Serious Games about European Life Experiences

Milan (IT), October 2010 - e-VITA is a European Commission-supported project that uses multimedia to tackle serious issues related to European life experiences in a games-driven approach. Lucia Pannese, from imaginary srl in Italy and coordinator of this project explains the details of e-VITA.

e-VITA promotes and investigates pedagogy-driven innovation by defining new approaches to problem-based and contextualized learning. Furthermore, it facilitates knowledge-transfer mechanisms that integrate game-based learning with intergenerational learning concepts.

A set of four serious games designed to increase European cultural awareness by conveying the cross-border experiences of older Europeans were developed, allowing users to experience Europe in a time when strict travelling and migration rules, different economic and monetary systems, and intercultural uncertainty were commonplace.

Starting from storytelling techniques, the games draw on a pedagogically driven and participatory design process in order to create engaging and educational experiences that promote self-reflection on the achievements of the European integration process outside a formal instructional context. Communities of practice of elderly people were organized in the participating countries to gather stories. At the same time, a blog was offered on the project website to enlarge the reach of participating citizens. The same was done with some web 2.0 networks.

The four e-VITA games are based on four different methodological approaches.

The first is a narrative-based game that uses storytelling to achieve engagement and flow; in this respect it can be seen to draw on oral-history pedagogy. The topic is travelling abroad.

The next an experiential game where the player is transferred into the state of affairs faced by the narrator, and as such is influenced by situative pedagogy. The topic is the "iron curtain".

The third is a puzzle-based game in which the player has to solve puzzles and overcome challenges in order to proceed, with the narrative taking a side role. The topic is working abroad.

The last is an exploratory game focused on increasing the learner's zone of proximal development, in harmony with Vygotskyan theory of social development. The topic is how people used to organize their day at a time when current technology was not available.

The four e-VITA games, currently available in English only, will be soon online in all seven project languages: English, German, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish. The consortium is seeking feedback from students, teachers, elderly people, learning specialists, and Europeans who are generally interested in the topic.