Saturday, August 2, 2014

Edugaming Workshop 2014 - A Reflection

Every summer two professors at the local community college hold an Edugaming workshop.  Mary Rasley and Steven Weitz received a grant from NSF to do this.  You can tell they are both very passionate about what they do and you can't help but be swept away with their enthusiasm.  They have it set up so that you work hands-on and listen to presentations for four days during the summer as you begin to create a game that you could use in your classroom.  A few months later we all come together again to present the games we created and used with our students.  But wait...there's more!!  Just this past year, the grant was extended (is that the right word?) so that their computer programming students would take our physical games and make them digital.  If you've been following my blog you are aware that I took advantage of this opportunity to have Bounty Hunter: Rise Up and Run become a digital game.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Today we had an excellent speaker, Stone Librande.  You can visit his website here, but I have to warn you, once you go there, you may never want to leave.  Stone seems to believe in doing to learn, and of course he was right.  We started the Workshop by playing games with people we barely knew.  However, after playing some games with them we formed a bond.  We knew each other's names, we were cheering each other on, and we were learning about game design.  If you are interested in the game Stone took us through, you can learn more about it here on his website.

He spoke to us more about game design and shared a few examples.  I left the workshop feeling inspired and motivated.

One image I want to share (thank you desmos) is what gamers call "Flow".  I created this image to share where you want your students to be, in the dark blue area.  If you have a student represented by the purple point, they're probably bored, the material is too easy.  A student represented by the orange point is frustrated, because the material is too hard.  But a students represented by the black point, is in flow.  This student is working on material that matches his skill level. Mr. Librande recommended creating games that grow with the student.  As the students' skills increase, then the challenge of the game increases and vice versa.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stone was there to present in the morning session.  For this, he went over 19 Games in 19 Years.  You want to be inspired to create a game?  Listen to him talk about the games he has created.  Here is a link to 15 Games in 15 Years.  The writer of that article has listed some of the tips that Mr. Librande shared.  I looked at the faces of my cohorts as he was speaking and you could tell we were all in awe of what he has done and created.  If you didn't leave his presentation wanting to take on the gaming world, you weren't paying attention.

Here are some notes that I took:

  • Create games with your students
  • Make rules around the pieces
  • Give pieces personality
  • Create characters with special powers (ex. a witch who can put a time limit on another player)
  • Give players something to fiddle with when it's not their turn
  • Consider having two victory conditions (this or that)
  • Asymmetric rules and game (players have different rules)
  • All players think at the same time, then everyone executes at the same time
  • Technology is good enough to create your own game pieces
  • Design from a title
  • Let players "play" as themselves
  • Follow the fun (watch the players and notice when they're having fun)
  • Play-by-mail game
  • Make your own personal games, "I'm going to make a game to play with YOU."
    • Think small
    • Think long term
    • Challenge yourself

Since there were quite a few math teachers in attendance (almost half) he walked us through a probability lesson.  It was powerful to participate in this activity because we were asking each other questions that you would never see on a worksheet, we were having fun, and we were a little competitive.  Well, I was a little competitive.  I wasn't able to find any links to this activity on his website, so I will try to share what I remember from this activity in a later post.

In the afternoon we were led by John Nardone, an English professor at LCCC.  He walked us through a writing exercise and spoke to us about story elements in a game.  This was the first session where we were specifically asked to think about our game project.  We were encouraged to have a game that included a setting and a goal condition.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The morning session was led by Mary Rasley and Steven Weitz.  They have created a framework, or step-by-step model, to help us created educational games.

  1. Identify a specific concept to reinforce (very narrow)
  2. Analysis:  Break the concept into its component parts
  3. Consider the essence of the knowledge those components represent.  In other words, what is the meaning of each part?
  4. The essence becomes the core gameplay using the components
  5. Determine what the user experience (UE) will be.
  6. Build the rest of the game around the core.
  7. Refine the game through iterative play-testing.  
This session was great because they gave us some thinking time after the presentation of each step.  This allowed us to work on our individual games and refine it.

The afternoon session was lead by Jason Malozzi, a Mathematics professor at LCCC.  He spoke with us about the different probabilities in games and how this is important for balance.  Play-testing will get you past this but that is the looooooong way.  The one exercise he led us through was eye-opening as a game designer, even though I know all this as a math teacher.  Are you familiar with the game Yahtzee?  He asked us why they didn't include a pair in the game.  They have three of a kind, full house, small straight, and large straight, but no pair.  We started with some experimental probability, but the theoretical probably determine that with 5 dice a player would roll a pair 90% of the time.  Not too exciting.  This example is most likely obvious to many of us, but there are more complicated examples that are not.

I just want to point out that Mr. Malozzi was an amazing teacher.  He was funny, caring, and knowledgable.  If you live in the area of LCCC and want to actually learn some math, take one of his courses.  Just saying.  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The first half of the morning session was led by Mark Barlet.  Mr. Barlet is the founder of Able Gamers.  Please take a minute to check out their website.  You will be truly amazed.  #includification

He can say anything better than I ever could.  Take a look at one of their youtube videos:

1 comment:

  1. When you get a chance you should read Audrey Watters' piece on the Educating Modern Learners website. The article, What Should School Leaders Know About Gamification? indirectly applies, but is relevant to your topic. Accessing the post requires free registration.

    There are certain game mechanics that lend themselves nicely to creating classroom learning experiences:

    * The learner has micro-control over his environment
    * The learning experience is structured by specific goals
    * Learners reason through or think strategically about the situation
    * The learner receives immediate feedback and is given ample opportunities to apply previous experiences to new similar situations
    * The learner needs to learn from the experiences of other people

    James Paul Gee writes a ton about this. Here is one example.

    While your post addresses game creation; these ideas apply game mechanics into designing overall learning experiences.

    I appreciate learning what you learned.