Sunday, March 13, 2016

Student Samples from the Game Design Exploration

Back in December I created a game design exploration activity that could be adapted to fit the schedule and content of many classes. I posted four articles about it, starting with the introduction here.

Recently I worked with some middle school students who created games using the template I provide. Their topic was Wonder, by R. J. Palacio.

Due to time constraints, students were only able to complete the cards and play their own game. I also assigned two reflection activities that were adapted from the one in this post.

You can see their sample cards here:

Students definitely enjoyed the activity from start to finish. It was a welcome change of pace that they looked forward to each morning. I heard plenty of discussion about the book as they tried to think of titles for the cards. 

When they played their games, I asked them a few things about how the actions on the cards related to the theme of the story. They generally could explain it easily, but sometimes the action would be inconsistent with the story.

For example, when the chips represented Happiness in one game and sometimes players would receive this Happiness by actions that were not happy. We talked about this briefly. Sometimes the contradiction is unavoidable given the simple nature of the game. Reflecting on these themes of the story serves an important purpose even if the cards don't make complete sense at times.

A couple tips:
  • Because the game was taking longer to play than I hoped, I put less chips in the center than what the rules called for. I also had students take four chips to start rather than just three. Students could also tweak the actions on the cards to make the game go faster.
  • Rather than printing on card stock, I printed their cards on paper. I cut them out and inserted each in a card sleeve (available at any game store or here) along with an old playing card to keep it stiff. This is how many of us make early stage prototypes, so it's good for aspiring young designers to pick up this tip.

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