Published on July 19, 2009
Full paper SimP in review Victoria Weatherall Dr Khyla Russell Kairakahau Kaitohutohu Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin NZ Dr Samuel Mann firstname.lastname@example.org Information Technology Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin NZ vweatherall, email@example.com Abstract 2.1 2006 Justification The SimP project is a multiyear collaborative project SimP is a large scale initiative: M ori Game Design, or that aimed to convey and strengthen M ori culture, tikaka M tauraka whenua, moana, t kata ki te rorohiko. and knowledge using innovative and cutting edge The project aims to convey and strengthen M ori culture, technology. In short, the project aimed to provide a tikaka and knowledge by initiating a process of means of telling M ori stories in 3D game format. This participatory M ori digital media design using 3D game paper provides a review of the project. technology. This development will have benefits in terms of both The project recognises that M ori culture is a vital part of technology and culture and the fusion of these two: Iwi what distinguishes New Zealand from the rest of the digital content. The project has achieved this through world. It is intended that the project will assist in the active engagement and participation. creation of 3D game-based M ori digital content so that Keywords: M ori, computer education, culture, distinctly M ori voices, stories and cultural content can indigenous, game based learning, participatory be encouraged and promoted. development This development will have benefits in terms of both technology and culture and the fusion of these two: Iwi 1 Introduction digital content. The project will achieve this through This paper is an initial review of the recently completed active engagement and participation. It will: SimP project. 1. Develop a process of participatory game development SimP , first described by Mann and Russell et al. (2006) for M ori cultural content was a collaborative partnership between the Otago 2. Development of SimP toolkit to enable 1 (above) Polytechnic and K Papatipu R naka o te tai o Araiteuru. The project aimed to convey and strengthen research 3. Develop structures for use of resultant GameP aspects in regard to M ori culture, tikaka and knowledge 4. Develop a new subject area and capability: that of using innovative and cutting edge technology. The training digital storytellers funded project was completed in May 2009. Note: SimP is shorthand for the whole project; GameP The contribution of this paper is to provide an overview refers to the developed game for each individual r naka. of the project from two perspectives – that at the start and end of the project. Visual representations are used to There are three major justifications for this project. provide structure for this analysis. 1. The risk of M ori knowledge being lost due to the reduction of hap knowledge repositories. 2 2006 Intentions 2. The well publicised negative statistics of educational The text here is summarised from previous papers (Mann outcomes for M ori. and Russell 2006). Although edited for space, the substance remains the same. 3. Consequent to (2), lack of skilled practitioners of M ori digital content. This dual need, of content and capability is recognised by Iwi as both a limitation and an opportunity: This quality assured paper appeared at the 22 n d “…communication technology is providing new avenues Annual Conference of the National Advisory for our people to be enriched and contribute to our Kai Committee on Computing Qualifications (NACCQ Tahutanga regardless of time and location.” (p17 Ng i 2009), Napier, New Zealand. Samuel Mann and Tahu Vision for 2025, and Vision for 2025). The Michael Verhaart (Eds). Reproduction for academic, importance of M ori digital content is also key to the not-for profit purposes permitted provided this text Government’s Digital Strategy: is included. www.naccq.ac.nz 133
M ori culture is a vital part of what distinguishes New Zealand from the rest of the world. ICT can be used to help create the conditions for the realisation of the diverse forms of M ori potential. It is crucial for the future of M ori and of New Zealand as a whole that distinctively M ori voices are encouraged and promoted (p9) It is important for New Zealanders from all walks of life to be able to create and use their own digital content in order to create value (social, cultural, and economic) for themselves, their communities, and our nation. (p12) M ori are both creators and consumers of content and distinctively M ori content is particularly visible in the areas of: broadcasting; the arts and creative industries; as well as the education, health, and business sectors including tourism. M ori digital content is important not simply for its economic potential, but also as a vital means of expressing M ori culture in today's society and into the future, strengthening M ori society and identity, telling M ori stories to other M ori, and communicating with the wider world. Hence the importance of content being created and maintained in the M ori language. (p12) 2.2 2006 Model This project brings together two components: the stories and the computing. By uniquely combining these aspects, a combination of benefits are made available that could not be accomplished by other means: • Increase recognition, value and access to history and narratives of local r naka • Give local r naka a unique narrative tool (one that Figure 1: W naka process of participatory game appeals particularly to younger generations). design. • Provide a virtual meeting place for wh nau spread nationally and internationally in which they can interact Objective 1: The development and testing of a in their own landscape. participatory approach to game development. (Figure 1 • The project will involve generations of M ori in top middle) gathering information and stories, encourage the It brings together people from within the Papatipu preservation and creation of local M ori stories, increase R naka who will jointly learn about their own place and the attractiveness of history to younger audiences and stories, and convert this knowledge to digital form. make M ori culture, mita (dialect) and tikaka accessible throughout the world. Objective 2. Develop a software tool for creating specific M ori virtual environments: the “SimP toolkit” ~ he Figure 1 provides an overview of the SimP process. A kohinga o ng mea rauemi. (Figure 1 top left) key component of the project will be a series of marae- based w naka. Each w naka will be kaupapa M ori and Objective 3. Develop and test tools for the use of games participants will be immersed in tikaka M ori. in teaching M ori concepts. Participants will learn about the traditions, environment, This encompasses specific research on the effectiveness people and history of that place from local R naka elders of digital game based learning in a M ori context – use of who are experts in M ori oral history and local the GameP (Figure 1 middle). knowledge. Using the “SimP Toolkit”, participants will work alongside the R naka members and supervisors to Objective 4. Develop techniques and practices for the create a “GameP ” (a virtual environment representing a further use of GameP (Figure 1 lower). place). Based on the knowledge of R naka members, The resulting games will provide an interactive learning participants will define the landscape, environment, and environment for use within each Papatipu R naka. It is features of cultural significance, such as food gathering expected that this will enhance their m tauranga M ori, sites. enable individuals to connect and have respect for their landscape and historical stories. Each game will be the intellectual property of each Papatipu R naka and 134
provide an indigenous tool for future development in version of the story, it is quite acceptable for you to tell education and M ori business. We believe that this another version. integrated model - using a resource that is interactive, The software and equipment participants were educated online and multiplayer - will provide measurable benefits in was Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Torque for individuals, whanau, hap and Iwi. engine gaming software, digital equipment handicams, Objective 5: Develop a new specialist area in education: still cameras and data management of such equipment. M ori digital content However we found that for most people the prior skill level and time needed to master the Torque software was We are developing a programme aimed at capacity too great for the time we had to work with them, also building within indigenous people. By combining cultural participants wanted to see quick results so we ended up knowledge with skills required for developing digital having to hire a computer programmer to help R naka game based learning resources, we hope to initiate a complete the work that required use of the Torque pathway to encourage careers in this area. This will software. provide career opportunities in education, information technology and business (Figure 1 right). Objective 2. Develop a software tool for creating specific M ori virtual environments: the “SimP toolkit” Objective 6. Develop a process of adoption of this (Figure 2 left) initiative beyond the collaborating partners The “SimP toolkit” was created. This includes a suite of This collaboration is not just between a single group of software packages and game templates. At the end of the stakeholders, but involves complex structures of project, however, the “toolkit” is more about a process of knowledge ownership. An important part of this initiative engagement. The SimP toolkit has been much more is the development of processes maintaining the integrity about process – partnerships of ideas and capabilities – of specialist knowledge and tikanga (Figure 1 lower). than about the technology. The R naka all decided to work individually and nominated representatives to lead 3 Review their respective projects. This aligned with the scope that The SimP project was funded in 2006 by the Digital the R naka members would define what information was Strategy through the Department of Internal Affairs. The important to them and how their resources would be project was completed in May 2009. produced. All R naka representatives communicated with their members to keep them informed on the project Figure 2 provides an overview of the process from a 2009 and had the ambition of producing resources that would perspective. be beneficial for all members. Objective 1: Participatory approach to game While the project was explicitly funded on the promise of development (Figure 2 top). game-based narratives, the Team spent a very great deal The objective of bringing people from within the of time engaged in wider knowledge – and wider Papatipu R naka who will jointly learn about their own applications of digital technology. For, example, one place and stories, and convert this knowledge to digital R naka has had a long held special role as archivists for form has been achieved. All R naka engaged in the the Iwi. They saw the potential for SimP to help with process of developing digital M ori content through a this role. Before the Team could sensibly talk game series of w naka. environments, they spent time helping the R naka with editing and sustaining existing media. The linear flow of the SimP development represented in Figure 1 has been very much more organic in practice. Integral to the process was developing an Intellectual Policy that ensured the R naka owned the rights to all The recreation of the landscapes (the first stage on the their knowledge and narratives including the complete original process) had a fundamental impact on the GameP . R naka. Without exception, the engagement at that stage was sufficient that further development (of the game Objective 3. Use of GameP in teaching M ori concepts environment) was unnecessary. No groups developed (Figure 2 middle). characters with scripted behaviour, in all; the landscape is The uniqueness and process of the project saw the the foundation of the story. The R naka have had some R naka produce specifically tailored resources. In the extremely interesting debates about digital representation original funding application the GameP were described of images. For landscapes the debates are sometimes using deliberately ambiguous terms. This was to allow pragmatic – how to represent an area one group insists each R naka to tell their own stories. However, we did was always grassland whereas other families remember expect the project to focus on the original GameP and playing in the forest that once stood there. For people that these would be “games”. We anticipated these and stories, we need to recognise that there is rarely an GameP to be developed as robust products (along the objective truth. As the stories become older, the lines of a packaged game). We also thought further representation of a single image in a digital setting benefits would come from the use of the GameP in becomes problematic – just what did this ancestor look marae-based teaching etc. None of the GameP would be like? In part this was avoided by not having direct considered “games” yet these benefits did occur with characters, but also by recognising that this is “our” most of the R naka actively using their GameP for “virtual tours”. 135
Figure 2: SimP at completion 136
What we did not expect was the form of the GameP to in w naka, and in the learnings of the SimP team itself vary so much. Resources were produced such as complex (Figure 2 right). narratives that use the game environment as “film sets” To ensure access to information specific to the creation and virtual landscapes combining the game environment and production of resources a w naka was held for all with other digital media – primarily audio and video. R naka members. As expected (based on prior research) While the stories are hosted in the game environment, this the attendees were teenagers and very enthusiastic about was used as a platform for further engagement such as the information technology. Parents and supporters viewed recording and production of documentary style interviews this w naka as an opportunity for the rakatahi to learn and that share stories of the past and present. None of the develop skills that can ensure the continuation and further five R naka GameP could be considered “games” development of such resources. Some of the R naka are although all have made extensive use of the 3D gaming actively using SimP to connect with their youth. Other environment. These resources give access to the training and w naka that were held also provided matauraka that they convey as well as the knowledge opportunities for participants to develop their ecapability. used to create them. They also provide a means of access for members regardless of their location in the world. The partnership has evolved significantly. The most important change was a realisation that to achieve the Objective 4. Develop techniques and practices for the use outcomes the SimP team had to be indistinguishably of GameP both Otago Polytechnic and Iwi. The most successful In addition to surprise at the form of the GameP , we also capacity building has been of this evolving team. We see did not expect the R naka to move so quickly to using the this as a very positive outcome. The project has taken far skills learnt through the SimP developments to develop more partnership negotiation than we ever imagined. further applications (Figure 2 lower). This has been constant and evolving. We believe that this model of engagement could be the model for further The measures of success can be viewed not only by the partnership. physical outcomes and ongoing use and production of further resources, but by the actual process of Objective 6. Develop a process of adoption of this engagement and dialogical exchange itself. The best initiative beyond the collaborating partners thing to come from the SimP project is the initiatives This collaboration is not just between a single group of beyond the original GameP . This demonstrates a very stakeholders, but involves complex structures of successful community adoption of digital media. These knowledge ownership. An important part of this initiative initiatives have included both game environment form is the development of processes maintaining the integrity and video form of GameP , but put to quite unexpected of specialist knowledge and tikanga. (Figure 2 lower uses. right). The subject matter has extended beyond the traditional Otago Polytechnic has also developed a proposal to use stories to include contemporary narratives: the story of GameP to connect M ori living overseas back to their Puketaraki’s new carvings, and Moeraki’s expedition to R naka that they are currently seeking funding to Te Papa. develop further. This project will use virtual realities of The relationship between SimP and landscape was people and places of t puna acting and interacting in further explored by the t kou r naka who used it in these virtually created spaces. Kai Tahu people far from visioning wetland restoration to reform mahika kai. home can access these histories and te reo of their places; of ancestors and their deeds; of how to give this new One of the final phases of the project is the ‘handing over knowledge to their children, many of whom have never of both raw data and finished products’ before we set foot on these landscapes. evaluate and write conclusion papers. There has been surprise shown nationally and internationally (Russell and R naka are currently in discussion with the Ministry of Mann 2007) that we were leaving the stories with the Agriculture and Fisheries and local R naka about using respective Papatipu R naka. The assumption is that a the GameP format to create an interpretative resource for project such as ours results in a contribution to a central Mahika Kai. archive. We have taken a very different approach: we Further collaboration between Otago Polytechnic and the have helped the R naka retell their stories to themselves. eW nanga Centre for Creative Teaching and Learning Te In their new form they are still knowledge transmitted Whare W nanga o Awanui rangi is also in the pipeline. and retained within each R naka. Objective 5: Develop a new specialist area in education: 3.1 Conclusions M ori digital content “SimP ” aims to integrate participatory digital We had intended developing a specialist programme of interactive storytelling with M ori culture, tikaka and learning aimed at capacity building within indigenous knowledge. The SimP project uses gaming software to people. A Iwi Digital Practice Diploma programme was create various ‘GameP ’, which are virtual environments developed and approved but did not run. based on actual places. These environments incorporate the knowledge of R naka members, recreating sites of We believe, however, that a new subject area is emerging. cultural significance and historical environmental features This is apparent in the involvement of R naka members that have since changed with the passing of time. The 137
outcomes of this project were the completion of GameP knowledge e.g. telling migration histories, recording and narrative films incorporating digital content with Te their oral histories, describing cultural, traditional and R naka o t kou, Kati Huirapa ki Puketeraki, Te botanical education; kai M ori and karakia and tikaka and Runanga o Moeraki, Hokonui R naka and Ng ti Awa. for memorial purposes. This has required the project team Topics included migration stories, the virtual recreation to be adaptable and resourceful to adapt the original idea of a wetlands restoration project and local oral histories. to fit the needs of the communities. This has been essential for the project’s success. The team have also Looking back, SimP is quite different to how the team needed to adapt their approach to work not just with first conceived it. Despite these differences, or perhaps R naka but also with different whanau groups within the because of them, the project has met their expectations. R naka. One of the main lessons learned from this project is the need to abandon a linear flow to accommodate a process The future usefulness and sustainability of the SimP that is very much more organic. process is assured through the new projects both the Polytechnic and R naka are currently pursuing. At the start of the project the team proposed a process of participatory development for each R naka. For each It is evident that there is a need to develop and offer group they saw a process of helping the community different models of teaching and learning. Models that identify important stories and then converting these vary in content, specifically iwi digital content, and stories to a game-based environment. Of primary structure. A flexible structure and delivery that will be importance to the original project was the “SimP beneficial for community users. eg: w naka, marae based toolkit”. However the SimP toolkit has ended up being teaching, flexible hours, units etc. much more about process – partnerships of ideas and capabilities – than about the technology. In addition the 3.2 Acknowledgements development of each GameP has been quite different to This collaborative project is developed as a result of the what we expected. None of the five R naka GameP Memorandum of Understanding between Otago could be considered “games”. All though have made Polytechnic and these R naka. This MOU is instantiated extensive use of the 3D gaming environment. in the position of the Kaitohutohu and the K miti It was hoped that the resultant GameP would be used in K wanataka. The SimP team has immensely enjoyed engaging and educating the community. The original goal working with the following individual R naka, and the for “Sustained interactivity” would be the use of these committee of the combined R naka of Arai te Uru. GameP with R naka’s work with schools and possibly x Te R nanga o t kou in tourism ventures etc. The intended target for the x K ti Huirapa ki R nanga ki Puketeraki project “teenagers dis-engaged from both their culture x Te Runanga o Moeraki and education” proved hard to hit. However the team had x Hokonui R naka Incorporated Society most success with people in with young families (widely We would also especially like to acknowledge Kelly recognised as crucial for cultural development), the very Davis from one of the key partners Te Matauranga young, and the more mature. Some of the R naka, Putaiao Trust who died suddenly as the project got though, are actively using SimP to connect with their underway. Kelly was a key figure in the project and is youth. However the use of SimP as recruitment tool for sadly missed. students into computing did not occur. While the Team believe there is still a role for the “M ori digital education Te R nanga o Nag i Tahu head office has also been very specialist” it is difficult to see a predictable career path helpful in the SimP project. We are grateful for the into this. assistance of (then CEO) Tahu Potiki and especially the GIS expertise of Jeremy King. The project has taken far more partnership negotiation than the team ever imagined. This has been constant and We have also enjoyed working with Ng ti Awa, evolving and is a model of engagement for further facilitated through Te Whare W nanga o Awanui rangi. partnership. The most important change was a realisation The SimP team has evolved over time. The authors are that to achieve the outcomes the SimP team had to be grateful for the support of Paul Admiraal, Jenny Aimers, indistinguishably both Otago Polytechnic and Iwi. The Leigh Blackall, Amber Bridgeman, Justine Camp, most successful capacity building has been of this Sunshine Connelly, Mark Crook, Rachel Dibble, Dougie evolving team. The team sees this as a very positive Ditford, Evelyn Davis, Gwyn John, Marlene McDonald, outcome. Karen Love, Alistair Regan, Thomi Richards Lesley Because of the partnership approach SimP has evolved Smith, Dana Te Kanawa, Andy Williamson, Jeanette dramatically since its conception. R naka determined that Wikiaira, Vicky Wilson and members of the K miti the landscapes should become a major focus; the K wanataka. participants were so excited by the process of re- imagining and re-building the landscapes that the notion 4 References of the game format became less important. What is happening now is that they are using these elaborate 3D Mann, S., K. Russell, et al. (2006). M ori Game Design. environments as film sets, as a way to tell narrative 19th Annual Conference of the National stories. Each group has decided on a different approach Advisory Committee on Computing using their GameP to record a range of traditional Qualifications, Wellington, New Zealand, 138
NACCQ in cooperation with ACM SIGCSE. 165-174 Ministry of Economic Development (2005). The Digital Strategy: Creating Our Digital Future. Retrieved March 1, 2006 from http://www.digitalstrategy.govt.nz Ng i_Tahu (2003). Ng i Tahu 2025. Christchurch Russell, K. (2008) Two Cultures: Balances, Choices and Effects Between Traditional and Mainstream Education, Oxford Round Table, Oxford, England. Copy of the full paper online here http://computingforsustainability.wordpress.com /2008/08/18/SimP -as-a-model-of-partnership/ Russell, K. & Mann, S. (2007) Worlds Colliding: participatory storytelling and indigenous culture in building interactive games. ICHM Conference, Toronto, Canada. 24 - 26 October. http://www.archimuse.com/ichim07/papers/man n/mann.html 139
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