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SGS 2006: "New Ways to Assess in Game Actions..."

New Ways to Assess in Game Actions and Guide in Game Communication
Elaine Raybourn, Sandia National Laboratories
Randy Brown, Virtual Heroes

In an open-ended environment, how can we (serious games designers) guide player interactions and foster free play which focuses on strategic communication and emergent outcomes aligned with intended learning principles?

Why simulation experience design? Experience design solutions require that designers understand what makes a good experience first, and then translate these principles, as well as possible, into the desired medium without the technology dictating the form of the experience.

Personas are hypothetical archetypes often used to identify the needs of a single user in a scenario , and therefore focus one's design goals (Cooper, 1999).

Designing from the "interaction out model":

  • Interaction (dynamic content, personas, roles: players) ->
  • Narrative (scenarios) ->
  • Place (game level) ->
  • Emergent culture (assessment, feedback, and AAR)
All of this is centered on an intercultural communication framework.

Demonstrated the Adaptive Thinking and Leadership (ATL) tool built for the JFKSWCS at Fort Bragg.

[T]his application is being used by Special Forces Soldiers at Fort Bragg for training which encompasses role-playing negotiation (soft skills training). In the application soldiers take part in online virtual events which include cross cultural communications scenarios with indigenous people.
Based on America's Army, up to 10 players (students), plus others who are evaluators. No NPCs -- all roles played by humans. Voice masking is used.

We think that this approach can be used for all sorts of soft skill training: corporate training and education, patient/doctor communication, intercultural for K-12, social change, diplomacy, crisis resource management, pharmaceutical sales training, chaplain and religious services.

What's next from in-game assessment?

  • Physiology
  • Cognition
  • Communication in context (communication apprehension, emotions, non-verbal expressiveness)
  • Serious games design feedback
  • Training
Demonstrated a wireless headset that (EmSense) that has the ability to measure mental and physical activity / stress (using GSR, heart rate, eye blinks, etc.) and then feed this information into the simulation for display during AAR.


  • Adopt a "parenting approach" to design: enable others to own and modify the environment
  • Integrate game design, writing, player interactions, narratives, actions, intended goals, new in-game assessmeent and feedback, and dynamic visual and auditory content in a training game system to create a shared place and foster emergent third culture through community ownership

Q: Have you thought of feeding the physiological information back into the simulation in real time?
A: Yes, we have. The Army is interested in automatic escalation of events, i.e., applying more and more pressure as the system starts to fall apart. Do this automatically so that the system isn't so dependent on how good the instructor is that particular day.

Q: How did you account for differences in resolution between computer displays and the human eye?
A: We don't right now. We can't account for everything.

Q: How can your simulation be authentic if you have soldiers playing the roles of host nationals (i.e., indigenous people)?
A: Many of the instructors in role-playing positions have returned from the field and have experience with host nation cultures and practices. Also, when available, we have host nationals play these roles, but this isn't typical.


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Also heard of this wireless sensor technology on Weekend America. They posted it online at:

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