Over recent months, everybody’s favourite cattle rustling based research project, BrainQuest, has gathered some momentum.
Earlier in 2015 BrainQuest mobile app (and myself) faced the biggest test to date: letting the game loose upon a class of 30 children at Craigour Park primary school for 5 weeks as part of the project’s first intervention. Anybody within earshot would have been forgiven for thinking that there had been a bovine breakout from a local farm, such was the disconcerting symphony of cattle noises projected from the school astroturf. However, upon closer inspection, the only fugitives on the run and farmers giving chase were the children themselves, playing in the game roles of ‘cattle rustlers’ and ‘cattle owners’.
After the difficult first game tutorial week of the intervention which presented several unforeseen technical challenges, during the remaining weeks and observation sessions, rumblings of interest built towards a crescendo of enthusiasm for many participants and even from curious teachers. This led to an informal post study game session involving the children, their parents, and class teachers, in which everybody got a chance to hear more about the project…but I believe the real attraction of the session was a justification for (very) big kids to relive those precious playground years, and all in the name of science.
So what about the study itself? Well with the help of leading lights within the ‘Children and Technology’ group, Professor Judy Robertson, Dr Andrew Manches, and Eder Paula, I was able to gather a great volume of mostly qualitative but also some quantitative data – from observations, to data logs of in game performance. The key question. Is there quality among the quantity? Well I’m nearly finished the data analysis and I believe that there is enough quality data to form the basis of more than one paper each showcasing distinctly different, yet tantalizing, outcomes. In fact the first paper is due to be written for mid-October, so at this point I shall not yet leak any surprises but stay tuned. In spite of this, from the perspective of all parties involved, the study was a very rewarding experience and most of all FUN! During one of session, the children also filmed a short video about the project, directed by PE teacher (and hopefully BAFTA Winner elect) John Mowbray. As a climactic outro to this post, I leave you with that very video of BrainQuest in full song:
By Stuart Gray
For more information about Stuart and his work please click here.