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Accepted Contribution:

A prototype, which prototype? exploring tensions in using digital prototyping tools in video game projects  
Laureline Chiapello (University of Québec in Chicoutimi, Canada (UQAC))

Short abstract:

This presentation aims to explore the tensions in video game projects regarding the use of prototyping tools, comparing digital ones (Unity, Unreal) and analog ones. It will demonstrate how they can complement each other to enhance learning by doing.

Long abstract:

This presentation aims to explore the tensions in video game projects regarding the use of digital prototyping tools. Even though the literature tends to favour playable digital prototypes in a game engine (Salen and Zimmerman 2003, Fullerton 2008, Schell 2008), my experience as a creator and educator suggests the need to develop other tools. Drawing on data collected from university students’ game projects since 2017, as well as from my research-creation projects, I aim to demonstrate the necessity of reevaluating the concept of a video game prototype.

Indeed, even though students may not encounter major difficulties when programming an initial version of their game, many regretted commencing work in the game engine too early and devoting excessive time to it. Conversely, some students developed more modest prototypes in an analog manner and had a more rewarding experience.

Adopting a pragmatic approach, it is crucial to reestablish the interplay between facts and ideas at the core of prototyping. The tools must be “symbolic”, as Dewey (1938) suggests, enabling the construction of a “virtual world” (Schön, 1983)—a space in which it is inexpensive to experiment.

In conclusion, I will present two analog tools: the pitch for game designers (as opposed to marketing) and the balanced systemic diagram. These tools aid in clarifying ideas, planning the realization of the playable prototype in the engine, and establishing validation criteria. Most importantly, they enable practitioners to generate new knowledge regarding their own actions, thereby fostering a conscious process of learning by doing.

Combined Format Open Panel P285
Exploring the tools and uses of prototyping: investigating how knowing by doing takes shape
  Session 1