2006 Game On

M. Carbonaro, M. Cutumisu, H Duff, S. Gillis, C. Onuczko, J. Schaeffer, A. Schumacher, J. Siegel, D. Szafron, and K. Waugh, Adapting a Commercial Role-Playing Game for Educational Computer Game Production, GameOn North America, September 2006, 54-61. abstract or pdf.


Educational games have long been used in the classroom to add an immersive aspect to the curriculum. While the technology has a cadre of strong advocates, formal reviews have yielded mixed results. Two widely reported problems with educational games are poor production quality and monotonous game-play. On the other hand, commercial non-educational games exhibit both high production standards (good artwork, animation and sound) and diversity of game-play experience. Recently, educators have started to use commercial games in the classroom to overcome these obstacles. However, the use of these games is often limited since it is usually difficult to adapt them from their entertainment role. We describe how a commercial computer role-playing game (Neverwinter Nights) can be adapted by non-programmers, to produce a more enriching educational game-playing experience. This adaptation can be done by individual educators, groups of educators or by commercial enterprises. In addition, by using our approach, students can further adapt or augment the games they are playing to gain additional and deeper insights into the models and underlying abstractions of the subject domain they are learning about. This approach can be applied across a wide range of topics such as monetary systems in economics, the geography of a region, the culture of a population, or the sociology of a group or of interacting groups.