Monthly Archives: April 2016

LDT Admit Day

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 10.55.25 AM.png

Volunteered this morning to be part of the “Welcome Comitee” during Admit Day for the the new LDT cohort. The event serves as an opportunity for those students who have not yet decided if they will accept their offer from Stanford yet, or simply for those who want to meet others who might come to the program.

Made me reflect briefly on how much I have learned since the start in late September, 2015. It is actually so much more than I expected… I really didn’t know how much I didn’t know… how vast the educational and learning science fields are… how many niche areas exist… how efervescent this market is in the Bay Area…

Very exciting for the new cohort – such a pitty that we don’t have a chance to meet all of them or oficially work or have classess together.


Engineering Education – Week 2.1 – Summary


  1. Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M., & Zubek, R. (2004, July). MDA: A formal approach to game design and game research. In Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Challenges in Game AI (Vol. 4, p. 1).
  2. Schell, J. (2014). The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses. CRC Press.


I’ve developed mobile apps in one form or another for the past 16 years – from WAP to iOS. These apps were mostly utilitarian and far removed from games. Considering how creating a great user experience was complex and challenging, I’ve always said that games is the most daunting task a development team can undertake. From a technical standpoint, the numbers of variables, mechanics, and rules are enormous and all interconnected. From a creation standpoint, one must envision a whole set of complex interactions between the user and the interface. From a design standpoint, it has too look great!  On top of that, you must take into account the emotional nature of the user interaction with the game. All this requires skills and knowhow that only comes with years of practice – just like teaching.

The readings were extremely helpful in organizing and categorizing some of the considerations, possibilities, and methodologies required when creating a game. The MDA Framework shows how the interaction path of the game developer and the player is opposite, illustrating one of the complexities and iterative nature the game design process can be.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.38.55 PMMethod |  Dynamic | Aesthetic

Schell then expands the arsenal by walking us through the several possible lenses we can look at games, the players, their interactions, and even how to improve them. The level of detail we can go into when looking at games is amazing.

How might we new apply these frameworks, insights, and mechanics to education? Can we gamify teaching? If we look at education as a game, could we create better learning experiences for the teacher, the learner, and society? All I know is that we must keep playing this ‘game’ of education, continuously trying to overcome obstacles, making it better, more efficient, and more effective. Can we ever win? We certainly cannot lose.

Engineering Education – Week 2.1 – Reading Notes

Hunicke, R., LeBlanc, M., & Zubek, R. (2004, July). MDA: A formal approach to game design and game research. In Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Challenges in Game AI (Vol. 4, p. 1).

  • Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics (MDA) Framework
    • Formal approach to understanding games
    • Facilitate the conversation between developers, scholars, and researchers.
    • Bridge the gap between game design and development, game criticism, and technical game research
  • Components:
    • Mechanics describes the particular components of the game, at the level of data representation and algorithms.
    • Dynamics describes the run-time behavior of the mechanics acting on player inputs and each others’ outputs over time.
    • Aesthetics describes the desirable emotional responses evoked in the player, when she interacts with the game system.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.34.21 PM.png

  • Games
    • More like artifacts than media
    • Purchased, used, and then cast away – consumable product
    • “From the designer’s perspective, the mechanics give rise to dynamic system behavior, which in turn leads to particular aesthetic experiences. From the player’s perspective, aesthetics set the tone, which is born out in observable dynamics and eventually, operable mechanics.” (Hunicke, LeBlanc, & Zubek, 2004, p.2)

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.38.55 PM.png

  • Aesthetic Models
    • Sensation: Game as sense-pleasure
    • Fantasy: Game as make-believe
    • Narrative: Game as drama
    • Challenge: Game as obstacle course
    • Fellowship: Game as social framework
    • Discovery: Game as uncharted territory
    • Expression: Game as self-discovery
    • Submission: Game as pastime

Schell, J. (2014). The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses. CRC Press.
(Read Chapter 8 Psychographics section & Chapter 10: Mechanics 1-5)

Chapter 8 – Psycographics

  • Demographics : Psychographics
  • LeBlanc’s Taxonomy of Game Pleasures
    • Sensation: using your senses
    • Fantasy: using your imagination
    • Narrative: sequence of events
    • Challenge: problema to be solved
    • Fellowship: social
    • Discovery: pleasure of new things
    • Expression: expresse your self / customize characters
    • Submission: leave one world, go to another, submit to its rules
  • Bartle’s Taxonomy of Player Types
    • Achievers -> Challenge.
    • Explorers -> Discovery.
    • Socializers -> Fellowship.
    • Killers -> not well mapped… competing, defeating others, imposing themselves on others, helping others
  • Not all inclusive: “destruction” and “nurturing” not well mapped for example

Untitled presentation.jpg

  • Pleasures to be considered
    • Anticipation
    • Delight in another’s misfortune
    • Gift Giving
    • Humor
    • Possibility
    • Pride in Accomplishment
    • Purification
    • Surprise
    • Thrill
    • Triumph over Adversity
    • Wonder
      • and the list goes on…
  • Lens #17: The Lens of Pleasure
    • Questions to ask yourself:
      • What pleasures does your game give to players? Can these be improved?
      • What pleasures are missing from your experience? Why? Can they be added
    • Ultimately, the job of a game is to give pleasure.

Chapter 10

  • Mechanic 1: Space
    • Game spaces
      • Are either discrete or continuous
      • Have some number of dimensions
      • Have bounded areas which may or may not be connected
    • Examples
      • Tic-tac-toe
      • Connected areas
      • Nested spaces (Indoor / Outdoor)
      • Zero dimensions (question/answer games)
    • Lens #21: The Lens of Functional Space
      • Space with no surface elements
      • Questions:
        • Is the space of this game discrete or continuous?
        • How many dimensions does it have?
        • What are the boundaries of the space?
        • Are there sub-spaces? How are they connected?
        • Is there more than one useful way to abstractly model the space of this game?
  • Mechanic 2: Objects, Attributes, and States
    • State machine
    • Secrets
      • A: completely public
      • B: 2 & 3 know, 1 does not
      • C: only 1 knows
      • D: games knows, not players
      • E: randomly generated information (Fates, God, etc.)Untitled.001.png
    • Lens #22: The Lens of Dynamic State
      • What information changes during game and who is aware of it
      • Questions:
        • What are the objects in my game?
        • What are the attributes of the objects?
        • What are the possible states for each attribute? What triggers the state changes for each attribute?
        • What state is known by the game only?
        • What state is known by all players?
        • What state is known by some, or only one player?
        • Would changing who knows what state improve my game in some way?
  • Mechanic 3: Actions
    • Operative actions: move checkers forward
    • Resultant actions: protect another checker
      • Very strategic
      • Not part of the rules per se
      • “Most game designers agree that interesting emergent actions are the hallmark of a good game.” 

    • Planting seeds of emergence
      • Add more verbs: related operative actions, but don’t overwhelm user
      • Verbs that can act on many objects: shot not only enemie, but other things
      • Goals that can be achieved more than one way
      • Many subjects: not only one chekcers, many
      • Side effects that change constraints: checker’s move changes gamespace
    • Lens #23: The Lens of Emergence
      • Questions:
        • How many verbs do my players have?
        • How many objects can each verb act on?
        • How many ways can players achieve their goals?
        • How many subjects do the players control?
        • How do side effects change constraints?
      • Stories vs Games
        • Endless possibilites vs. limited actions
      • Allow for all verbs
        • Massively multiplayer games: Second Life
    • Lens #24: The Lens of Action
      • What players can do, what they can’t, and why.
      • Questions:
        • What are the operational actions in my game?
        • What are the resultant actions?
        • What resultant actions would I like to see? How can I change my game in order to make those possible?
        • Am I happy with the ratio of resultant to operational actions?
        • What actions do players wish they could do in my game that they cannot? Can I somehow enable these, either as operational or resultant actions?
  • Mechanic 4: Rules
    • Most fundamental mechanic
    • Rules:
      • Operational: what can you do in the game
      • Foundational: inform operational rules
      • Behavioral: unwritten rules of good sportsmanship
      • Written: no ones reads them -> in-game tutorials
      • Laws: tournament rules
      • Official: merge written rules with the laws
      • Advisory: tips on game mechanics
      • House: feedback, adaptation of gameplay to contextUntitled.001.png
    • Modes
      • Rules change in different modes
    • The Enforcers
      • Traditional games: players themselves
      • Computer games: the game
    • The Most Important Rule
      • Rule that is at the foundation of all others
      • The Object of the Game: explained simply and clearly
      • Chess
        • “Capture the opponent’s King”
      • Good Goals
        • Concrete
        • Achievable
        • Rewarding (look at Lens of Pleasure)
    • Lens #25: The Lens of Goals
      • Appropriate and well-balanced
      • Questions:
        • What is the ultimate goal of my game?
        • Is that goal clear to players?
        • If there is a series of goals, do the players understand that?
        • Are the different goals related to each other in a meaningful way?
        • Are my goals concrete, achievable, and rewarding?
        • Do I have a good balance of short- and long-term goals?
        • Do players have a chance to decide on their own goals?
    • Lens #26: The Lens of Rules
      • Look deep – most basic structure
      • Questions:
        • What are the foundational rules of my game? How do these differ from the operational rules?
        • Are there “laws” or “house rules” that are forming as the game develops? Should these be incorporated into my game directly?
        • Are there different modes in my game? Do these modes make things simpler, or more complex? Would the game be better with fewer modes? More modes?
        • Who enforces the rules?
        • Are the rules easy to understand, or is there confusion about them? If there is confusion, should I fix it by changing the rules or by explaining them more clearly?
    • Game design/invention process
      • Operational rules
      • Foundational rules
      • Written rules (end)
  • Mechanic 5: Skill
    • Skills
      • Physical Skills
      • Mental Skills
      • Social Skills
    • Real vs. Virtual
      • Player vs. Character
    • Enumerating Skills
    • Lens #27: The Lens of Skill
      • Look at the skills asked of players.
      • Questions:
        • What skills does my game require from the player?
        • Are there categories of skill that this game is missing?
        • Which skills are dominant?
        • Are these skills creating the experience I want?
        • Are some players much better at these skills than others? Does this make the game feel unfair?
        • Can players improve their skills with practice?
        • Does this game demand the right level of skill?


LDT Seminar – Week 1 – Notes

Nice to see everyone again and to hear about all the progress people are doing with their projects. As for my project, I think I am going to stick with the original LXD idea rather that Graph Learner. Let’s see how it plays out – going to talk to Karin and Paulo about it. Have to consider how the nature of the project is aligned with my future career goals and life objectives.

Formed our ‘peer review’ groups again which will start sharing project updates next week. Main deliverables for this quarter: design a test procedure for your Master’s project and try it out. Yikes. Getting closer and closer to the real deal 🙂


All Electric Week

1. Adriana’s tricycle is still going strong with no problems, as Kim attested:

2. Tesla launched the new Model 3, priced at US$ 35k, before rebates. Very nice… dream car.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 5.06.56 PM.png

3. Took my bike to the shop and came out with the Specialized Turbo bike to test for 2 days. Very cool guys at Calmar Cycles!

The ride is amazing – you feel like superman zooming by even the fastest road bikers. Unfortunately they limit the top speed to 28 mph (45 km/h).


4. Not to mention the constant sightings of Google’s self-driving electric car!

Internship – Week 1 – Notes


Had a great update session with Grace going over the comments I had on completing the To Do list items, what to do next, and quite a bit about my Master’s project. This will be a great opportunity to understand how I could better serve the needs of online instructors.


Early in the morning the LDT students who are doing internships this quarter met with Karin. Shared out what each one is doing, questions, support, and check-ins. Amazed by the variety of things people are working on. Virgin Airways, Google, Alt Schools, d.School, and Canter Museum to name a few.

In the afternoon went to VPTL and continued down the To Do list…

VPTL – Weekly Event

Participated in VPTL’s weekly update meeting. Was fascinated to understand more about their role on campus, which ranges from setting up the classroom’s technologies all the way defining the course evaluation and teacher assessments all students and all professors on campus use. The latest change occured last quarter where professors are now able create custom questions to better understand how well their course is perceived by the students. A general question about meeting the learning objectives of the course is placed for the students in case the teacher does not customize the question.


Internship @ VPTL

One of the requirements to getting the Master’s  degree at LDT is to get internships over 2 quarters. This quarter I am going to work at Stanford’s Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning (VPTL), assisting Grace Lyo, Associate Director of Instructional Design of the Digital Learning Design Team. 

We will be working on updating and creating content for the “Designing Online Learning Experiences at Stanford” (DOLES). The course “was created to guide Stanford faculty and staff members through the process of creating online learning experiences. This includes full online courses, flipped/blended courses, instructional resources, and more.” 

Already started on the first day of class and now ramping up the production – very excited since it is very well aligned to my Master’s project.

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 2.15.02 PM.png

And here’s my office, with a full standing desk and rotating monitor to edit long texts!!