Dreams was released on the PlayStation 4 in February 2020 but had been available through early access in April 2019. The concept of the game is to give users the tutorials and assets to build their own video games, combining interactive learning and gamification.
This isn’t an entirely new idea though, games have been offering ‘level creator’ features for decades, but this takes things to an entirely new level in terms of customisation and capabilities. You’re essentially learning to become a game developer using a game.
Video game designers typically have a bachelor’s degree in game design, computer engineering, or computer science, which can take four to five years to complete. To try and condense this education program into an in-game crash course is a massive feat within itself, but to then see this game grow into a global community of DIY game developers sharing their assets, creations, and ideas with one another is truly inspiring – particularly at times of isolation.
The creators of Dreams aimed to build a ‘democratising force’ in video game development – offering laypeople, gaming nerd, critics, and more the chance to try it for themselves. And since many believe the best way to learn video game creation is to simply start creating, Dreams is like the PowerPoint of video game design – it offers you all the tools and resources to do it yourself, you just have to navigate the learning curve.
Interactive Customisation and Community
Dreams’ attention to details is in-depth as every aspect of the video game’s creation can be tuned within this single platform – from the level and character design to the soundtrack and gameplay options, users are essentially building from scratch.
The game/interactive learning program consists of four modes
- Dream Surfing
Dream Surfing is the traditional “play” section where a player can browse for example games to play, assets, sculptures, and art to view, or music to listen to. To reinforce the notions of community and interactivity, users can give feedback on a creation by giving a thumbs up or leaving a comment.
- Dream Shaping
Dream Shaping is where players can create games and other assets. There are numerous tools available for creation including sculpting, painting, music tools and gadgets. Users can post their content online for others to play or experience, and optionally they can tag it as re-mixable which allows other creators to use it in their creations and build upon it. It also features a cooperative multiplayer so people can work on projects collaboratively online.
- Home Space Editor
This is the central hub/playground for users. There is a limited element of Dream Shaping, where players can manipulate and personalise the Home Space by adding pre-made objects.
- Community Jam
Community Jam are themed contests where users create content based on a theme and others vote on their favourites. Winners and runners-up get badges for their creation’s page, while themes change few couple weeks.
Video Games as Interactive Education
Video games have always been pioneers in interactive learning since the development of Oregon Trail in 1971. We’ve seen gamification pervade our daily lives, from social media usage to the various app and technology platforms we use to learn and live. We borrow elements from video games to make our lives easier and more interesting.
Soldiers use video games to recruit soldiers, train them, and tread psychological disorders such as PTSD. Psychologists have also used virtual reality games to treat agoraphobia and anxiety, plus the outbreak of pandemics ensures that people can still access these services and training resources remotely. Video games and interactive learning are becoming more prominent as technology begins catching up with our imagination.
Interactivity learning is the basis of teaching remotely because the onus rests entirely on the student – they dictate their hours and approach, and it turn also learn vital life skills such as time management and responsibility.
Being able to learn remotely has always been important, but with people forced indoors and a limitation on public gatherings, now it’s critical and can no longer be dismissed as a desperate alternative.
For businesses, the ability to onboard and train staff remotely is vital as it offers a safe way to keep employees educated and connected at times of isolation. It can also save organisations a significant amount of money and resources in terms of offering personal education to staff. Online interactive education can be more easily create and tailored to different audiences while still saving time in creating and providing individual courses to employees.
Interactivity really helps clarify information and allow the viewer to explore the information at their own pace. Schools have been using interactive in various ways, such as educational games and software, livestreaming classes, and offering online testing programs.
Staying Educated and Safe
During the initial outbreak of COVID-19, parents we sent information packs and resources to help teach kids from home and ensure they could still engage with the curriculum (and other students remotely) through interactive content.
While we’ve spoke previously about the creative ways design and interactivity have been used to keep people informed during COVID-19, we came across a beautiful example of an interactive resource that is tracking the virus spread and impact throughout New South Wales. Furthermore, it was developed by students from The University of Sydney.
This interactive map demonstrates how younger generations understand the value of interactive learning resources for displaying information concisely and clearly, engaging audiences and offering them the freedom to determine their own learning experience. This map includes different graphs types, making it an interactive infographic that allows users to analyse the data and discover their own value from it.
If you’re looking to create an interactive experience in PowerPoint, we’ve got a free comprehensive guide available here. We’ve also developed some interactive elements for you to incorporate into your next interactive project. Get buttons, menus, and more here.