Game Development Directory

Throughout this semester I’ve been developing a game idea. To make it easier to find all of my blog entries related to my game idea, I’ve created this directory entry. Below is a list of the blog entries including links and a description of each entry.

  1. Learning Theories Mash Up — These two entries describe the learning theories I consider most appropriate for the type of learning that will occur in my game.
    Initial Post and Update
    Follow up post
  2. My (Story) — First thoughts about my game idea and the storyline behind it.
  3. My (Toys) — Two ideas for toys, or mini games, related to the larger game idea.
  4. My (Puzzles) — Two ideas for puzzles related to the toys that make a stronger connection between the toys and the larger game idea.
  5. My (Game) — The identification of the game’s goal, depending on the type of user, and how the storyline ends.
  6. Unobtrusive Assessment — A description of how assessment will be embedded in the game so as not to detract from the gaming environment but allowing for robust use of data to set a player’s learning path.
  7. Math Game Scenario — A description of the beginning of the game — how students will enter the game, get “into” the storyline, and receive their first tasks.
  8. Game Flow — A diagram showing a player’s movement through the game from entry to completion.



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Unobtrusive Assessment

One key feature to my game idea is to use unobtrusive assessments. Involving players in some sort of obvious test activity at the beginning of the game would eliminate the possibility of a player approaching this game as a game. It will be obvious that this game is a learning activity, a school task, not a game. So it is important that assessment throughout the game is done in the background. Players will not know that the game is pulling data, making inferences, and re-shuffling the learning environment “deck” to serve up the next activity the player will need in order to succeed.

In order to be successful in the game, players will have to understand and be able to compute within the base-ten number system. If they can’t, the first tasks will involve concept-based activities that feel like a game but get at the concepts underlying the base-ten number system. Once they are in that game, their actions in the game will serve to assess their understanding. The data resulting from their actions will build upon each other fine-tuning the data-based inference results.

But before they can be placed within any of the tasks/scenarios of the game, some minimal assessment needs to occur. I need to consider several questions before I can determine the type of task that would provide the data needed to determine a player’s understanding of the base-ten number system. These questions include:

  1. What do people do in everyday situations that show their basic understanding of the base-ten number system?
  2. What are the important elements in these situations?
  3. What do people need to know and do, beyond manipulating mathematical symbols, that is related to the base-ten number system?

Using some guidance and an assessment planning tool from, On the Structure of Educational Assessments [1], I created the following diagram to show my thinking around the initial assessment. The basis for the initial assessment idea comes from Gersten and Chard [2].


[1] Mislevy, R. J., Steinberg, L. S., & Almond, R. G. (2003). On the structure of educational assessments. Measurement: Interdisciplinary Research and Perspectives, 1(1), 3–62. doi:10.1207/S15366359MEA0101_02

[2] Gersten, R., & Chard, D. (1999). Number Sense Rethinking Arithmetic Instruction for Students with Mathematical Disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 33(1), 18–28. doi:10.1177/002246699903300102

AECT Standards

1.1 Instructional Systems Design
One key aspect to designing an instructional system is knowing what you want the student to learn. Once you know that, the next step is to plan the assessment. The assessment is the “bones” of the system. Without it, you can have wonderful activities that go completely astray and go around the mastery of the skill you wanted the student to learn.

1.3 Instructional Strategies
It is important to be aware of foundational skills in mathematics. Number sense skills are the foundation to math, much like phonics skills are foundational to reading. Knowing this, you know where the “fall back” position is. If students struggle in any area in mathematics, number sense is suspect.

2.3 Computer-Based Technologies
Embedded assessment is an exciting possibility with computer-based technologies. Technology is great at collecting data and, following programming rules, use the data to guide user experience. “Data-based decision making” is a high priority in education and technology can make it easy and effective.

My (Story) – Toy – Puzzle – Game

Wave interference, South Island, NZ

Wave interference, South Island, NZ (Photo credit: brewbooks)

The main goal of EdTech 532 is to develop an educational game. As a step towards that goal, I’m reviewing others definitions of games and considering the storyline my game will follow.

In general, the game I have in mind involves students interacting in a world similar to their own real world with some non-real-world surprises. On their quest, students will encounter problems that can be solved using math. The problems are ones they would face in a normal day or involve topics and/or careers they are interested in.

When students need to learn a new skill for which they have no previous knowledge, a quest will be served up that will provide pictorial, contextual experience. As students develop skills, they will have more choices within the game. Similar to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” story, students will be allowed to choose from a set number of paths. The number of options, challenges, and the complexity of those challenges increase as the student’s knowledge-base increases.

The storyline for these quests will be partially dependent on the student. Student choice of avatar will define some initial quests and their choices will allow them to create their own story path. Students will be able to change their avatar during the game which will alter their storyline.

This game will be geared to middle-school students, so the avatars/characters will relate to areas of common interest to students of this age. Some characters I’m considering are a rocker, an athlete, a fashion designer, and an animal trainer. In addition to these characters reflecting middle-school students’ interests, they provide opportunities for a broad range of real-world mathematical applications.

I’ve started collecting a few images to convey what my game might look like. Take a look HERE.

Chris Crawford defines a game as “an interactive, goal-oriented activity, with active agents to play against, in which players (including active agents) can interfere with each other.” (Wikipedia) What I have in mind fits this definition with one exception. I don’t have plans for players to interfere with each others progress in the game. This may change, but, for now, my thinking is that interference may not contribute to the educational value of the game. Students will interact with each other and with characters in the game. If “interfere” is interpreted in a broader sense that would include players collaborating with each other, then my product fits in with Crawford’s game definition.

Chris Crawford has published a document about computer game design via Scribd. I have embedded this document below. I will use this document to help me further develop my game idea.

AECT Standards

Standard 1–Design
As I review documents and articles related to game development, my knowledge of instructional design is both broadened and refined. My experiences with a smaller subset of digital learning is being expanded while my understanding of what is educationally beneficial refines my view. This process is like using a sieve to collect a desired item. In the end, I’ll have a magnificent collection of educational building blocks to create a game that will engage and expand student learning in an efficient and effective way.

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