|Abstract:||This doctoral study concerns itself with developing a transdisciplinary, critical game design approach. In this study, I developed a game design approach which can be used to create video games that encourage a transdisciplinary approach towards problem solving. I developed and demonstrated this approach through a video game, Hexostasis, which I specifically made for this study. In Hexostasis, I fused conventionally separated disciplines and their practices through a curation of discipline associated thinking strategies. These disciplines and practices include design problem and activity centered design from the area of design, abstraction and decomposition from the area of computer science, and critical play from art education.
I examined both the success of my approach and my game, which is an applied example of my game design approach. I used design based research as my methodology in which I used a mixed methods approach during data collection and analysis. As design based research focuses on an iterative process, I developed a total of three iterations of Hexostasis throughout the span of my PhD studies. I studied the first iteration as my pilot study which informed the second iteration. I later used that iteration in my main study, which then informed the design of the third iteration of the game.
Following my main study, I came into the conclusion that my approach is successful in creating transdisciplinary, critical learning experiences that are not didactic. I showcased that, with such an approach, video games can further be leveraged as informal learning spaces. While I formed my transdisciplinary fusion of my practices around design, computer science and art education, this design approach is not limited to those areas; it can also be used to evoke any thinking strategy or practice. Therefore, I explain that a puzzle video game can evoke the different thinking strategies and practices that are set around multiple disciplines if games are approached as systems. This is also how I created a transdisciplinary experience where multiple game elements serve for multiple strategies simultaneously. I conclude that this approach can be considered in four levels: First, having a multilayered structure where multiple game elements are connected through sub-systems within the overall game system is essential. Second, the game must have simultaneity where it enables its players to experience multiple game events or elements that are connected to the disciplinary practices. Third, a game should provide dynamism where players can experiment and experience the results of their interactions. Finally, to create a transdisciplinary learning space, a video game should find common ground between the disciplines it is targeting. This also helped me to bring design, computer science and art education together, while creating the multilayered structure, simultaneity, and dynamism within the game environment using mechanics, narrative, and other game elements. To sum up, this study contributed to multiple areas of both game design and art education. This study and Hexostasis will further contribute as an informal, educational game design guide for multiple fields.