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Mar 03, 2010



This is a fantastic idea and I hope to implement it one day. Do you have any recommendations on modifying the grading for elementary or middle school level students?


This is really interesting, but it feels a little too... familiar? Isn't this generally what all courses do? You start out with a 0% and you add to that score by completing assignments and exams. One presentation may be worth 10% of your grade, another worth 35% and in the end, the person with the most cumulative points (the highest level) receives an A.

So what would make it more game-like? I can imagine MORE quests -- more assignments. I think part of the problem with conventional classroom questing is that it is relatively limited and very high stakes. In other words, you have a midterm and a final exam, with nothing in between. This doesn't mesh well with the theory that games engage us through an ongoing appeal to appetitive and aversive drives. Moreover, part of the appeal of games seems to reside in agency. Not only can I choose my quests, but I can choose a subset of quests and still succeed. In the classroom, I can choose whether or not to write a paper or give a presentation -- but these alternative routes rarely earn an A.

Finally, if the mechanism of leveling-up is generally the same in the classroom as in virtual worlds, maybe we should focus more on aspects of immersion. While the school narrative is coherent and consistent, it isn't always "fun". Maybe fun isn't the right word -- engaging, enjoyable, playful, life-affirming? The point is, maybe we should focus on creating new narratives. Certainly the Sheldon syllabus starts down this path, but it just doesn't seem to make the sale. "Defeat 5 random mobs (5 written reading quizzes)." The narrative just isn't thick enough to convince me that I'm not pushing a rock up a hill.

That said, if I ever earn 0 points on an assignment, I will feel much better about the whole ordeal if the teacher writes "Leroy Jenkins" rather than F-


Hmmm, elementary and middle school. I don't know, can they handle the idea that you do assignments when you want? Maybe not, so, maybe the quests have to be given out at a specific time and have to be handed in at a specific time. But I think the guilding and grouping would work.

The first time I did it, I would make an easy leveling curve and try to give everybody an A, just to make sure you don't make anyone mad or depressed or frustrated.


I have barely enough students to run a PUG, let alone several guilds (sigh). Even if I did, though, there's no way my university's assessment regulations would let me do this kind of thing: if I want to give marks for "coursework" it has to be submitted electronically or in some other form that our external examiners can pore over sagely and announce meets Learning Outcome #5.

I really envy the degree to which American universities trust their teaching staff - the freedom you have is much better than in the UK (except perhaps in Oxbridge and the like, where they can tell people who want to over-administrate them to go boil their heads).



I'm not sure what the big deal is - this syllabus is just the same tired old syllabus with some gamer vocab swapped in.

I would be more interested in a syllabus that had only two lines. "During the next sixteen-weeks you have the opportunity to become an elite game designer. How you get there is up to you."

What does it say about a game design class where the syllabus reflects that same tired old game elements. I'm guessing the first game produced by those students will include a quest where you have to kill 10 rats.


>a quest where you have to kill 10 rats.
Or, for computer science students, 2 rats.



Or 1010 rats.


Elena Bertozzi who teach game design at U Wisconsin did this article for IGDA Ivory Tower in 2004:


Classes have always been games simply because you have to earn credit to level up but I always thought Elena's approach to the final particularly unique. Add to this that the final was at Elena's house and she is one of the best cooks in North America and you have a situation where even failure could be delicious.


If you're curious about actual-classroom-practice use of gaming concepts in high school, both my hint tokens and math videogame scorecard are very game-inspired. (The latter involves Gold, Silver, and Bronze achievement levels.)

I think only a handful of my students would appreciate the MMORPG terminology, but in one of my classes (involving standards-based grading, so rather than Fraction Test #1 it gets broken down into Reducing Fractions, Adding Fractions, etc.) I had the notion of making a website to upload their scores to that would generate medal achievement levels and give links to bonus videos once they hit "mastery" of a certain concept. Alas I haven't had time to finish that.


I can see where this idea would work in this particular class. The students have self-selected to work with MMORPGs so putting the class in the form of one makes it more fun and interesting.

It actually highlights one of the real problems with game based learning in my opinion: Not everyone likes every genre/theme in gaming. Imagine teaching a high school algebra class with a game. To appeal to all of the students in the class you would have to have the exact same content formatted as a Pirate themed game, as a space themed game, as a teen romance thinly disguised as a vampire themed game, etc.

Some commentators seem to think this is a cool idea and some seem to think it is a stupid idea. I think it is both cool and stupid and the difference is the context in which it is used.

In one context, it will work brilliantly while in another context it will be viewed by the students as a transparent attempt to make the material more "fun" -- chocolate covered broccoli as Ian Schrieber likes to put it.


For more information about Sheldon’s game design classes and using games to teach please visit his blog at:


I saw this thread and couldn't help diving in!
Nice one

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