I’m NOT sorry.

I had finally travelled to J-town and spending the time of my life with my family, and doing my best to use all the time I’ve got doing the things I love, when something really killed my mood.
I usually check my phone at the end of the day, quickly reply to the 400- something messages from groups and people on Whatsapp, go quickly through social media and make sure everyone is responded to before I sleep.

Today a friend told me that they can barely talk to me now because I don’t reply on time let alone ask about them, and that they’re very disappointed I don’t allocate time for conversation. And honestly, people have always been telling me this.

I do understand that I must keep my friendships alive and exert more effort to stay better in touch with them.
But honestly too, when I know my vacation is only a few days, I like to set my priorities straight. So to all the people who’ve said to me things like, “why don’t you reply/why are you so careless/why do you have a phone” I say to them:

I’ve grown tired of technology. I’ve grown tired of you people blaming me over and over for neglecting technology. Yes, I don’t answer calls. Yes, I reply Whatsapp whenever I have time. I do have a life outside social media, and I’m not by any means obliged to reply on anyone’s terms. No, I’m not being hostile.
I’m setting things straight once and for all. I have a lot on my mind, I like being busy and that’s how I am. During the semester, I’m loaded but I leave Thursday nights for socializing. During breaks, I make time for my family, for reading and exploring stuff.
I make sure I’m on good terms with everyone but that doesn’t mean I give people extra rights to intrude my space.

I’m tired of having to say, “Sorry, was ….” when really I’m not sorry. Why should I? This is my phone, and my life and my schedule.

So please don’t take this personally. Please. Live and let live.

The light at the end of the tunnel.. Well, almost.

So I’ve originally created this blog for academic reasons. But now that the course is done, I kept thinking, “Well, okay. Now I have 2 blogs.” – *rubs hands together*

But seriously though. I haven’t used the other one in ages. The “writer’s block” is really stretching out this time. And not writing puts me in an awful state of mind.

I feel like I have nothing to say to the world about the world. A no-comment kind of situation. Although there’s a lot that could be said.

I’m in the middle of an interesting, witty conversation in mind, and I think, “Oh, oh I should probably write th- nah, it will probably sound dumb.”

But most of the time for me, a writer’s block feels like this:

I travel a lot. But airports make me sick. No really, I’m very emotionally strained during the part of the trip where I’m inside the airport.

So I’m waiting inside one of those haunting halls for someone to arrive. Every time I see a shadow behind those glass doors, my heart races and I think “Ah they’re here!”
But it’s not them. So I think, “Okay they might be still picking up their luggage. No problem.”
I pace back and forth, eat, drink, watch other people reunite with tears of joy.. I do everything to distract myself from the fact that I’m in an airport, their plane has landed and they’re not out yet.
I wait, anticipate, wait some more, and on and on.

Writing is that someone. I know they’re here and they’ll come out sooner or later. And when they come out, I’ll forget how long I’ve waited and embrace them with wide arms. Because no matter how much I travel, I always want to have someone waiting for me when I return.

Agesناس

Nas-ages, a compound of the word Nas (meaning people in Arabic) and ages, was our game design for this module. I must first start by saying that although I’m very proud of the final product that we have today, I see a lot of ways to improve it and make it better.

Having said that, I’m satisfied yet very willing to exert time and effort to bring the game to light for the public. We started off by examining a variety of ideas and potential goals for the game that we’re designing. Some of the most prominent thoughts were: Raising awareness for issues like, smoking, child abuse, pollution. The discussions went back and forth as to how to make these themes engaging in a game format and we realized it would be challenging to come up with ways to do so in the given time frame.

We then went back and thought of our target audience: AUC students, and thought what would be a common ground for us and our community around us? We know that AUC is very diverse- we have people from across the globe with different mentalities- but we also know that at the end of the day we all need some life skills to deal with situations and people. And from here, we came up with the idea of Nas-ages. The theme would be people and the skill we wanted to develop was people skills in common life events, or daily situations. Because too often we don’t realize how different people think and feel and this creates a communication barrier between us and them. Also we often don’t realize it.

We thought that if each person got to know how their teenage siblings see the world then maybe we could sympathize with them better. If we knew why parents acts the way they do, seeing things from their prospective, we’d probably take their advice seriously (mental note to self), and so on.

And there was an agreement among the group on the idea, and the general mood was hopeful, and enthusiastic to bring new ideas to the minds of AUCians. We were inspired by the game Baladna to create a board game but we wanted to bring a slight twist to it. I surveyed some people’s response to some of my ideas on twitter. Some articles were very interesting and useful too.

10 prototyping tips

Board game design (didn’t read all of the article word for word)

Tips & tricks (Although not all of the tips apply to educational games)

Since we wanted to use recycled material, we pulled out some random stuff from our house and from campus and started experimenting with what we could do with it. Since we didn’t want it to look like a classic board, we used one side of the chips carton draw and color a maze like track where the players could play on. Then we decided to have cards that would help the players progress through the game. And the content of the card was the most challenging. We divided it to 4:

Riddles

Draw/sketchblindly

Challenges

Situation questions

We wanted to make whatever the player was going to read engaging and at the same time useful, with caution not to include the element of memorization so that the game could be played over and over. The element of time played a prominent role in shaping the way we worked on the game. Some of the cards were related to the theme and some were off topic a little bit just for the sake of variety. The riddles had answers written upside down on the back of the card.

Still, the mechanics of the game were loose. How would a player win? What would motivate people to play? How do we create a competitive atmosphere to the game? These were tied together almost at the end of the project after we got feedback and ideas from others. After a lot of discussions and actually playing the game ourselves a few times we reached the point where we could write an instructions sheet, and confidently tell others the main aim of the game and how it’s played. This required us to label the questions as easy or difficult and accordingly make changes to the time to respond to each card etc… There was a bit of controversy whether to add the element of paper money to easy questions. That is, easy questions with correct responses would get $5 and difficult ones would get $10, but this would be unfair since players don’t get to choose their difficulty as they play.

I suppose the element of time adds to the excitement of the game and the difficulties with their rewards give people a better motive to play along. On the day the game was displayed to the people, we received feedback from many people. All of it was helpful and constructive whether positive or negative. (Although the track confused almost everyone) But overall, I sensed that it was a good experience for them.

For us, it was definitely an experience worth blogging about in detail. I personally had an incredible time designing something, that I know one day could be improved and displayed in the market. I think human touch, is something that we need to work on, given the advances in technology and the gap it has created. That’s why I think the game and its purpose serve a requirement.

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Below is the multimedia Mira and I worked on relating to the syllabus:

Multimedia Syllabus

The game was designed by Sarah, Menna, Mira, Sabba and I.

Behind the scenes

It’s one thing to play a game, another to make one. Games are very broad and delightful in their making if you have many elements identified and prioritized.

In designing our game Menna, Sarah, Sabbaa, Mira and I had a stream of ideas that we were very excited to impliment- what we now know as divergent thinking.

We are targeting AUCians aged 18-22 since we will be displaying the game to the AUC community to be tried out. The game revolves around dealing with people of different age groups; mainly the elderly, toddlers and kids, teenagers and strangers.

It’s a board game with 4 different categories that each player will be tested on.

These include riddles (what we call in Egypt fawazeer), challenges, drawing blindly, and situation/priority responses. They will all revolve around the main theme and will develop skills that relate to it.

The board will be marked with the type of question that each person will be faced with and they progress through with a dice. Timing is crucial since this will determine the winner.

Each card will have a time setting that the players mustn’t exceed or else they will have to stand in their same position till the other player plays their turn.

The game could be played individually or in 2 teams.

The cards will entail directions on how to execute the challenges whether with the opposing team or in general, what to draw and using which hand, the situations that players could be faced with and limitations, and the riddles with their answers written in tiny font somewhere on the card.

The game is fairly competitive but will develop humanity skills, time management and critical thinking skills.

Let’s hope that we can help people benefit and have fun simultaneously, and that if one day the prototype was further developed and executed into the market it would be successful.

And I thought Facebook was fun..

I feel like I was in this closed bubble and I’m suddenly out into the world. I’ve had a twitter account since 2009. Not once did I feel compelled to check it as much as other social media. Till last Monday when we had to do some activities on it.

Before going into the class I was wondering how twitter could link to anything that we’re doing now- what even were we going to do on twitter?!

We were tweeting people from all over the globe about educational games and asking about their experiences with game design and what children are generally attracted to when it comes to games. When I received immediate responses from some people I was thrilled. I wanted to keep the conversation going back and forth so I could benefit as much as possible. Also finding people with similar interests or who actually specialize in game design was really exciting.

What gave me so much more hope was that a lot of them were Arab and Egyptian. These people exist!

Some people replied later due to time zones of course. But seeing their reply notification on my phone was a happy moment for me.

I also came across great articles and knew about so many happenings related to games and game design.

There’s the simulation game, Safarni, which allows children and especially underprivileged ones to experience different cultures within their classroom.

This is a Design and Development of Games for learning course by MIT, and it’s for free!

Other interesting findings were :

Seeing education in games

Gamification

Digital Games overdose

Other Dangers

Lastly we played mystery picture game, and this was my photo, asking people about the location of the writing center on campus.

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