Educational Game Design – Criterion D TSCs

Now that you have started collecting data for your evaluations, it’s time to start thinking about how you will structure your final evaluation of your game. With the lower ES students heading to our class next week for 20 minutes or so, we need to be prepared! Let’s use the TSCs as a guideline:

1. Include Multiple Methods to Evaluate Success

This means (at least) including and explaining the methods you used to collect data from fellow game designers and your intended audience. You should include the questions from the survey (don’t just include a link!) and the responses (raw data). You should also include some sort of organization/analysis of that data that you can use for your evaluation.

2. Evaluate (with reasons) the Success of Your Game

This evaluation should use the data from part 1 above and should also directly reference your design specifications. Based on the responses you have received, is your game a success? Take stand! Don’t say “It is sort of a success and sort of not a success.” Defend your decision with data! (Note: as I said in class, please also be realistic and not overly harsh on yourself. If one thing doesn’t work, the game can still be successful. Also, it can still be successful at reaching its goal and still have room for improvement. Nothing good was ever build perfectly the first time!)

3. Describe in Detail Game Improvements

Pretty self-explanatory, I hope. These improvement should be based on feedback and from your initial idea for the game. These improvements might be things that you are able to fix, or they might be things that are beyond your technical ability (at the moment).

4. Explain the Impact

The purpose of this project was to explore the possibilities of using computer games in educational settings. Do you think that you game has the potential to impact learning for lower elementary students? Do you think that games in general have a place in school? Has creating this game had any impact on your view of games in education, either as a student or as a designer?

What do you think? Any questions?

Educational Game Design – Testing and Evaluating Your Game

Chocolate Chip Challenge by Juliak0610

Chocolate Chip Challenge by Juliak0610

Now that your final product is complete, it is time to see if your game addresses and solves the problem that you laid out in your Design Brief. Maybe you should take a moment to find your design brief and re-read what you wrote.

<waiting….>

The first step in this process is to design detailed testing methods that will generate appropriate data to help you measure the success of your game.

What does that mean?

There are two main groups that we will use to give us feedback (data) on our game. The first group is other game designers, i.e. your classmates. The second group is your intended audience, i.e. Kindergarten and/or Grade 1 students at YIS. This doesn’t mean you can’t include others in your tests, but you should definitely plan to include at least those two groups.

There are also two types of data that we can collect: qualitative and quantitative. You might gather qualitative data through surveys or interviews. This data tends to be subjective and can be converted to a numerical score. Tests that can be used to obtain qualitative data include:

  • using a questionnaire to find out if the target audience likes the look of a product
  • surveying students to find out which parts of a video game they found too easy and which were too difficult
  • interviewing an expert after he or she has interacted with a solution
  • performing a user trial by giving a toy to children to play with and observing reactions.

Quantitative data is more objective and is gathered through measurement rather than observation. Tests that can be used to obtain quantitative data include:

  • timing users who are tasked with finding a particular piece of information on a website
  • beta-testing your game to find bugs
  • counting the number of hits on a website over a set period of time.

Your first goal, before you ask anybody to officially test your game (and before you officially test anybody else’s game!), is to determine how you will collect data to evaluate the success of your game. In a new Google Document:

  • Create the testing methods you will use to collect qualitative and quantitative data from your fellow game designers.
  • Create the testing methods you will use to collect qualitative and quantitative data from your intended audience.
  • In both cases, think about how can you incorporate your design specifications into some of these testing methods.
  • Also discuss how many times you feel you will need to use each test in order to get useful results. How many people will you need to survey?

Once you have designed these tests you can start asking your fellow game designers to play your game and to give you feedback based on the tests you have created.  We will invite the Kindergarten and Grade 1 students to join us in one of our classes so you can collect data from them as well.

eLearning for Today

Super Typhoon Phanfone’s Path, courtesy of The Weather Channel

Super Typhoon Phanfone is here. I trust that you are all home, safe and dry.

All of grade 9 should continue to work on the development of your game ideas. Based on your week last week, you should have your design specs written and most/all of your game pitches written. It is now time to focus on choosing a design (don’t forget to justify why you’ve chosen it) and to create the storyboards for that game.

Like I said, stay safe! I’ll see you later this week.

Mr H

Generating and Selecting Ideas for our Games

Now that we have completed the initial inquiry and analysis for our educational game design, it’s time to turn our attention to developing ideas.

[What’s that you say? Initial inquiry and analysis? Yes. Initial. Remember, as you go through this process, you will undoubtedly need to do more research to help with your creation. This should be documented in your process journal and used in the appropriate sections of your work!]

To help with this development of ideas, let’s break it down into four stages:

Stage 1 – Design Specifications

Design specs, according to the MYP, are “a set of considerations, constraints and requirements for a solution: what the solution must or must not have to be successful. A specification is not a description of the outcome.” It is important that the specs are written well as they will be used throughout the rest of the project. Good design specs are specific, measurable, realistic and testable. Some (but maybe not all!) factors to consider when writing your design specs for this project are:

Aesthetics – Consider appearance, style, colour, shape/form, texture, pattern, finish, layout.

Customer – Who it is for? What is the target user’s age, gender, socio-economic background?

Function – What it must do? What is its purpose? Where will the product be stored? How easily can it be used/maintained?

Creation – What resources are available for you to use? Are there limitations as to how this can be created? How much time is needed to create the design?

Remember: specific, measurable, realistic and testable.

Stage 2 – Developing a Range of Ideas

To help us create a range of ideas, you need to write elevator pitches for each of your possible design ideas. This “pitch paragraph” tells the story of your game in a brief manner. Some questions that might help you to write this are:

  • What is the setting?
  • How is it played?
  • What is the objective of the game?
  • What will the user do?
  • What will the user learn?

Ideally, each of your pitches will create different scenarios rather than just change some minor details. These pitches should be able to give others a reasonable vision of what your game might be like. A good pitch will also include another paragraph that gives more details and/or explains why you are including different aspects in your pitch. This second paragraph should not be part of the explanation of the game but rather an explanation of your thinking.

Stage 3 – Making Your Choice

Since you have more than one possible design, how will you choose which one to create? If you immediately started thinking “design specification!”, you’re right! For this part of the process, you should justify your choice of final design by comparing your designs against the design specs you wrote earlier. To be done thoroughly, each design should be compared against all the specs to help you make your choice. This should also include some feedback from others about your designs. Ideally this would be part of your target audience but could also be from classmates, family members, etc.

Stage 4 – Detailed Planning

Now that you have chosen your final design, you need to add details to your elevator pitch idea. This is going to be done in the form of storyboards. You should have at least three different storyboard panels for this game:

  • the Start screen
  • at least one panel of game play
  • the Game Over screen

A thorough example of these storyboards will include not only the picture, but a narrative description of what is happening, annotations of the sample screen to provide more explanation, and a list of the requirements (sprites, backgrounds, music, sound effects, etc.) that are envisioned for that stage of play.

All of this will be submitted in a single document but you may wish to do some of the work in your process journal and then transfer it over to your final copy. You can use these TSCs to help guide your work.

Educational Game Design: Inquiry and Analysis

Over the past few weeks, we’ve done a lot of small tasks to help us get ready to design our game. We’ve investigated the Scratch interface. We’ve discussed the need for learning how to code. We’ve started thinking about the questions we will need to have answered in order to complete this project successfully. We’ve taken a look at previous games that have been created in order to critique and analyze them as well as to get some inspiration and ideas from them.

Now it is time to bring all of those things together. Your first assessed task is to collect all of the work that you have been doing and submit your inquiry and analysis. As the task-specific clarifications have four sections, I would advise you to organize your work in a similar manner:

  • Section 1: Statement of problem and justification for solution
  • Section 2: Research Plan
  • Section 3: Analysis of existing solutions
  • Section 4: Design Brief

The design brief should be informed by the previous three sections. There might be some parts of the brief that seem to repeat what you’ve said in the first three sections, but the idea is that the design brief should stand on its own. Assume that other people will only see the design brief so it is important that it is complete.

This will be due at the end of class on September 29. In addition to uploading it to Veracross, I will ask that you also upload it to Turnitin. This may require you to create an account. We will discuss how to do this in class.

Broadcasting in Scratch

BroadcastThere are two really important functions in Scratch that will help you when it comes time to code your game. This first is the use of variables and you have had a bit of an introduction to that when you finished the double jump tutorial.

The second is the idea of broadcasting. This is a way to get sprites to interact with each other by sending out (broadcasting) a message for all sprites to “hear”. Once the sprites receive that message, they can then start their own scripts.

You can use broadcasting to create an interactive animation. For example, when clicking on different objects on the screen, you can make your main character speak and spell the word for the user to see/hear. You can also use broadcasting to end a game when a player runs out of lives/health or to make a quiz game.

See if you can copy this broadcasting program that I’ve created. How can you modify it to make it more interesting? Can you add the spoken word as well as the written word? In a different project, can you make two characters interact automagically?

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/26728622/

Developing Your Research Plan

An important component of Criterion A is your research plan. This is a chance for you to identify the questions that you need to answer in order to be able to create the solution to the problem.

Now that we have a (very basic) understanding of Scratch, we need to start thinking about what this unit is really about and how you will be able to solve the problem of creating an educational game for elementary students. What questions do you have about the project? What questions do you need answered and where will you get those answers?

Check out this help sheet (originally published by the MYP) to get you started.

Should everybody learn to code?

It’s a good question. Is there an easy answer?

  1. Program or Perish: Why Everyone Should Learn to Code
  2. Should Everybody Learn to Code?
  3. Maybe Not Everybody Should Learn to Code
  4. Everyone can and should learn to code? RUBBISH, says Torvalds
  5. No, Not Everyone Needs to Learn to Code – But Here’s What They Should Know
  6. Please Don’t Learn to Code

In groups, divide up the reading and share what each articles says. Come up with your own argument as to whether or not you think everybody should learn to code.

Beginning Scratch

Scratch is a powerful programming environment that has been developed by computer scientists at MIT. Along with the actual program editor, there is a strong Scratch community.

  1. Go to http://scratch.mit.edu and join the Scratch community (top right corner of the page).
  2. There are a ton of online tutorials for learning how to program using Scratch. We will explore some of the existing projects on the site later, but for now let’s check out a few tutorials to learn some of the basics of Scratch.


 

Educational Game Design

What most schools don’t teach

As we learned from the video above, very few schools are teaching computer programming at a time when there will be more and more demand for people with computer coding experience. This project is an opportunity for you to explore the concept of coding while also using the Design Cycle to help you create a program that fulfills a purpose.

In addition to exploring the Scratch programming language and community, we will also be taking the time to “interview” students in the elementary school to get an idea of what their interests are as well as what content is appropriate.

Your task will be to design and create a simple game or activity using Scratch that can be used in the elementary school classrooms to help them learn or reinforce what they have been learning. It can be a math game, a reading quiz or maybe even a Japanese lesson. Whatever you decide to make, you should strive to make it the right level of difficulty and the right level of interest for your audience.

Statement of Inquiry:

Computer game design requires a combination of programming, story telling, and art.

Inquiry Questions:

  • Factual: How can we learn to use Scratch?
  • Debatable: Are computer games a good way to teach and/or learn in school?
  • Conceptual: How does art, technology, design and storytelling combine to make a good computer game?

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