By Courtney Kalafsky
The “Little Bird Games” lecture focused on different types of gaming and their applications, using models as part of the Brown Bag Series hosted in Mayo Concert Hall on Friday, Oct. 11.
Lucas Blair was welcomed to campus to present his work in interactive multimedia. Blair is the founder of Little Bird Games, a company that combines research and current practices in order to create educational and therapeutic games. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida in modeling and simulation, and one of his key messages was that good game design is good instructional design.
Educational games can be used to teach, to test knowledge, or to do both. Often, these games are used with younger children, as they create visuals and ways of association for the topics that they are learning. These topics can range from school subjects, such as mathematics, to outside matters, such as not digging in the grass where there are utility marking flags.
Therapeutic games are created in collaboration with psychologists and can actually be used to provide therapy. They are designed to train players to recognize their own symptoms and are especially used for treating disorders affecting large populations, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“Another great thing about games is they let you see something from someone else’s perspective,” Blair said.
It is easier for patients to see symptoms in game characters than it is to see them in themselves. Over time, “helping” virtual characters actually aids in recognizing how to help themselves in reality.
Along with digital gaming, Little Bird Games has also created board and card games with similar educational and therapeutic values.
One of Blair’s highest goals is to work with schools and other organizations to help learners achieve more at a young age. His passion for interactive gaming showed in every word he said and became more evident as the presentation continued. When displaying game models to his audience, the entire auditorium could feel Blair’s pride in his work.
Freshman communication studies major Sam Celona was intrigued by Blair’s lecture and thought it had the potential for useful applications.
“I thought it was really cool when he talked about the game that his company worked on to help soldiers with PTSD,” Celona said. “It’s a really great cause that you would never think a game could help with.”