Issue #2: Game Design

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Meeting with TA-2
On Tuesday we had a meeting with our TA-2 partners to discuss more about the inquiry process and assessment items. They provided us with a step-by-step breakdown of how the inquiry process works so that we can implement into our new game in a fun and engaging way. They also went over the different assessment items that they will be using to measure the learning efficacy of the game. These assessment items, pulled from the National Research Council are: asking questions, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, using mathematics and computational thinking, and constructing explanations. Some of these may end up being a bit too complex for the younger bracket of our demographic, but we’ll learn this from testing and evaluation studies.
We also had another meeting with the SEL (socio-emotional learning) team from TA-2 to get some of our early ideas on SEL to them so they could provide some insight and feedback. Some new ideas apart from an NPC/AI character are allowing a player to observe another player’s actions and use stamp-like icons to either agree, or disagree with the child’s actions. A suggestion from our TA-2 partner was to create scenarios in which the player can do better if they cooperate with another player, versus scenarios where they will do worse if they do not.

Game Ideas
As we progress through the semester, we’re starting to think about different game ideas that will tackle our three objectives: science content based from the Siegler paper, scientific inquiry, and SEL. We’re working out different mechanics and styles for the games and will be getting feedback from our TA-2 partners in the coming days so we all stay on the same page as we move forward in the semester. One of our ideas involve loading cargo onto a hovercraft/zeppelin as part of a shipping company to a city in the sky. Another idea would be set in the outback, where the player has to stabilize a bridge or path that has become unstable in order to help stranded cubs or travelers get across to the other side. We are also bouncing around an idea to have the player be a cave explorer, creating paths by knocking down rock formations to find different items.
Each of these ideas, as well as our other ideas, lend themselves to each of our three objectives. For example, each of the games could have a phase in which the player is asked about why they’re doing things the way they are for the inquiry portion (a supervisor could ask the player why they’re loading the vehicle the way they are). And some levels could encourage cooperation (the player needs to use another player’s materials to reach an optional reward for example). A fun suggestion we got from our TA-2 partner was also providing the players with a chance to unbalance. This could be both fun, in that the kids get to “destroy” something, and it could also be an interesting way to see how kids are retaining the information about balance.


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