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Reflection

Fun with Stamps Artifact:
ED670 Fun with Stamps (eGame Design)

Related Artifacts:
EDTEC 670 Card Game design; Multi-User Virtual Learning Environment design

Go to EDTEC 670 Assignments Website


I created a web-based educational game while enrolled in EDTEC 670: Exploratory Learning through Simulation and Games. This assignment included:

  • an analysis on instructional objectives and prospected audiences;
  • collection of resources;
  • defining context of use; and
  • designing motivational elements, objects, rules to play, etc.

  • Game design has never been my main interest of study. The reason that I would take a game design course in my master degree program was because I hope I could make learning fun whenever possible.

    I used intrinsic motivation theories as the principle of my design to make the product fun and educational to my audiences. As said in EDTEC 670 syllabus, "To design an instructional game well, you must be both systematic and intuitive, analytic and artistic. In mastering the ISD process, you've learned to handle the cognitive side of instruction". This project is suitable for showcasing the cognitive standard.

    Project Description

    This 670 assignment focused on the design details and motivational elements. Before the project began, I read three articles about intrinsic motivation. They are Making Learning Fun: A Taxonomy of Intrinsic Motivation for Learning by Malone and Lepper; The Condition of Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Use of the ARCS Motivation Model in Courseware Design by Keller and Suzuki. Among the three, the first one appeared to be the most useful to me.

    Malone and Lepper’s taxonomy divided intrinsic motivation into two big categories, individual motivation and interpersonal motivation, and each category has their own subcategories.

    intrinsic_motivation

    This theory was familiar and inspiring to me. It was familiar because the theory has helped me to reflect my experiences in instructional game design during the past seventeen years. It was inspiring because the theory has added ideas to some areas that I had neglected for all these years. The greatest part was that the theory helped put my scattered design principles and tips together, fit them into a structured framework and clarify the vague portions. It delineated the phenomena, and explained the relationship between personal or environmental characteristics and learning outputs. I felt that I would be more capable of anticipating consequences for what-if scenarios if I had opportunities to design instructional games again. I would know what the result might be if a specific factor was added to my design.

    Bearing Malone and Lepper’s taxonomy in mind, I applied the theory to my game design assignment. I allowed users to control over pace and frequency of the game. I designed a universal score system to retain user attention; I used random elements to create uncertain

    outcomes and maintain learner curiosity from start point to ending; I used lots of beautiful postal stamps to provide emotional fantasy; I counted both speed and accuracy of responses; I created multiple levels of difficulty; I provided timely performance feedback to foster sense of challenge, retain confidence, satisfaction, and cognitive curiosity for different level users.

    In addition to above mentioned individual motivations, I also designed context for team play. During team play, team members would need cooperation to speed up the gaming process. They would compete with other teams and finally gain recognition from others by winning higher points.

    During the process of game design, I also referred to Keller and Suzuki’s ARCS theory. I examined often: Had I inspired curiosity (attention)? Had I motivate the desires to learn (relevance)? Were the challenges I designed too difficult to sustain players’ confidence? Had the consequences of gaming provided feeling of satisfaction to players? Inductive and deductive reasoning happened along the road of design process.

    Demonstrating Cognitive Standard

    During the project, I learned to deal with affective aspect of instruction by thinking, “How to make learning activities interesting?” I analyzed the educational needs and audiences; decided the appropriate type of game that supports instruction; use psychological theories to design motivational effects through inductive and deductive reasoning; and describe the design with flowcharts and diagrams.

    Problems & Opportunities Encountered

    It had been an interesting experience doing this assignment. The main problem I encountered in this project was to digest the game design articles. I have never been a fan of electronic games. Terms in the field such as bid, deal, declaration, draw, shortcuts, obstacles, patterns of elements, and paths were all strange to me. It took me quite a while to figure out what the terms mean.

    The second problem I encountered was to think like a player. What combinations of tokens would be fun? What level of flexibility would be right for moving game pieces? How complicated would the path branches be within the comfort level of players? These were all complicated decisions for me to make and I had to consult children in the neighborhood.

    The opportunity enabled by the project was that I have been able to take advantage of other knowledge and skills learned from other EDTEC courses, such as front end analysis learned from EDTEC 540 and 544, prototyping learned from EDTEC 541 and 561, multimedia design learned from EDTEC 561, etc.
     

    Lessons Learned

    Although the game had not actually been programmed and developed, I have learned from the project that:
  • Theories are useful. You could use them as guidelines for design or as criteria for revision.
  • Always remember the instructional objectives when designing an educational game. Save those fun but out-of-the-scope ideas for next design. Otherwise, you might lose your focus.
  • Never skip prototyping and usability testing because prototyping is a good vehicle for communicating complicated ideas and usability testing helps you address problems that you have not foreseen.
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    The End