Students take games seriously at Grenoble Ecole de Management

In a strongly collaborative environment, three MIT students help French researchers create an exciting game about technology

At the Serious Games Lab at the Grenoble École de Management (GEM), three MIT students joined a team of three French students to create a game centered on technological innovation. The goal of the project was to introduce players without science or engineering backgrounds to new, cutting-edge technologies. In addition, players would be encouraged to creatively apply these technologies to everyday challenges.

Game designer Stephanie Cheng (MBA ’15) managed the team and helped them perform under a tight schedule. Her task was to design a fun, engaging, re-playable game with mechanics that supported specific learning objectives. Armed with a background in digital gaming, Stephanie was able to approach this new medium using the skills she learned in Phil Tan’s Game Design course at MIT Sloan.

Christina Couch (M Science Writing ’15) wrote game text and created a supplemental booklet to provide players with further information on each technology featured in the game. She wrote these descriptions in language which is accessible to the general public, increasing the game’s universal appeal. Christina credits MIT’s Advanced Science Writing Seminars for giving her both the technical writing and fact-checking experience which were crucial to the project.

Game artist MyDung Nguyen (March ’18) used her design and creative skills to bring the game concepts to life. From the individual components to the packaging, MyDung had a hand in designing all visual aspects of the game. She drew design inspiration from architectural history courses at MIT and relied on lessons from studio courses to visually engage the user – all within the project’s tight time limit.

Interpersonal connections

Working in France provided all three team members with invaluable intercultural career experience. GEM’s collaborative environment and strong emphasis on interpersonal communication allowed each member to use her strengths in order to create a cohesive product. Stephanie, Christina and MyDung appreciated the chance to gain exposure to a new field in a new context. “Not only did I gain solid experience in writing for games and learning educational game design, [but] I also developed a firm basis for writing about all kinds of technology. I was tremendously fortunate to work with a phenomenal group of people who were dedicated to the project and worked hard to make it the best possible game,” said Christina.

From concept to reality

In just two short months, the team was able to complete their project: an engaging, re-playable game called Tech It! which meets the project objectives and is – happily – fun to play. Speaking to her team’s interdisciplinary approach, MyDung agrees: “Collaborating with partners outside of my own field enabled me to learn new skills and processes of other design approaches.  While our backgrounds differed professionally and culturally, a shared passion to learn, explore, and create motivated us to successfully reach our goals within the given time.” The team has already sent their final deliverables and specifications to the manufacturers and distributors. Tech It! was recently showcased at the International Games Festival in Cannes, France, this past February and will soon be for sale at the MIT Museum.