Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

16 August 2007

A quick modeling capability test

Clark @ 7:24 AM

In the type of learning games I talk about, to go beyond branching scenarios you need to build a model. That is, a branching scenario captures the underlying relationships and consequences implicitly in the branches, but to build the underlying simulation for an engine/rule-driven game, you’re going to have to capture the relationships and causality explicitly. It’s not difficult, but it’s a unique skill set that not everybody has. And you need it to be successful in creating a design that can be documented and produced.

So, people often ask what the ‘reality check’ is for the type of person who’s likely to be able to do this. My short answer used to be anyone who programs, though that’s a much more limited set than we’d like. It’s got to be someone who can map some statements about relationships into some unambiguous representation such as rules, formulas, or look-up tables. And it typically should not be the same person who’s being creative (hard to be both the creative diverging, and the modeler converging). I thought of a better answer, however.

I think a good indicator is whether you have ever captured your thinking in a formalism. A couple of frequent ways people do this is to create a working mail filter rule, create a new macro, or build a complex spreadsheet. It’s got the same notion of capturing a relationship that programming does.

So, I guess I’d claim that if you’ve been successful at that sort of task, you’re probably capable of doing the modeling. If not, e.g. you avoid the sort of tasks I’m talking about, you should find someone else to handle that on your design team, and take the creative role.

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