Leveraging Game Design to inform Student-Centered Practices
I love video games because I find them to be challenging, frustrating, fun, rewarding, and engaging, and that is what I want my students to experience in my math classroom. I wondered how video game designers purposefully implement features into video games to make them challenging, fun, rewarding, and engaging. I also wanted to find strategies to meet my students where they are.
My research and experience playing platform video games has helped me identify ten guiding principles of platform video game design. I have implemented strategies based on a handful of those guiding principles; strategies that increased my students’ engagement using storylines, offering student choice, and lowering risk of failure. This session will be in three parts: First, a discussion of the ten guiding principles and my implementation successes and failures; second, participant work time to choose one or two principles and design a strategy (with a guide); third, how to collect data and measure the success of a strategy. There will also be time for additional questions.
Boston public schools roughly enrolls 52,665 students across 125 schools throughout Boston's neighborhoods. The student demographics are roughly 41.9% Hispanic, 31.5% Black, 14.2% White, 9% Asian, 3% non-hispanic/multiracial, .3% Native American, .2% Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander, 45% First language not English, 30% English learners, 20% Students with disabilities (students with an IEP), 6% English learners with disabilities, 70% Economically disadvantaged, and a 4-year graduation rate of 72.7%.
VIDEO GAME PRINCIPLES DESCRIPTIONS
Principle 1: Active & Critical Learning
A player is required to actively participate in the videogame, using the controller (or their body with Next-Gen systems), to make progress. he early levels in a videogame are used to form “generalizations that are fruitful for later cases” (Gee, 2008).
Principle 2: Semiotic Interaction
The graphics, sounds, and responses a videogame gives to the player. Semiotic also represents the context of interacting within the videogame environment. Being in one situation in one videogame may mean something completely different from another videogame.
Principle 3: Input Amplification
Is the amount of feedback a player gets from the Semiotic Interaction Principle. When a player pushes a few buttons on a controller, the feedback given back could be points, coins, a power-up, explosion, or all of the above.
Principle 4: Identity Adaptation
Is the interaction between the player’s “real-world identity” and the “digital-world identity” (Gee, 2008). When a player starts to play a video game, they gain “the potential to join and collaborate with a new affinity group” (Gee, 2007). The player is not only living and interacting in the real-world with their personal identity, but they can now interact with a specific group of people to discuss hints and tips for specific games.
Principle 5: Low-Risk
Is represented by the life-bar, life-cluster, save-points, and continues a videogame has. Gee (2008) asserts that “videogames create […] a learning space in which the [player] can take risks where real-world consequences are lowered.”
Principle 6: Actuated Difficulty
Is the modifications a player can make to increase or decrease the video games difficulty. Players “differ in a variety of ways, including how much they are willing to challenge themselves, and they play video games for a great variety of different purposes” (Gee, 2008).
Principle 7: Storyline
Is one of the key drivers for emotional investment in playing a video game. In a video game, the player who is the “receiver of the narrative want and needs to interact with and influence” the narrative “on the fly” (Prensky, 2001).
Principle 8: Materia Conservation
Is how a player decides to use materials, power-ups, and objects in a videogame when the materials, power-ups, and objects are limited. The decisions made by a player to conserve power-ups and powers truly depends on the context of the game.
Principle 9: Forked Pathways
Is the options a videogame has in its design that allows the player to choose how they will go about achieving a goal or beat the game.
Principle 10: Scaffolded Training
The way a videogame is design to teach or allow a player to learn how to play and interact within the video game’s environment; the “space” a player is given to learn the game.
Gee, James. P. (2008). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Literacy &
Learning. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Heacox, Diane, EdD. (2002). Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom: How
to Reach and Teach All Learners, Grades 3 – 12. Minneapolis, MN: Free spirit
For Google Classroom