology, and integrated elements going back in time all the way to the ancient Greek mythology, embedding a time-distorted history onto the present day's landscape in the center of the city of Athens, with an aim to save Athens from complete annihilation. In a playful action/adventure gaming setting, the game mixes mythology, history, architecture and the environment to expose players to the long history of Athens.
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Integration of play in educational activities is usually termed as gamification, relating to a considerable volume of research in game studies and human-computer interaction, in playful design, serious games (Ritterfeld, Cody, & Vorderer, 2009), pervasive games (Montola, Stenros, & Waern, 2009), including augmented reality games, location-based games, persistent games or alternate reality games (McGonigal, 2011). Interaction design and digital marketing were among the first domains in which the integration of game elements took place in a typically non-game context, with an apparent goal to motivate user activity and retention (Deterding, Dixon, Khaled, & Nacke, 2011). New concepts have emerged and have been studied, like the hedonic attributes (Hassenzahl, 2003) or motivational affordances (Zhang, 2008) of pleasurable products (Jordan, 2002). Focus on the creation of desirable user experiences has resulted into a shift of attention to playfulness, which is currently associated with pleasurable experiences and fun, or anything that goes beyond utilitarian work (Costello, & Edmonds, 2007; Fontijn, & Hoonhout, 2007; Gaver, Bowers, Boucher, Gellerson, Pennington, Schmidt, Steed, Villars, & Walker, 2004; Gaver, 2002; Huizinga, 1950).

Brown & Vaughan (2010) stated that playing is an archetypical activity, arising from primordial biological structures within a brain, exhibited even before conscience or the development of the capacity for speech. According to this study, playing is a voluntary, seemingly pointless activity, which is genuinely attractive, with characteristics that reduce the self-consciousness and the sense of time, while enhancing improvisation and a desire to keep playing (addiction). Play triggers some very interesting elements of human psychology like anticipation, surprise, entertainment, understanding, power and balance. This study also highlights that while playing new cognitive combinations are created in the brain, in the attempt of the brain to self-develop and create world interpretations.

Neuroscientists and biologists have already reported strong indications about a positive influence of play in the development of the brain in various animals and humans (Iwaniuk, Nelson, & Pellis, 2001; Pellis & Iwaniuk, 2002; Gordon, Burke, Akil, Watson, & Panksepp, 2003; Byers, 1998a; Byers, 1998b; Byers, 1999; Diamond, Krech, & Rosenzweig, 1964). In addition, Metzinger (2009) in his work on the ego and consciousness, developed a theory which sets a framework on how the ego filters the sensed objective world into a subjective reality, creating its own reality tunnel. This theory seems to be in line with the theories of play, and provides an insight on how a brain creates its own reality within which it attempts to self-develop; in a way, play could be envisioned as an inherent natural ability to explore potential realities, towards the understanding of the world and self-development. Apparently, from this point of view, play becomes a method of paramount importance in education.

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