The class met today (yes, we have classes on Saturday) and here’s how things have come along since the last post.
Once they decided on the coordinates for their initial destination, they DM’ed them to AgentShiva on twitter. This action unlocked an achievement on the website. They then officially became “agents” of the GODS (governmental order of divinity and society), whereupon AgentShiva responded with a DM that looked something like this:
Coordinates confirmed. Solve mission puzzle for further instructions: 40.295378,-74.727067, 954G51i
Essentially, they had to figure out on their own what to do next. To solve the puzzle they had to recognize that the first two numbers in the series were coordinates. If they plugged them into google, our school library would pop up. YAY! Then they would have to figure out that the last number is actually a call number for a book (I used only books in the India section so they would become familiar with where the India books are in the library). In retrieving the book (each had a unique call number), they each found an envelope inside, containing a letter and about 65,000 play Rupees. Here’s the letter:
I have confirmed receipt of your destination coordinates. We have performed a full background check on you and are happy to announce that we think you’re perfect for this mission.
Your destination looks promising; there is a great deal of information you can gather anywhere in India, but for now, you’ll spend time collecting intelligence at the site of your choosing. Don’t get too comfortable, though. There will be times when we’ll need you to pack up your things and hit the road. Our agents in the field will require your assistance throughout this journey. Be prepared for unexpected travel; anything can and may happen.
Now that you’ve chosen your destination, you’ll need to get to India. In this package I’ve included a stipend, which you must manage responsibly. If you go to the temple, you’ll find both a map and a key for travel costs. To get to India, you first need to find a flight from your current location. Use expedia or a similar travel site to choose an available flight leaving as soon as possible. Take note of the flight number and convert the price into rupees (rs). You’ll find the conversion rate on the travel key. Since you may have chosen a destination, which does not have an airport, you may have to find other ways to transport yourself there. Use the travel key and google map to calculate the distance, mode, and cost of travel.
When you finally arrive at your destination, find an internet cafe and in 200 words or more, detail the first leg of your journey. Detail your itinerary and costs. What was the trip like? What kind of things, people, and places did you experience?
Agent Shiva will be waiting to confirm your arrival in India. After you’ve completed your blogging quest, contact him. In order to be sure of your identity, he will present a series of tests. The first is to complete the next line of the password. Direct message him your response.
“This light hath come, of all the lights the fairest…”
This letter drove them back to the internet and the course website, where they needed to create an itinerary and really figure out how they were going to get to their destination in India. By last night, many students had posted their blog, describing their journey to India. Here are some examples:
What many had not done is read (understood) the last part of the letter, which requires them to DM AgentShiva with the second line of that passphrase. The passphrase comes from the Rig Veda. It’s the opening line to the first section on creation. I thought it would be a suitable starting point for their journey, and also because the unlocked achievement of “traveler” is represented by a picture of Brahma, which is the deity often associated with creation.
Once they figured out the pass code, their status of “traveler” was unlocked and they were sent the following from AgentShiva:
Good Work. http://bit.ly/huQzRi Password is the name of the source of your passphrase.
At the site above (feel free to go and use the passcode: “rig veda”), the GODS lay out the first Intelligence Quest (IQ), which will test the skills of gathering information on the Rig Veda and it’s context. However, I put a fun limitation on the challenge, which you can read about at the link.
So here we are now, all the students are in India, so to speak, and beginning their knowledge tasks.
Here’s what I’m working on: developing a store wherein they can trade in their karma points (which they get for participating with the website — its an automatic program that assigns particular amounts for particular tasks — like a blog post might be worth 20, or a comment might be worth 5). So at the store they can trade in their karma points for additional quests (these are easier than the IQ’s) which will reward them with more rupees. Or I’m thinking of other items that will be unlocked as they make progress — if you have any ideas here, comment on disqus and let me know.
Okay! That’s enough for today. I’ll keep you updated throughout the week.
Alright, so the past week or so has been two things. 1. It’s been the most productive time for me in weeks. 2. It’s left me completely exhausted. There’s just not enough time in a day to do all the things I feel I need to do. Despite this, I tread onward.
In faculty meeting this week I gave a presentation on gaming and the elements of gaming that provide insight to human motivation and engagement. It was provocative and a pleasure to give. It’s great when people are confronted with new ideas and perspectives and was glad I got the chance to do that.
I’ve been working on the design of the game, and I can say now that it’s coming together. I’ve build a buddypress site with cubepoints integration, where the students will be asked to document their gameplay, and provide the evidence needed for the missions. I figured a single space where they can post their work, communicate with each other, both privately, through commenting on posts, and through groups/forums is ideal for this type of game. If you’d like to take a look at the site, its: http://india.lvillepress.com
AgentShiva is on twitter and functional. He’s received the results of their preliminary mission and is getting ready to send them on their first real quest: planning and executing the trip to India.
Today they were on google maps/Earth exploring India and looking for a place where they would go to first. They sent their coordinates to AgentShiva via twitter and are awaiting confirmation. Tomorrow he will send a Direct Message with three numbers: which will be a code that they have to decipher in order to discover the instructions for their next mission.
I’ll update on Saturday, after we meet again.
I got some great feedback from Twitter and Gameful peeps about the game. One of my colleagues posed some pertinent questions, which got me thinking:
First, I haven’t thought about expanding the audience. Someone else asked me about this and while my goal is to make it clear and transparent, I haven’t found the right venue for that yet (online). But I get what you’re saying: I figure I can direct my twitter/fb/plp networks over to their “proofs of completion”, whatever those may be. Since they’ll have to find a way to post their proof online, why not allow them to get some “authentic feedback” from people outside the game.
In terms of skills outcomes — it’s definitely a question I’ve been thinking about. First off, the game context is meant to do a few things — it’s meant to engage them in ways they otherwise wouldn’t be engaged and it’s meant to motivate them, in a way only games can, through a feedback system that’s designed for leveling up. Second, the game asks them to engage in “simulation thinking” — a large part of that will be management of tasks, budget management, and strategic planning. The game also asks them to provide proof of completing their quests, so they must also think practically and creatively.
In terms of content — the players will experience the same content as those students in other classes, but each piece of content will take on added importance through the game context. One of the things I like about games is it shifts the idea of “you need to know this because it’s important” to “this is important to the successful completion of your quest”. That frame of reference adds a layer of value to the content.
The kids definitely have the skills they need to play this game. First, they spent two terms working on the outcomes intended for freshmen cultural studies. Also, there are a few ideas behind designing a good game that I’ve been thinking about:
1. The game has to start out easy and then get harder. They might move through the first quests rather quickly, but once they level up, they’ll be confronted with more rigorous challenges.
2. The game should be designed so that each person is granted the opportunity to work at the current limit of their skill/knowledge level.
2. The game has to reduce the treat caused by the risk of failure. (this is actually one of the driving forces behind this project) One of the interesting findings Jane wrote about in her book was that when failure is designed to happen in just the right way, people’s brains were activated in the centers correlated with rewardind behavior. Failure, when design properly, rewards the player to try again, this time harder.
As for how they know if they’re doing well..
I’m designing a progress panel for them that visualizes their stats. I’m still working this out, but it will be an indicator of how far they’ve come and how far they’ve left to go in order to level up (achieve mastery). I’m thinking that there will be different categories of “hindu virtues” in which they can accumulate points. For example: Ahimsa (non-violence), Compassion, Wisdom, Protection, as well as others.
What I’m curious about is the question of “discovering the feedback system” or “having it explained”. I’ll post more about that later. Anyway, since this is long enough, I’m just going to make it into an actual post. Thanks Kelley.
After having read Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken, I’m awash with ideas for my classes. The book wasn’t particularly about how to gamify education, but as an educator who recently heard John Gee’s pitch for doing just that, I’m ready.
On a side note, ever since I read the book, after I go to sleep, every one of my dreams has been about games — mostly where I’m a player in a game: unlocking achievements and levels, getting stuck, overcoming obstacles, etc.
The game I’m working on is a 10 week MRPG. The immersive environment will be India and the content will be history and culture. Students will be given missions and asked to provide proof of their missions through a twitter account, which will be kind of like Charlie from Charlies Angels or the Voice on Tape from Mission Impossible.
I figured I could use the twitter account the way video games use automatic feedback systems. In video games no one is there to tell you how you’re doing and mark down what you’ve done. I think the twitter account creates a feeling of automation. In class, I’m usually the authority that they go to for different information, but the more it seems like the missions aren’t coming from me, but from the game itself, the more likely kids will be motivated and engaged by game.
The game is really designed to facilitate personal exploration of the content (in this case India).
Here’s the setup:
You’ve been selected by the Governmental Order of Divinity and Society to go on a quest to India. Because your mission is secret we cannot inform you of all the details now. However, In time you will learn everything you need to know about your objective. Understand this though: your mission is vital.
The nation of India houses an ancient civilization, spanning thousands of years. It’s the seventh largest country in the world, and home to over 1 billion people. While China is the only other country that is bigger in both landmass and population, India is much more crowded. On average, nearly 900 people live in one square mile in India. There are people everywhere!
Your first quest is an easy one. Decide where you’re going to travel to. Use Google Maps or Google Earth, to explore towns and cities, and to look at pictures and videos. When you’ve chosen a location, Introduce yourself to @AgentShiva on Twitter and send him the coordinates of your destination, so he knows you’re serious and ready for this journey.
To ensure confidentiality, AgentShiva will send your next and all other quests via DM (Direct Message) on Twitter.
So this will get them started. I’m hoping to set up both Wiki and Blog where AgentShiva or another Agent will ask them to begin documenting the game/the mission. For the quests, they’ll need to provide proof of completing each quest, which they can do in any number of ways, but which will have to be posted online somewhere (preferably their blog) — that way they can use text, photo, video, et c.
Once they agree to play the game (by messaging AgentShiva) they’ll be given their next quest, which is to find a hidden envelope on campus with Rupees in it. In that envelope will be a link to a site with the blog/wiki, and a key to how much each mode of travel costs per 50 miles. They’ll need to use the money to get to their destination (which involves a plane ticket over there — i think they’ll have to find a real plane and convert the usdollars to rupees) and then travel by bus/taxi/train to their destination. So throughout the game they’ll be spending money as they travel from city to city, but they can also choose to go on small quests to make money. These might involve helping Indians with tasks (courier, fetch, read, write) or learning a trade.
Ok so that’s enough for now. I’ll be thinking throughout the day on what the reward/feedback system should look like and how to build failure into the game.
Comment on Disqus if you have any thoughts.