Scaffolding Understanding by Redesigning Games for Education (SURGE) explores the integration of popular game play dynamics with research from the learning sciences, psychology, science education, and computer science to support players in developing robust understandings of core scientific and analytic concepts and processes. 

Digital games generally have simulations at their core. Well-designed digital games help players construct productive mental models for understanding and operating on those underlying simulations. Well-designed games leverage (1) engagement and affective investment, (2) consequential action and meaningful play, (3) implied principled stances and perspectives, and (4) approachable entries and guided trajectories to develop this understanding. 

SURGE explores the designs through which these affordances are leveraged. We focus specifically on designs to support players in explicitly articulating the intuitive understandings they develop through game play in terms of more formal representations, concepts, and processes. To support this explicit articulation, we are exploring the integration and implications of research from the learning sciences, psychology, science education, and computer science


The original SURGE project, now called SURGE "Classic" was headed by Doug Clark at Vanderbilt University and Brian Nelson at Arizona State University. SURGE has received multiple rounds of funding from the National Science Foundation. Brian Nelson and his team at ASU acted as the designers and developers for the original SURGE games.

ASU PhD students on SURGE Classic included Kent Slack, Cynthia D'Angelo, and Muhsin Menekse. 

Artwork for SURGE Classic was created by ASU undergraduate student Bryan Nelson.



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