As a next step in the development of my game, I am considering how my game “ends”. What is the goal of the game and how do players know when they have reached it?
As I first described in my first Story-Toy-Puzzle-(Game) blog entry, my game involves the player in scenarios that involve learning and using math skills in relate-able contexts. Embedded assessments place the player in their first scenario, make decisions regarding the pace and requirements of a scenario, and move the player along to other scenarios to assist learning. As players move through the game, they receive points or badges or some sort of recognition for achievement.
I have a few ideas for the final goal of the game and how to communicate that to the player. The goal may be different depending on who is involved in the use of the game.
- Player use directed by a teacher — When this game is used as a classroom component, the teacher determines the goal by selecting the skills to be included in a player’s experience. When the student has completed all of the skills, the goal as been met. This could be illustrated in the game as a checklist of tasks. Since each skill will be associated with a scenario, the checklist of tasks look something like the list below. A player could click on any one task and see a list of sub-tasks with completion notes, points (dollars), badges noted.
- Player as independent user — This game could also be used outside of the classroom. (A parent in a home-school situation could choose to direct instruction as described in the previous scenario or allow their child to direct their own learning.) As a self-directed learner, the player would have access to all possible tasks beginning at an appropriate level, as determined by an initial embedded assessment. Included in the sub-task list would be skills lists allowing the player to know what math skills will be encountered in each task. A player would then choose their own tasks based on interest or motivation to learn. To encourage players to attempt more tasks, a game goal would be set such as earning a set amount of money or set number of badges. Each time a player achieved more than the game goal, the player would see stunning feedback (fireworks), receive a grander title, etc. The player could earn a “key to the city” by completing every possible task.
The theories of learning I intend on using in this game are experiential and contextual. I want players to see and experience realistic situations that happen to involve math, rather than select a math skill and see how it is used. Because of that approach, I am uncertain about my goals. The underlying goal is to learn the math skills, but that’s not what I want visible to the player. So I’m not thrilled with the player as independent user seeing a list of math skills with each task. Yet, I think it will be important for the independent player to be able to choose tasks based on skills they want to learn.
Would it be better to keep this game as a teacher-managed game only? Or is there another way to present goals to the independent player that allows the focus to stay on the “story” instead of the math skills?