Unfortunately, by the time Week 2 came around, we were still gameless. The MinecraftEdu order had been made but we found ourselves still in the 'it will take a few working days to process and validate your order' phase.
In that sense, our game-based learning club was still...
At the time of preparing for Week 2, no fewer than six software houses had been kind enough to promise us access to their games (more would follow and will be featured and thanked on the blog later). In alphabetical order, they were as follows:
- Broken Age - a point-and-click adventure game that was born out of a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign, this follows seemingly separate stories about a girl trying to escape her fate of becoming an 'offering' from her village to a ravaging monster and a boy who is all alone on a spaceship with only the on board computer for company.
- Don't Starve - an indie survival game in which the player must guide Wilson, a gentleman scientist, through the horrors of a world he finds himself lost in after an experiment gone wrong, all without getting killed, going crazy, or starving (obviously).
- Endless Legend - a turn-based strategy game akin to Civilization but set in a fantasy world with the aim of estanlishing yourself as the dominant faction in the game world.
- Portal 2 - a first person puzzle platform game that has already made inroads to many classrooms around the world especially in maths and physics, leading to Valve releasing a Puzzle Maker for teachers/students to design their own levels and starting the Teach with Portals website.
- StarForge - a science-fiction 'Minecraft clone' in which players are transported to an alien planet and must set about gatehring resources, building shelters, and protecting themselves from the alien inhabitants of the world they find themselves in.
- The Stanley Parable - an interactive story in which the player is faced with a number of intriguing choices and an at-times irritable narrator all presented in a way to get players thinking about choice both in video games and the real world.
While doing this, I asked them to frame their findings with the following questions:
- What kind of game is it?
- What is the story behind the game?
- How is the game played?
- What do the positive reviews say about it?
- Are there any negative reviews? What do they say about it?
- What could we learn from this game?
- Would you recommend this game for use in our club?
I next gave time for the pairs to return to the internet and investigate further the games that had interested them most. Finally, as a whole group, we then ranked the titles by how excited the group were about the prospect of playing them and also which ones they thought would be most useful for learning.
This activity turned out to be a useful one to do and made me glad that the MinecraftEdu software had not yet become available to us. It gave me a good idea of what kind of games the group would be interested in and also gave them a chance to investiagte and dig a little deeper. The older students for example at first glance dismissed Broken Age and Don't Starve as looking 'childish' but once they had learned some more about the games, they were keen to play. Some of the titles also introduced the concept of games as a form of storytelling. While Portal 2 was rated as the game with most learning potential, The Stanley Parable also featured highly with students identifying the manner in which it makes the player think differently.
And now, the rules and expectations have been set, the titles have been previewed, and now its time to let the games begin!