Monday, October 01, 2007

Kathleen Hansen and Nora Paul presented their modding work of Neverwinter Nights at the 2006 EDMEDIA conference. Along with programmer, Matt Taylor, they created a game called "Disaster at Harperville" for their course, "Information for Mass Communication" at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. The game is designed to reinforce information gathering strategies and encouraged such things as message analysis, evaluation and selection of gathered information, synthesis of the information and crafting messages. If you are interested in modding Neverwinter nights for educational purposes, this conference paper is a must read as it discusses the details of modding including the problems they encountered. Kathleen and Nora do a wonderful job of assessing the game as a learning object and also discuss their next steps. They plan to move beyond the Neverwinter Nights environment into an Open source platform which will remove some limitations. In the NWN environment they were concerned about the inability to share their modification to a wider audience who might be interested in using it as a learning aid. One interesting and unexpected outcome they discuss was the students' reaction to the game world library:
...their favorite part of the game was the library! They mentioned how helpful
the librarian character was and how rich the information resources were. If this
kind of appreciation of a virtual space could translate to off-line behavior and
use of the library, this would be a wonderful unintended outcome of the game.

Paul, N. & Hansen, K. (2006). Disaster at Harperville: The modding of Neverwinter Nights to teach journalism students the strategic steps in information gathering. In E. Pearson & P. Bohman (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2006 (pp. 1954-1959).