NTAE: "Leveling Up" - NMSU Learning Games Lab Feature Story

“This team’s ability to take something as complex as food safety and the mitigation of food borne illnesses … will positively impact the food safety industry for years to come.” —Dr. Dawn Mellion, NTAE Catalyst

The team also benefited from regular meetings with their EXF Catalyst and a team of Key Informants, who encour- aged self-reflection, asked helpful questions, and provided Extension expertise. The regularly scheduled meetings ensured that the NMSU team tracked their own progress and consciously recorded milestones. “The EXF team was incredibly encouraging and supportive!” Cezarotto said. “We felt like they were our cheerleaders.”

There are also lessons to be learned from the Learning Lab’s earlier NTAE collaboration with University of Connecticut Extension to develop “Unpeeled,” a mobile app that helps consumers understand food labels. (Read about that app and its development process in “Navigating the Grocery Store Aisle: Understanding Non-GMO and Other Food Labels.” Learn about the process the team used to design “Unpeeled” in Collaborative Design in Extension: Using a Modified Game Jam to Explore Game-Based Learning.) While “Unpeeled” was only a playable prototype, “Theme Park Kitchen” will be a fully designed game, freely avail- able for web-enabled devices after an October 2023 soft launch. Check the team’s social media accounts— @NMSUProductions (Twitter) and @LearningGamesLab (Facebook and Instagram)—for links to the game. ■

Lessons for Extension

The “Theme Park Kitchen” team has much to share with their Extension peers across the nation, including how to priori- tize accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion in design. “We’ve developed practical, research-based frameworks to help Extension design media for inclusion,” says Dr. Pamela Martinez, researcher and learning technology specialist. “The frameworks provide a common vocabulary, guiding questions, reflection points, and recommendations.”

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