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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Game Design and Ecosystems - Project Overview

I have written plenty about the Game Design and Ecosystems project, but I wanted to have one post that links to everything and sums up the experience.

Andrea Thelen and I agreed that we accomplished a lot with this project.  It was the first time either of us had attempted such a degree of integration.  While I had worked with Gamestar Mechanic before this, I had never taken an entire class through the design process to a multi-level game.  We were happy with the results, but we felt it took a little longer than we'd hoped to complete it.  Also, the standard of the students' work at the end was not as high or as consistent as we would have liked.  The story we hoped they'd develop was not strong, for example, and some students didn't complete all aspects of the project.

I asked Andrea to make a list of things she'd do differently next time and I added a few items of my own.  Here's what we came up with.

  • Assign groups rather than have students choose their own groups
  • Limit group size to two students if at all possible
  • Provide feedback on each stage of the project more quickly, especially on the story elements and the extra components such as the quiz and the playtest assignment
  • Start the Quest at Gamestar Mechanic right at the beginning and be sure the students are progressing in a timely manner
  • Provide more examples of good and bad aspects of game design
One goal of the project was to have younger students play the games and take quizzes to see how well they learned the ecosystem facts from the games.  This did not come together as well as I had hoped.  The younger students' teachers discovered they didn't have enough time to devote to the game and the quizzes.  One classroom did play the games and the students enjoyed them a lot, but only a very few students took the quizzes.  There wasn't enough interesting data collected from those for me to report.

In summary, here are the parts of the project that I wrote about previously.  Resources related to each stage are included in the posts:

Donations are definitely accepted!
Our ecosystem project has been a popular stop for many educators searching for project ideas.  If you find anything here useful, please consider donating $1 to $3.  Any money I receive this way will be used in my district to purchase resources for similar technology projects. We and our students greatly appreciate your support!  We would love to hear how you use the resources too.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mike -

    Great Post! I'd love to get your thoughts on a game we're working on and see if it'd be applicable or what we could do to make it so. Let me know at if you're interested.