Instructional Design: Gamification Implementation

Post 2/2: Gamification Implementation

Designing instructional practices to include gamification

So on 2/19 my students and I created the “story behind the game”. I asked students to think of the story behind it all and if they had an idea, write it down or draw it out and come talk to me about it. They had some great ideas, but one theme was common and apparently clear: Fairytale. Not what you expected from 4th graders, right? Me either!

So fairytales it is!

This was the students original submission and how it transformed into a collaboration between myself and two students who took a special interest.

1. Story approved… mostly. The real story is about two competitive queens who are each trying to level up their kingdom’s resources before the other.

2. What resources does a kingdom need to survive? The student leaders polled the classroom and gathered an extensive list; healing herbs (from their read aloud about Sacagawea- good text connection), gold (from a Legends of Learning game), crops, furniture, electricity, water, solar power, shelter, livestock, and pets.

3. Organize the resources into levels! Here are the kiddos priorities (captioned with the real commentary that occurred).

Level 1️⃣ Pets

Level 2️⃣ Water

Level 3️⃣ Livestock (“…because we can’t eat our pets”)

Level 4️⃣ Electricity (“so we we can cook our food and don’t get sick”)

Level 5️⃣ Crops (“gasps… what if someone does not eat meat?”)

Level 6️⃣ Furniture (“because we need somewhere to sleep”)

Level 7️⃣ Solar Power (“so we can save electricity”)

Level 8️⃣ Gold (“so we can be rich and buy stuff”)

Level 9️⃣ Rare healing herbs (“So we don’t die”)

Bonus Level *️⃣ Reality Party (“Just like the game, we will collect the resources for that, Ms. Glover”) 😂🤣😂

4. Set up the point system. Now, this took some thinking because they actually rationalized how common or valuable the resources would be. Valuable resources are assigned more points before they can earn them. We chose nine goals because the game will reset every nine weeks!

Now, the grand finale, the game pieces. The levels will be displayed vertically going up a wall. To indicate which kingdom is on what level, these lovely game pieces of Queen Glover (me- the red head) and Queen Vasquez (my partner teacher) will be placed next to the level they are currently at on the level posters which will be hung up on the wall.

Next was to write an introduction letter about the classroom game and how students were going to play the game to earn, lose, or spend their XP (experience points).

I will continue to update you on our progress of developing and implementing our game.

Leave comments about how you got stared with gamification in your classrooms, or if you have suggestions on how to amplify it from here!

Happy gaming!

One thought on “Instructional Design: Gamification Implementation

  1. Hi Amanda, thank you for describing this classroom scenario. It caught my eye because my company’s work deals in the relationship between games and stories and your post touched that chord.

    A couple of caveats before I comment:

    – We don’t use gamification as a ‘strategic communication’ process because the game scenarios with which I’m familiar are imposed on a group by ‘gamifiers.’ Basically, it gives the participants no ability to affect a game itself, only how it is played. There’s an imbalance in power between the gamifiers and the players.

    – Please don’t construe this as a criticism of your process. I think it’s awesome that you and Ms. Vasquez teaching with, and have your students thinking about, the relationship between games and stories. What I’m going to write here is only so that you can note the differences between your approach, and ours. There’s always learning to be had in the differences between things, and that’s my intention here–that you might gain something useful from my comments. I don’t claim that what I’m going to describe is better than your approach. In fact, it is NOT better, it’s only different.

    1. We use games as what we call ‘story engines.’ That is, it’s the power of games to produce a unique and valuable set of stories, in which all the participants in the game have equity, and whose voices are included. For us, it doesn’t work the other way around. Stories are not game engines. That is, you cannot determine the structure of a baseball game from a story about a baseball game.

    2. In terms of directionality, your process is the opposite of ours: We begin with a game. Then people play the game. See what kind of stories come of it. Everyone who plays the game can have a different story about it, and every playing of the game can produce a different set of experiences and the stories that describe them. Game, in our system, is the basis of the collaboration that produces stories told together. This means there is no one story, i.e. one person’s experience or perspective, that can dominate another’s, or be selected as THE story. We live in a world of shared stories, and the trouble begins when one person’s story is deemed to be a better version of reality, or more worthy of telling, than another’s.

    3. Here’s a key difference between what we do and what I’ve seen in gamification: The players design the game. Game design comes naturally to children, for whom game play is a powerful way of learning. They quickly grasp game structure, and you, as a leader, can empower them by giving them the power of deciding on the game, the same way a group of them would decide what to do with an empty packing box in a backyard. We have a trademarked game structure: ERGO, an acronym for Environment, Roles, Guidelines, Objective. Define these elements, and you’ve got yourself a game.

    4. By offering players the ability to design the game, you are able to manage them without interference. [Note how early you had to interfere with the current process by re-writing the definition of war as ‘leveling up resources.’ My guess is that it’s your definition of war not theirs, and not most people’s. Wars are horrible things, and you were forced to ‘de-fang’ the story definition in order to make a game of it that wasn’t about what wars are really about: conquest.]

    5. If the stories produced by a game are unsatisfactory–let’s say it’s a sports game that results in too many injuries–the game can be adjusted in order to produce better outcomes. We commonly get hired by clients who want better stories and storytelling from their organizations. We’ll look to the game structures, i.e. story engines, that are currently in place–there is ALWAYS a game, it’s ubiquitous–and make adjustments to one of more of a story engine’s ERGO elements in order to produce better outcomes.

    6. There is a difference between a game/story engine’s Objective, which is its point of focus, and it’s Outcomes, which are the lasting value of what a game produces, e.g. learning. The Objective of the game of basketball is putting a ball in a basket. The learning outcomes include eye-hand-coordination, spatial skills, teamwork, aerobic health, control of tempers, coachability, etc. etc. Stories resulting from a game/story engine are outcomes. To re-iterate what I wrote above, the structure of a game cannot be ascertained from a story it has produced. The corollary is that nothing in the structure of a game can predict the stories that will be generated by it. No one could have looked at the game of basketball and predicted the movie Hoosiers, the NBA, the Harlem Globetrotters or the popularity of Air Jordans. Yet none of them could have happened without the game. Likewise, you cannot predict what will be learned by students in the playing of a game. It’s the emergent properties of game play, and the stories produced by it, that are the secrets to its power.

    I am in no way suggesting you do this–again, this is only to note differences, not to ascribe value– but if we were to use our process to learn about the ‘leveling up of resources’ between two countries, it might go like this.

    You describe a scenario to the class in which two queens, represented by you and Ms. Vasquez, are threatening to go to war, are threatening to go to war. This gets into a discussion of why people fight with one another, and why countries go to war. When the discussion touches on the theme of ‘inequitable distribution of resources,’ it gives you the concept that the game will explore.

    At that point, you begin guiding them toward the ERGO game structure. Objective is usually first in our work, but it doesn’t have to be.

    The assignment is to design a game that will result in achieving the objective. Designing the game is, itself a game. You’ll need maps. Names of countries. Geographies. Descriptions of armies. etc. etc. Then, with appropriate prompts from the two Queens as the gamemasters, they play the game. They tell stories that emerge from the playing of the game. They make adjustments in the game to see if different, more equitable or beneficial stories ensue, etc. etc. etc.

    Hope you find this helpful. I am inspired by yours and Ms. Vasquez’ work, Amanda. It’s the future of learning. Congratulations, and best wishes to your students on their future successes!

    Liked by 1 person

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