Welcome back to GDevelop's official blog! Today we have great interview for you. Valentina Perišić is the CEO & Lead project manager at Kalimera, an institution in Croatia implementing GDevelop in educational environments. Valentina will talk about why they choose to use GDevelop, the specifics of their application, results and more.
First time I used GDevelop was in 2019 before the establishment of Kalimera SME ( www.kalimera.hr). I worked on the development of a Virtual Learning Lab for the Digitize Enterprise European project. Our international project team of educators, researchers, project managers and technicians had to develop several educational games or gamified activities for the purpose of teaching entrepreneurship topics and entrepreneurial skills to young people.
As most of us did not have advanced game-development skills our coordinators from South West College, from Northern Ireland, introduced us to GDevelop as an open-source engine that does not require programming skills for game development. Thanks to their recommendation we ended up developing several types of games that showed incredible results when presented to learners and that are still being used today at both formal and non-formal education organizations.
After that project ended, we continued our professional development in game-based learning pedagogies and started developing more and more projects that produced more and more digital educational gamified resources on various topics. In the last five years, we continued using the engine for various educational resources based on gamification.
We work internationally with education, non-profit and public sectors on the development of projects related to education, youth and social initiatives. The main outcomes of these projects are innovative educational resources. As developers of creative solutions, our format in these is always a digital game with specific learning outcomes that we aim to achieve within the learners/players. The pedagogical aspect always differs depending on the topic of the project and the intended competences we wish our users/learners to foster.
One of the examples is a SWOT analysis teaching tool, which is the first game we have created with GDevelop:
The game introduces the learner to the main aspects of Strategic planning in business. It explains the elements of a SWOT analysis through infographics and then asks the player to use that knowledge in order to rearrange the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of three different fictional businesses.
Through the gameplay, the player gains knowledge of the main elements of a SWOT analysis as a tool for strategic planning in business and gains an understanding of the internal and external characteristics of a business.
Another example, also related to teaching entrepreneurship topics is an arcade game our colleagues from South West College of Northern Ireland have made. The game teaches financial management topics through 2 games. One is a typical arcade game in which player moves forward avoiding falling into the abys while receiving key information about financial management. Second game is a series of questions and answers related to the first game, and here the player must move up the screen before the floor catches them. While only the platforms with the correct answers are solid blocks.
Our latest work in GDevelop is related to the development of virtual educational escape rooms that teach active citizenship and democratic values topics to young people in Europe. The project is Escape for Democracy, coordinated by Association Europe 2020 from Spain and co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union. Kalimera SME is the partner on the project with a role to develop the games in GDevelop.
The gameplay is set in Ancient Greece and the player is asked to “travel through time” in order to discover the development of Western civilization in Greece and the birth and evolution of Democracy. The player receives vital information and is then asked to solve a series of riddles, such as finding the right entrances to a maze in Crete, deciphering a coded message on the wall of the Parthenon in Athens and finding hidden objects across ancient Greece.
Our staff is also working on creating short mobile games that enhance children’s (5-12 years old) skills related to STEM education. Children learn algorithms and robotics while playing these short games.
We also have several ongoing projects at this time in which we are working on developing educational games with GDevelop. The games are being built now and will be published by the end of this year. One is an escape room for children 5-7 years old that teaches them environmental topics (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and social inclusion values. The game is set as a series of scenes in which youngsters are kindly asked by animals with disabilities to act with environmental responsibility. For example, to recycle different types of waste in proper recycling bins my moving and dropping objects on the screen.
Currently, we are also holding an escape rooms development contest with youths (13-18 years old) in which we are facilitating them to create their own educational escape rooms on coding and microcontrollers education topics. This contest is a part of CodER Erasmus+ project, also co-financed by the European Union.
We started building games as interactive Power Point Shows as we thought that was the best we could do according to our capabilities. But as soon as we started trying out Events and Behaviours in GDevelop, using existing templates available on the basic plan and checking out GDevelop’s own tutorials we realized that it’s actually much easier to do this kind of educational resources in GDevelop than in Power Point itself. Adding a macro in PPT takes a lot more effort than adding a simple behaviour in GDevelop. On top of it, GDevelop offers more engagement and allows you to create incredible game functions with basic effort.
After 5 years we are getting more and more experienced and managing to develop more advanced resources while at the same time, our new staff arriving is able to grasp the logic of the engine with ease.
And we love doing it, making games in GDevelop is probably the best part of our work, or at least the one that does not give us any serious stress. Sure, we get a bit stressed when we don’t know how to achieve a behaviour but there are always plenty of alternatives in the engine that the short stress actually helps us to achieve something even more creative than we initially intended.
The core of our job is to come up with creative solutions with innovative elements in diverse sectors. When you have such a diverse target group with specific needs for each group or individual you can’t copy-paste any of your work and reapply it somewhere else. Every task requires us to come up with and develop something new. Whether it’s an educational course, a didactic tool or even a multi-applicable problem-solving resource it takes our team some time to research and develop something completely new and creative.
Imagine doing a workshop for 17 years old about something that is very unattractive to them. Educators usually just make a slide show with content and hope appealing images will keep learners’ attention long enough for them to learn something. But with GDevelop you can make something interactive that lets the learners become the leaders of their learning process. And it doesn’t take the educator that much more time and effort than creating slides. Inasmuch the educator themselves can really enjoy doing it and at the same time practice their own creativity and problem-solving skills.
It's not just about creating games, it’s about the freedom to use your imagination and create anything interactive that the end user will enjoy and at the same time learn from it and professionally grow.
Good time management is a very important skill to have. With GDevelop we never lose time, as it has multi-applicability. We never look at it as just a game engine, but rather as a multipurpose software that lets our creative spirit produce anything we envision.
Speaking about time management skills, for anyone out there having issues with theirs, GDevelop enabled our colleagues from Northern Ireland to create a gamified tool to help you improve your time managemet.
Check it out here: http://www.digitizeenterprise.org/stress-time-management/
For now, 4 persons in our organization are using the engine. We have recommended the engine to colleagues all around Europe, primarily our local collaborators and colleagues from Croatia as well as international colleagues from Cyprus, Italy, Spain, Estonia, Montenegro, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia & Bulgaria.
Next week we have a colleague from a local organization in Croatia coming to our office to learn how to use GDevelop, facilitated by our staff, to create an educational escape room that teaches sustainability topics to entrepreneurship education stakeholders. We also recommended the engine to their international partners that will develop several gamified resources with GDevelop on the same topic.
As our own solutions are always developed as open educational resources, we strive to use the tools of those companies and organizations that share the same values.
In order to develop the game visuals, such as backgrounds, characters, game objects and videos, we use Canva.com as it offers a free professional licence to the non-profit sector. We also use www.pixabay.com for other multimedia, such as graphics and photos, and audio files for sounds and soundtracks. When it comes to audio, OrangeFreeSounds also offers a huge database of soundtracks and audio files with the creative commons licence.
When we need characters to speak we use Voicemaker, TTSMP3 and BigSpeak which converts text to voice and generates audio files that we later add to our characters.
For the development of Escape Rooms background images, we use Sweet Home 3D software to design the layouts of the rooms.
Escape games are made as a series of riddles and puzzles the player must solve in order to escape the room so we also use free online generators that can generate coded messages in cypher, morse code, braille and similar. https://scape.enepe.fr/ressources/lipenchais/ is one of those free software that offers the provision of generating coded messages.
There is also https://breakyourownnews.com/ free online generator that generates a TV breaking news photo with any message you input.
We could go on and on about various resources out there but these are the ones most commonly used by our team.
We invite educators in all sectors to start using GDevelop asap. We know it’s hard to get out of your comfort zone but hear us out.
Learning through play is an ancient old teaching method that is proven to show much greater results than any other standard and formal method used in the education sector today. Firstly, visual learning techniques stimulate images and affect students’ cognitive capabilities, making them understand concepts easily. It is common knowledge that people can process visuals much faster than text, seeing that pictures retain in memory for a longer duration than any written text.
Game-based learning (GBL) and gamification in teaching utilize the element of play with the activity of visual learning while developing important skills in learners related to the actions in the gameplay. It creates impressive engagement within the player/learner and positively influences their imagination, creativity, problem-solving skills and critical thinking. It makes students interested in the topic and the knowledge gained through play retains in their memory in the visual form, making it hard to get forgotten.
Modernizing teaching can be done in several ways, one is intersectoral cooperation between digital media experts and education stakeholders where educators create learning scenarios and programming experts create serious games. For intersectoral cooperation, however, organizations need substantial funding.
On the other hand, GDevelop engine does not require advanced game development skills so educators and educational institutions, with a little bit of effort can produce resources themselves. GDevelop can be easily understood by persons without any previous knowledge in game development, while with practice educators can produce more and more advanced gamified teaching resources. Additional value of it all is that educators advance their own digital and cognitive skills through the use of the engine while at the same time, they are contributing to modernizing teaching through the production of innovative didactics based on visual learning and gamification.
If anyone out there in these sectors is interested in using it but doesn’t know where to begin, feel free to reach us and we will help you start! GDevelop is all about learning by doing, so don’t be afraid to venture into it. We are sure you can do amazing things with it in no time!