Post Game Wrap-up

For the Education Arcade I originally planned to build a game that had a constantly rotating board, which meant it required a motor. The idea of that was so daunting to me that I eventually gave up on it, only to find that ‘s clever son actually managed to motorize her board game! I wound up building Adder-All, an adding game, with software using Microsoft’s Silverlight platform.

I really did want to make a learning game, but settled for a game that required the player have a preexisting knowledge of how to add. I thought if I wasn’t going to teach something, I could at least try to make a game that sharpened a skill they already had.

In Adder-All, the player essentially had to add two numbers (under 100 each). So, it was mostly a game of skill, the only luck factor being that the numbers were random, so it was completely possible to get a lot of simple problems, like 10+0, 1+1, etc. The players definitely showed signs of relief when the simple problems popped up.

Adder-All allowed players to really showcase their addition skills. Unlike the games like Snake Holes where players had to progressively use reason to make sensible determinations, my game relied fully on what they were bringing to the table.

The mechanics of the game were too fast, and often quirky. 60% of the players scored over 1,000 points (about 10-15 correct answers with 10 lives), but that means 40% didn’t. So I knew I had made the pace of the game too fast, too quickly.

It was buggy too, it froze a few times, and didn’t behave the way it did as on the computer I wrote it on (you have to click on the game after entering your name for example). These bugs caused players to lose lives, the game, and even stopped one of the kids from playing at all. At those times I wished I had a physical game that I could mend on the spot, but the best I could do was go out of server for a few minutes to update the Silverlight plugin to the latest version. Unfortunately, that didn’t help.

If I could do it again I would slow things down a bit and add some more features, like powerups to freeze time or get extra lives. Ideally I would have ended the game with a review lesson of the problems the players got wrong, perhaps with tips on how to solve them more quickly.

The Education Arcade experience, and AC 230 itself, were wonderful experiences for me, totally exceeding my expectations. I was expecting that I would learn how effectively present information, in PowerPoint or something. But it turned out that I was learning how to think about much bigger ideas, like building, and using creativity as a means to a goal. Most of all, I was happy to find that it was all fun. Plus, it was great being around people who have dreams of being educators. I tried to feed of their desires to want to share their knowledge, and their openness to learning new things through such unconventional methods as building our own Caine’s Arcade.

In regards to the course description, I don’t think I would change anything about the class. I was intrigued by how Prof. Smith was using the Web 2.0 to join in and participate in like-minded networks. I wish we learned more about how to discover, and be a part of our own niches, on the web. Perhaps that’s best left for a course of its own though.

When I’m ready to find my niche, I’m definitely now keen on blogging and will likely be doing so. And if such a course exists by then, sign me up!


P.S. If anyone starts a blog, be sure to let me know. I would love to follow it.

Fast Twitch Addition with Adder-All

The goal of this playable lesson plan is to help improve ones mental addition speed. Addition is an everyday tool that we use, and even though almost all of us walk around with calculators on or phones or laptops, it’d still be faster to just do simple sums  in our heads.

So I came up with a adding game called Adder-All.
The game works by having a summand fall from the top of the screen towards the bottom. The goal is to enter the sum before it falls off the screen. As the player progresses the summands fall ever faster, forcing the player to think fast or it’s game over.

Each time the player correctly answers a bonus multiplier is used to calculate the score. For example, if the player gets 10 in a row correct, then the points for the next correct answer would be 11 x [number of points for correct answer]. It’s an incentive to be extra precise in their calculations, and the best way to get to the top of the leaderboards.

The game is pretty ugly right now, so I’d like to modify it to make it look nicer. It could also use a bail out feature, like by hitting space to stop the summand from falling, giving the player a chance to save a life. I’d also like to add more bonuses, like the ability to earn extra lives.

The game doesn’t teach the player how to add. I thought about having a summary of the wrong answers at the end, with visuals of the expression and the sum. But I didn’t have time to do this. The lesson here is mainly to get to a new level of comfort and confidence with addition.

Hit Me: Using Math to Win

Core Design Elements

  1. Space: The player stands infront of a deck of cards and a board that holds six grocery items.
  2. Components
    • one deck of cards
    • six grocery items
    • numbers for placing prices underneath the grocery items
    • upright board that holds grocery items, players hand, and house hand
  3. Goal: The sum of the player’s cards must be greater than the sum of the house’s hand. The sum of the player’s cards must not go over 21.
  4. Core Mechanics: The player should constantly be dividing item prices by 1-10, to see if the the multiple makes sense. For example, if a bottle of water has $20.00 price tag, and the player knows that bottles of water are $1-2, then the player can conclude that the bottle of water is worth a 10 card.
  5. Rules
    • The player cuts the deck of cards. The top two cards are then given to the dealer. One face up, one face down.
    • The player is shown six grocery items. Each has a price underneath.
    • One item price is the actual price (1×price)
    • One item price is ten times the actual price (10×price)
    • The other items are some multiple of 2-9 times the item price (2×price, 3×price, 4×price…9×price)
    • The player selects an item, receives a card that is equivalent to the multiple value (see bottled water example).
    • The player stops selecting items when he or she is satisfied with their hand.
    • The player loses if his hand is greater than 21 or less than the dealers hand.
    • Selecting an item with its actual price gives an ace, which is worth 1 or 11 (decided by the player).
hit me run through

Sample run through of the game.

The player has to use multiplication or division skills to earn the best hand possible. In this case the player thinks the Slim Fast priced at $49.90 here might be 10 times the real price, and picks it hoping to get a ten card. Then the player thinks the price of the nuts is the actual price, so picks it to get an ace (worth 11 or 1), which gives the player 21.