Gamification Infographic

When looking at this infographic, I realized my life intersects with gamified learning at the very beginning! I grew up playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego and learning about geography on my very large desktop computer. I played Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon as simulated reality games and then played Wii Fit, too! I sort of segued away from the timeline at this point and many of the more modern games do not fit in my personal gaming timeline. However, I join back into the conversation with Minecraft because my current students love to play, so I am working on how to create learning opportunities through Minecraft that are appropriate for my classroom.

Play This, Learn That: Minecraft

I teach fourth grade and Minecraft is so popular! It is something my students would play all day, every day. The game provides an exciting opportunity for students to enter a virtual world in order to build, collaborate, and problem solve in authentic and intentional ways. Minecraft seems to me like a digital maker space in that users are given tools and a blank canvas the only limitations are their imaginations.

Minecraft.edu takes this to a deeper level for teachers by allowing them to create and save lesson plans for students. One such teacher, Jim Pike, used Minecraft with third graders to teach some basic algebraic concepts like perimeter and area as students build a floor. When thinking about Minecraft, I created a lesson plan to use Minecraft in a reading classroom.Minecraft.jpg

Gaming can Make a Better World

In her TED Talk, Jane McGonigal makes an impressive claim: Games can make the world better.

McGonigal suggests that the act of playing games is crucial not only to academic success, but global success as well. She claims that the problem solving and collaborative aspects of games within epic stories and challenging, yet attainable missions cultivate an important skill set and attitude. In this way, the act of playing the game is more important than the act of winning or completing the game.

She suggests that gamers are becoming virtuosos at four things that are important tos success outside of the game:

  1. Urgent optimism- gamers always believe the EPIC WIN is possible
  2. Creating a social network- we like people better after we have played a game with them and can develop a strong trusting relationships and cooperation
  3. Blissful productivity- when playing a game we are willing to play and work hard indefinitely
  4. Epic meaning- creating narratives and making meaning for themselves

These four traits create SUPER-EMPOWERED, HOPEFUL INDIVIDUALS. These are the people who will be prepared and able to solve the world’s problems.

 

7 Ways Video Games Engage the Brain

For this quest, I watched this insightful TED Talk about how video games have specific and interesting techniques to engage the brain. The seven ways are:

  1. Measuring progress
  2. Multiple long and short-term goals
  3. Rewards for effort
  4. Rapid, frequent, clear feedback
  5. Uncertainty
  6. Windows of enhanced attention
  7. Other people & players

These seven attributes seem effortlessly connected to teaching as they clearly reflect best practices in education. In the same way that games seek to engage users, teachers seek ways to engage learners and more often than not, there is overlap between the two. This suggests that games and gamification have a distinct and appropriate place within a classroom that seeks to engage learners.

Gamification in the Classroom

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This is a great infographic to examine when considering justifying gamification of the classroom. I would definitely agree with the skills that teachers notice through gameplay in the classroom: communication, problem-solving, collaboration, and negotiation. In my own classroom, I love watching kids test out how to work together and discuss problems and develop perseverance through games. What do you think? Do you think gameplay has a role in the classroom?

I also found it so interesting to look at the progression of the Oregon Trail game. That game seems to reach generations of learners. I teach fourth grade this year, and anytime I tell anyone I am teaching the Oregon Trail, they mention their experience within that game. I love that, despite its simplicity and level of difficulty, it resonates with learners in lasting ways. To me, that is great evidence for gamification in the classroom.

How People Learn 2

For this quest, I will be evaluating two of my peers learning theory mash-ups using John Bransford’s “How People Learn” Theory  (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). According to Bransford, there are four main elements to how people learn: Learner, which is the characteristics of the learner, Community, which is how the learners interact and the social aspect of learning, Knowledge, or what can be known and is known, and Assessment, or how feedback plays a role in learning. Through these four characteristics, I evaluated the work of Linda Boveda and Jason Ward.

Linda Boveda’s infographic can be found here. Her mash-up theory combines Constructivism and Social-Connectedness and Cognitive Connectedness to suggest that “Through gaming experiences, learners construct meaning and make social connections” (Boveda). Jason Ward created a mash-up video that can be found here. His theory connects constructivism and connectivism to witness the overlap between the two. He suggests that the overlap between construction and connectivism is that learning is social and contextual, an active process, builds upon what we know and can know, and motivation is key.

Learner: Bransford emphasizes the importance of the instructor understanding his or her learners prior to instruction. In this way, instructors can better meet the needs of their learners and anticipate the misconceptions and additional instruction they might need. Boveda’s learning theory invites students to game and construct meaning through such, so the instructor does not necessarily have this role. Maybe if the instructor places students at a certain level or tailors which games students play based on their characteristics, this would fit nicely with her theory. Ward’s theory definitely hits on learner characteristics through the emphasis on learner motivation- in order to understand what motivates learners, the instructor must know and understand their learners.

Community: Bransford suggests that there is a strong social aspect within learning. Boveda’s learning theory definitely fits within this element. Learners work together in gaming to develop strategy and compete amongst and between one another, which creates an interactive element. Ward’s theory fits within this element through the emphasis on connectivism. This aspect of his mash-up highlights how important the interconnectedness among learners is to meaning-making.

Knowledge: Bransford’s theory emphasizes that understanding what people know and need to know is fundamental to understand how people learn. He also suggests it is important to have clear objectives and targets for what the learning is expected to learn. With gaming, I think it is especially important that instructors are clear and intentional about what they want their students to know. Boveda’s learning theory definitely incorporates this element of scaffolding and clear objectives as students make meaning through gaming. Ward’s theory suggests that “the more we know, the more we can learn” – constructivism paired with “capacity is more important than what is currently known” – connectivism. This combination of the theories suggests that the most important aspect of knowledge is what can be known. It is a hopeful approach to how people learn.

Assessment: Bransford highlights the importance of assessment and feedback in learning. Games are full of regular formative assessment. This instant feedback is a great way for students to self-assess and learn as they go. It also creates a great level of scaffolding and differentiation because it only let’s them go as far as they are able and provides lots of opportunities to try again or be re-taught. Linda’s theory fits into this element because her theory utilizes gameplay to help students construct their own understandings. As they learn and develop mastery, they can advance levels at a pace that is appropriate to their skill set. Ward’s mash-up explains that learning is a process to be nurtured and supported. One way to support this process is to provide feedback as learners acquire new understandings.

Both mash-ups were really well done and provided great understanding to how people learn. Through each, I was able to more deeply consider what I do in my own classroom and how to better support my own class of learners.

 

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school.  Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

 

Second Life: Dublin

This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland and loved it! So, I was excited to virtually travel back to one of my favorite Irish cities in Second Life. Here is a taste of what I experienced:

When I first arrived, I appeared to be in a small patio, that was empty. As Celtic music filled the background, I explored. The brick buildings, small alleyways, and brick paths definitely reminded me of Dublin! The city was set along the coast of the river, and virtually walking around definitely reminded me of my trip this summer.

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When I continued exploring, I came across the Blarney Stone, a pub serving Guiness, dancing, and an all around good time. I chatted with a couple of people in the bar and they were curious about my uniform. I decided to practice my role-playing skills and pretended I was from the future and had been sent to learn about this culture. I learned they like to dance! I didn’t know how to dance, so I left.

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When I left the Blarney Stone, I found my way to a bowling alley. This was fun because there were clear instructions on how to play and join the game. I was easily able to follow them and participate in a bowling game. I was the only person in the bowling alley, but it was still fun!

Then, I went into an art gallery and explored. I ended up teleporting to a performance and somehow joining the group… it took me a little bit to learn how to un-join, but it was a fun area to explore. Again, there were instructions on how to interact with this virtual world. Dublin seems like a great place for novice second lifers because so many of the interactions come with instructions!

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After that, I walked through the outskirts of Dublin where there were lots of houses and playgrounds. Overall, Dublin is a cheery place to visit. There is great music, friendly people, lots of dancing, and helpful tutorials to teach you how to interact with this Second Life environment. As someone who still feels a little overwhelmed by Second Life, this was a great place to visit and explore!

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Milk Run

Tonight, MoodleHunterD & I went on a Milk Run! It was interesting to learn the WWII roots of the term: a milk run was an easy mission with little to no risk for soldiers. I, as a novice at best gamer and SecondLifer, found this encouraging and comforting. Reflecting on the mission, this was one of the most fun quests  I have done! MoodleHunterD had a blast exploring http://slurl.com/secondlife/Deva%20Loka/22/4/54 in Second Life collecting the following objects:

  • Basic clothing
  • Period costumes or clothing including Western, Roman, space, fantacy, Victorian, etc.
  • Structures and buildings
  • Educational or instructional tools
  • Vehicles
  • Scripts

At first, it was a little overwhelming for me to try and figure out how to put things on and find the things that were free, but after a bit, I really started to enjoy the adventure! Here is a glimpse into our journey:

We started simple with a basic t-shirt & jeans (the jeans were actually part of a cowgirl outfit that didn’t amount to much…)screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-7-44-13-pm

Then, we explored period clothing (or fantasy?) by transforming into goth-chic:screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-7-47-36-pm

At first, it was challenging to navigate through the free box- it was like we went to Goodwill and put on an entire rack of clothing at one time. Here is the process of figuring out what parts we would keep on and what we needed to take off:screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-7-53-40-pm

We found some different vehicles to stand next to:screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-7-46-17-pm

To wear (this was part of our learning process):

And eventually to drive:

We tried out a few scripts- one made me only walk sideways and one made us sit down criss cross applesauce: screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-8-26-37-pm

One of the trickier mission aspects was the instructional item as we were unsure what qualified… We eventually stumbled upon a build-your-own airplane kit! screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-8-29-32-pm

And to celebrate a job well done, we got a hot tub to relax in! (or next to…)screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-8-17-15-pm

Overall, quest: success!

 

Sploder Game Types

Within this blog page, I will explore the different types of Sploder Games and learn more about how to create my own!

3-D Mission Game Creator

This type of game begins with a mission brief that sets the scene. I liked the storyline aspect, but it did not add too much to the game. However, it seems like the storyline aspects could be fun to create for an educational game because I could create a storyline to complement our content areas. I did not like the top down view as much, either.

Basically, I was in a maze and had to to shoot bad guys and travel through a course to rescue the scientist! The controls were pretty easy to navigate,  so overall the game made sense and was easy to play. I also liked the different things that you could add to this type of game, like puzzles and obstacles. These puzzles seem to offer an exciting problem solving element, which could provide opportunities for collaboration and classroom applications as well! I wish they had an option to choose your character.

Physics Game Player

I liked this puzzle game! It seems like a fun way to reinforce ideas and teaching about physics concepts in the classroom. Basically, you progressed through increasingly difficult levels by completing a physics based obstacle. I liked that the levels got increasingly more challenging because that provides nice and helpful scaffolding for novice players.

I think that the initial instructions could have been a little bit more clear because it took a few tries for me to figure out what I was supposed to do. I also felt a little crunched by the time limit- it seemed a little short for me, so my students might need a longer time limit so they don’t experience the frustration that I did.

While I enjoyed this game, I don’t think that this is the game type for me to create- I feel a little intimidated by trying to link gaming, puzzles, and physics altogether!

Platformer

This game reminded me of a simpler and less sophisticated version of Mario Bros. I was a little monster character and traveled along a course, collecting items, beating bad guys. I like that you could add a theme and could add bad guys and level ups to match. The 2-D game seemed very logical to me because as I scrolled through the course, the character moved and progressed through the game. The graphics were simple, but effective.

However, I did think that controls were a little clunky. The jumping function arrow keys were not as precise as the small course demanded, so it would have been helpful to have a little more space between obstacles. It took me a little bit to figure out where I would land when I jumped.

I liked this type of game and it felt familiar to other games I have played before, so I might be interested in creating this type. It seems like this type of game would provide a lot of creator choice, which is exciting.. and a bit intimidating.

Shooter

Wow, there was a lot going on in this game! When I first read about Shooters, I went in expecting Space Invaders. As soon as I pressed start, my purple shooter was bombarded by 5-6 shooting space ships. I thought at first I was just supposed to avoid them, but then realized the space bar let me shoot at them. I don’t think I was a very efficient or effective player of this game because I just spun around and slammed on the space bar repeatedly. It seemed difficult to have a strategy or a defensive plan with this game type. It was very simple, as even with my lack of strategy and any real skill, I still was able to win the game.

The robot game was more challenging and allowed for more strategy. I liked that with the robot game, I did not feel as bombarded initially and could develop a little more strategy, but I again did not like the top down view style. It was interesting to have more weapons to choose from and be able to try out different ones for different scenarios.

It might be fun to create this type of game, but I would want to make a side-scrolling game that was not as overwhelming initially. I would also want to make sure that there were options for a defensive as well as offensive strategy.

Retro Arcade Games

This is definitely the type of game I am most interested in creating! It was so fun and reminded me of the classic Mario that I played growing up. I liked the scrolling style, cute graphics, and that you could collect coins and bounce off the bad guys head. This simple, fun game fits my style and seems most like what I want to create. I thought the helpful notes were nice because they provided helpful instructions on how to play as I went along. If you paused the game, it also provided helpful hints to get you back on track. I liked that you could choose your own character, too. This game seemed similar to the Platformer game, but I enjoyed this one much more- the game design certainly added to my enjoyment.

What makes a good game?

  1. Visuals- I think that appealing visuals and graphics are important to a good game. For example, I loved the graphics and colors of the retro game much more than those of the platform game and thus, enjoyed the game much more!
  2. Challenge- if the game is too easy, it is boring. Yet, if the game is too challenging, it is unaccessible. The game needs to be appropriately challenging, but there should be different levels to accommodate for different players’ ability. (Puentedure mentioned that if a game is too challenging, players often become uninterested in uncovering the patterns that make the game make sense because they don’t care enough. The challenge becomes irritating ‘noise.’)
  3. Levels increase in difficulty- Piggybacking on the challenge element, levels should increase in difficulty the longer you play. This type of scaffolding allows players to gain confidence and have an increased challenge the longer they play.
  4. Clear directions & purpose- as a novice gamer, I really appreciated clear instructions on how to play. I think a clear mission or aim of the game is also really important. Just as important as knowing how to play, is knowing the point of playing.
  5. Simple, effective controls- sometimes the controls of these games were clunky and difficult to manage, which increased my frustration and decreased my enjoyment of the game.
  6. Variety- doing the same thing over and over again gets boring. Having a variety of options for success and failure keeps the game player on their toes.
  7. Storyline/Immersion into the virtual world- I think that the storyline of the game allows for increased engagement if the character can get into the virtual world of the game. A good game draws the player in and makes them care about the world they are playing through.

When I listened to Puentedure’s podcast, I was impressed that many that I mentioned, he also mentioned. One thing that stood out to me when considering challenge was that Puentedure mentioned that people do not like to play games where there is no chance of failure. I think this is an interesting idea to consider because failure in education is a touchy subject because people encourage teachers to help their students experience success. However, if what makes a good game is the existence of failure, then it seems games could be an effective way to teach kids about how to fail and what to do with failure.

After this work, I created my own Sploder game! Try it out:

References

Puentedure, R (2009, July 7). What makes a good game? [Podcast] Retrieved from http://itunes.apple.com

The History of Video Game Graphics

I grew up not playing too many video games. I was much more interested in playing with dolls or playing basketball outside. When I was about seven, we did get a SEGA Dreamcast and I did enjoy playing a few games at local arcades and with friends. As I watched the video A Brief History of Video Game Graphics, I was able to recognize and reflect on a few different games I played as a child:

Pong: I played this game with my dad as a kid. When we first got our SEGA, he was so excited to show me this simple air-hockey like game that he had played as a kid. He was so impressed with the transformation of video games from what they used to be to today.

PacMan: I do remember playing this game at different arcades growing up, and then into my college years as a fun throw-back to early gaming experiences. There was a pizza place in my hometown where you could play PacMan (it was set into the table) for free while you ate.

Super Mario Bros: I remember playing this game with my brother and cousins at my aunt’s house- that little song brought back a lot of memories of us fighting over turns and competing for higher scores.

Mortal Kombat: This game was popular with my college roommates- I was never too strategic, but really enjoyed (and sometimes randomly successful) with my aggressive and quick button smashing!

Ridge Racer: Almost every soccer party I ever had was at Round Table Pizza, where they had a small, but awesome arcade. My favorite then, and now, was always the racing games. I loved pretending to drive before I could drive a real car. Good thing I’m better at real life driving than video game driving…

Mario-Kart: This game was one of my best friend’s favorites, and she would have Mario-Kart parties frequently. I was terrible, but have really fond memories of coming together with my friends to play and race each other.

Call of Duty: I played this to attempt to impress my high school boyfriends. Looking back, my lack of skill does not seem like it would be impressive…

Wii Sports: I loved Wii Sports! This game was interactive and so much more interesting to me than traditional video games.

Rock Band: I also liked Rock Band- the interactive piece again appealed to my active needs. One of my most fun NYE parties from middle school was an all night Rock Band tournament!

Grand Theft Auto: This was the absolute calling card of my college roommates. They would play for hours, passing the controller around and getting cheats from the internet, like one time they were able to get a helicopter that could be called on command.
Wow, that was a longer list than I was expecting going into this quest. It was really interesting to explore the progression of video games throughout the years and remember the different stages through the games that were important.