Towards a Role-Playing Game Procedural Dungeon Generation Strategy to Help Developing Working Skills

Towards a Role-Playing Game Procedural Dungeon Generation Strategy to Help Developing Working Skills

Esteban A. Durán-Yañez (Tecnológico Nacional de México IT Aguascalientes, Mexico), Mario A. Rodríguez-Díaz (Tecnológico Nacional de México IT Aguascalientes, Mexico), and César A. López-Luévano (Universidad Politécnica de Aguascalientes, Mexico)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2325-4.ch015
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This chapter describes the insights towards a proposal to integrate a procedural content generation strategy in a computer role-playing usable and accessible learning video game for gaining replayability to encourage engagement and motivation in learners. In order to explain the contextual issues of the topic, the chapter includes a discussion on how computer role-playing video games impact the skills considered crucial for the work in the future—abstraction, system thinking, experimentation, and collaboration—emphasizing the importance of usability and accessibility to ensure effectiveness of the proposal. A first approach of a computer role-playing video game is presented to provide an illustrative example. The prototype will serve for future evaluations with people for usability and accessibility.
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Role-playing is an activity that has been present in the development of the human being since the beginning of civilization, and nowadays takes several forms, including video games, that has become the biggest entertainment industry and has proved to be an important tool for education.

Video games for learning represents a power alternative to develop useful skills and competencies in students (Barr, 2018). Engagement becomes video games an effective learning tool which may be potentiated by blending it with face-to-face approaches, it seems that said strategy do enhance student motivation and can be associated with behavioural change (De Freitas, 2018). In this context, a “critical component of an engaging game is delivering content to player with incrementally increasing the challenge” (cited by Adellin, Khuan, & Gertrude, 2019, p. 1); this concept is strongly related to the concept replayability or reply value, which broadly speaking consist in provide gamers the possibility of continue playing a game after its first completion (Adellin, Khuan, & Gertrude, 2019). One important tool to give video games replayability is the use of procedural content generation (PPG), which is currently popular in industry since is suitable to generate several elements of video games with high cost-benefit value, these elements include the construction of levels for platform games, and dungeons (Volkmar, Mählmann, & Malaka, 2019).

Replayability could enhance the experience of players in role-playing video games for education but it is very important to reinforce said strategy with usability and accessibility aspects (Darin, Andrade, & Sánchez, 2018). In this scenario, traditional usability aspects (Nielsen, 1995) should be complemented by including important aspects in such as mobility, multiplayer interactions, enjoyability, fun, satisfaction, storyline, customization, social connectivity, multimodal interaction, among others (Yanez-Gomez, et al., 2019). The goal of usability in this context is to provide user-friendly environments that foster learning in a more attractive, intense, and challenging way to help students in learning a variety of complex skills and abilities (Slootmaker, et al., 2018). Additionally, role-playing videogames should consider the configuration and functionality of the interface within the same game, and control over scenarios (dungeons) and main and secondary characters (Lee & Song, 2019).

Accessibility lies in the same level of importance; in fact, a product cannot be called usable without consider accessibility basics in its design process. As explained in (Bierre et al. 2005) “While specific needs vary from person to person, the common issue is the same. The need to address accessibility in gaming is real. The number of people interested in gaming transcends age, gender, income, and disability. The disabled are often misunderstood and underestimated in terms of potential and participation”. Accessibility directly affects players experience and, therefore, to the effectiveness of the video game’s purpose. Designing accessible video games include devices for control and interactions with user interface (Compañ-Rosique, et al., 2019). Related to said requirements (Tyagi, Choudhary, & Majumdar, 2019) found three families of accessibility issues that players currently face: (1) Don’t receive feedbacks; (2) No identification of in game responses; (3) No way to provide the input from the various input devices used. In this way it is necessary to have strategies, approaches, and/or tools that result in video games that can be enjoyed and played by people independently of their skills to operate or perceive things in order to them feel included (Cairns, et al., 2019). (Smith, & Abrams, 2019) particularly explained said general context of video games accessibility from the vantage point of educational perspective, emphasizing that the gamification of learning procedures should foster equity and access to instructional materials for all the students including those with auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech, or visual disabilities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Education: Process which aim is to achieve the learning of a student, this can be measured as skills, values or knowledge that will help the student take the best possible decision in similar tasks reviewed in the educational system.

Video Game: In computer science, a game is a software that typically include graphical, sound, text and other multimedia combination aiming to simulate a real or unreal world situations to entertain the players in a single or collective way.

Procedural Content Generation: A set of tools and methods that helps game developers the creation of sceneries algorithmically instead of manually. For example, if you have a set of three types of traps (mood, ice or fire) and you choose to put random traps in a narrow space like an aisle the software must be capable of adapt the space and the trap type and react according to the character approaching it.

Indie Game Studio: It is an abbreviation of “independent game studio”. This is a company that typically have fewer economic resources than a well know brand. However, many times an indie development disrupts the common constraints imposed by the market and the players achieve better experiences due the development of new technologies or styles.

Replayability: When a player has achieved all the goals of a game, if the game offers alternate endings, secret missions, additional characters, increasing scores and rewards or any other mechanism that keeps the interest of continue playing the game is called replayability.

Artificial Intelligence: According to many authors, artificial intelligence can be hard to be described, but we can reduce it to two actions: (1) a set of technics and methods used to allow any device to perceive its environment and make decisions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals, mimicking a living being brain. (2) Capability of a machine to learn and perform narrow, repetitive and/or delicate tasks, for example an IA focused in predict words according to the context of the writer and previous sentences will not be able to predict the amount of money a person will spent next year.

Flow: In terms of gaming, flow is a state of fulfillment where the player feels the game is in optimal conditions for his own level of experience, not too difficult nor too easy, increasing the loyalty and sense of personal achievement. There is an entire theory constructed around explaining this concept, it is not only limited to the field of games, any human activity can be described in terms of passion and boringness, concepts that are the pillars of this construct.

Character: Is the complete simulation of a being (a person, an animal, an imaginary creature, etc) inside a computer game, this may include the ethnicity, height and weight, gender, psychological, cultural and regional properties, skills and abilities, dressing styles among other features. The equivalent in the real world would be an actor inside a theater play. Some characters are playable, and others have the purpose of give information, be the enemy or simply allow the player a better immersive experience of a simulation.

Game: Is the proposal of a fictional scenery that includes the goal(s), a set of rules and the structure of the development and the quantity of players per game (single person or by teams). A game can be played for fun or with educational purposes due the real-life simulation inside it. It can also represent unreal situations.

Role Playing: Is the action of taking a certain job or activity inside a group of beings (teacher, student, janitor, policeman, etc.). Talking about games, it means specifically becoming a character inside a simulation. In computer science role playing will be selecting a certain type of warrior, agent, scientist, driver, or any other job description the game needs. The main purpose of taking a role in a game is develop the skills the character have, and make easier the task needed to achieve the games goal.

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