In the news

Educational play revealed at Abertay Digital Graduate Show

23 May 2014

The hidden educational benefits of free-to-play computer games will be revealed in a student project at the Abertay Digital Graduate Show, which opened Friday 23 May.

Laurel Gattenby, Computer Arts student, has taken the real money out of ‘freemium’ games, which have caused controversy through highly priced in-app purchases.

She wanted to show that it wasn’t the game itself that was the problem – and that children’s learning could be boosted by mixing the successful elements of free-to-play games with educational design.

Laurel’s work will be on show at the Abertay Digital Graduate Show from Friday 23-Monday 26 May. The show is free and open to everyone.

Laurel said: “I kept seeing articles and hearing fellow developers complain about freemium design. I noticed that especially in the articles, the problem wasn't the game – it was the money-leeching aspect of the design.

“People don't like to feel like they're being taken advantage of, but they usually genuinely seemed to like and want to play the game. The frustration comes from being blocked from progression within a game by expensive premium purchases.

“Educational game design has been an interest of mine for a while, so I decided to replace the aspect of freemium games that people hate with something more positive – learning.”

She added: “I've tried to highlight the best aspects of freemium design with this project: freemium games are accessible to a wide audience and draw in a lot of people who don't consider themselves 'gamers', they're addictive and fun, and they're easy to pick up and play in situations where they couldn't play games that involve more time commitment.”

In the testing of her game, Laurel found players enjoyed the educational side and were very positive about the potential to develop this approach commercially. She is now considering developing her project further after graduation.

The opening times of the Abertay Digital Graduate Show are:

Friday 23 May, 4-8pm
Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 May, 12-4pm
Monday 26 May, 9am-12pm

A video showreel of student work is available to watch online here.