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Let The Games Begin 3.0


Published on

Updated for the 2013 Carolina Games Summit

Published in: Education
  • Great presentation! Can you add information on how to gain access to 3D Game Lab for educators? Maybe links? I know the winter camp is over, but maybe a contact link for interested educators... I spoke to an educator who is using 3D Game Lab and he said it's allowing him to truly differentiate in the classroom. Every student is working at their level and there are no distractions or holding anyone behind. Students are also feeling empowered as they master quests. I can't wait to get on board!!!
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Let The Games Begin 3.0

  1. 1. T h e ! L et e g in e s B G a m .0 3 ower of Vi deo G ames for h e P Lea rning i ng T Le v erag sroo m Clas Now With More Edu-Gaming Goodness!Friday, February 1, 13
  2. 2. Lucas Gillispie Instructional Technology Coordinator Pender County Schools, NC On Twitter: @PCSTechFriday, February 1, 13Are you connected to other educators on Twitter? Why not? There is a huge community ofprofessionals out there sharing crazy-cool resources you can use in your classroom. Twitteris a huge resource.
  3. 3. www.edurealms.comFriday, February 1, 13All of my resources are here. Steal liberally. Share liberally.
  4. 4. What game designers know about learning..., February 1, 13So, game designers know a great deal about learning. We as educators should take note.Here are a few...
  5. 5. #1 PLAY IS POWERFULFriday, February 1, 13Remember the sandbox? What are the rules? How did you learn them? What are thelimitations on what you create? Is this child learning? You bet! Where are his notes,worksheets, homework... teacher?
  6. 6. “The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression.” Dr. Brian Sutton-Smith Author: The Ambiguity of PlayFriday, February 1, 13If you haven’t seen Stuart Brown’s TED talk on the power of play, you should watch it. (It’slinked in the resources for this session.) We need to re-examine play as a learning tool.
  7. 7. “It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” Leo F. Buscaglia, USCFriday, February 1, 13Do we give our learners spaces to play with concepts? Is there room for structured play?Unstructured? How can we take our standardized curricula and incorporate elements of playinto them?
  8. 8. Flow An optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where a person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. ntmi hályi l y Cs iksze MiháFriday, February 1, 13If you’d like to learn more about Flow psychology, check out the Wikipedia article onCsikszentmihalyi’s work at:
  9. 9. #2 IT’S ALL ABOUT MASTERYFriday, February 1, 13Video games are all about mastery. You don’t start out fighting the “boss.” You build tothat. This image is a typical screen of a World of Warcraft player experiencing a large raid(encounter involving 25 - 40 players). As you can tell, there’s a great deal going on.However, players don’t start with this many buttons and things to track. They actually startwith three to four. As the build competence through experience, new abilities are added forthem to master. At the same time, their challenges become tougher and require moreinteraction. Why doesn’t the typical classroom work this way?
  10. 10. Level 1 Level 50Friday, February 1, 13Motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic play a significant role in successful games as well.Here you can see the difference in how the same character at levels 1 and 50 appear to othersin the online game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. The tools to tackle greater challenges arenot just evident in the player’s user interface. They have an outward affect as well. Andthat’s visible to other players. It provides newcomers a visual “goal” to strive for as theyprogress through game content. Take a Biology class, for example. How might it look if,rather than talking to learners about a syllabus, that we introduced them to a classmate,student-biologist, who’s already been through the course who knows how to “do” Biology? Iwonder if it would have a similar impact?
  11. 11. Learning works best when new challenges are “pleasantly frustrating” in the sense of being felt by learners to be at the outer edge of, but within their “regime of competence”. That is, these challenges feel hard, but doable. (Gee, 2007, p. 36).Friday, February 1, 13James Gee, from the University of Arizona, is a must read for educators wishing to exploregame-based learning. In his book, What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning AndLiteracy, he lays the pedagogical groundwork that supports a game-based approach tolearning. This quote sounds somewhat similar to the idea of zone of proximal developmentdoesn’t it? Successful game designers must find this “sweet spot.” Here, the game is not tooeasy and not impossible. The best games keep us right at the edge of our capabilities, thuskeeping us challenged at the same time we’re entertained. Our classrooms can do this!
  12. 12. Exploration Cross-Functional Teaming Interaction Systems Thinking Production Distributed Knowledge Risk-Taking Challenge and Consolidation Customization Well-Ordered Problems “Just in Time” Learning Agency Identity Situated Meaning Performance-Based CompetenceFriday, February 1, 13James Gee, in a freely available paper called “Good Games and Good Learning,” provides anumber of learning strategies that are addressed in “good games.” You can read the paperhere:
  13. 13. #3 GAMERS CRAVE ASSESSMENTFriday, February 1, 13If you think about it, video games are persistent assessment. Players are constantlychallenged/tested as they play. It’s an expectation. Typically, assessment in school is aperiodic thing and students fear and hate it. How can we bridge these two methods? In avideo, Gee comments that we’d never ask a student who’d completed the single playercampaign in Halo to take a test to prove his competence in the game. That’s preposterous.We know that by “beating” the game, they’ve have already demonstrated competence. As acolleague, Sean Dikkers adds, if you were to ask a team of carpentry students to build a shed,you wouldn’t assess their success with a pencil and paper exam. Instead, you’d examine thequality of their work. Does the roof leak? If so, re-do it! With that in mind, perhaps we needto reconsider what we call assessment.
  14. 14. #4 IT’S OK TO FAIL TextFriday, February 1, 13Games embrace failure. I fail in games all the time. I expect it. I learn from it. Is the sametrue in the classroom?
  15. 15. “One of the counter intuitive things I needed to learn as a designer was that players enjoy failures more than success. As long as it’s diverse, they like to explore the failure space of a game.” -Will Wright, Game DesignerFriday, February 1, 13Will Wright, designer of popular games like SimCity, Spore, and The SIMS, made thiscomment. Do we provide our learners to opportunities to fail safely? Can they learn fromtheir failures? This pattern of play/testing, failing, and re-trying is very similar to what weteach when teaching the scientific method. Do you fail in front of your students?
  16. 16. Failure is different in the classroom...Friday, February 1, 13Too often, failure has punitive consequences in the classroom. Consider this... A 68% in myclassroom SHOULD mean that the learner has mastered 68% of the course concepts. Theyonly have 32% to go! Well over half-way there! However, that’s not how we do it. What dowe tell them? “You’ve failed the course.” This is usually followed by the learner repeating thesame course, with the same material, and often with the same teacher. Is threateningstudents with this sort of system the best way to do it? Which do we value more, learning orgrades?
  17. 17. #5 TOGETHER, WE CAN overcome THE TOUGHEST BOSSESFriday, February 1, 13In recent surveys corporate America has told education what they’re looking for in newemployees. Guess what... the three “R’s” though important, are low on the priority list. Getready to be offended, but seriously, how often have you used Algebra II or your extensiveknowledge of the capitals of Europe, or endoplasmic reticulum since you left high school? Wecan Google the stuff that resides in Bloom’s basement. What businesses say they want areemployees who can work in diverse teams, who can deal with novel situations, who caninnovate and create! Yeah, there’s a disconnect here! However, social video games,especially multiplayer, online games force us to do these things to be successful. And, it’sfun.
  18. 18. #6 Epic Wins Are PossibleFriday, February 1, 13Video games often put players in a position in which they feel they can do incredible things.Games encourage players to have the audacity to believe they can achieve the impossible. Doyour learners feel like the concepts you’re teaching them can change the world? Do you thinkwhat you’re teaching can change the world? If not, then consider challenging your kids withreal-world problems. Give your kids options. Australia hosts the Imagine Cup ( to challenge students to do this very thing. If youchallenged your kids to have an epic win, could they? Do you believe they could?
  19. 19. “In a good game we feel blissfully productive. We have clear goals and a heroic sense of purpose.” Jane McGonigal, Institute for the FutureFriday, February 1, 13In her TED talk, Jane McGonigal, from the Institute for the Future, challenges people to dosomething that seems, at first, counterintuitive. What if we played more games? Lots more.What if we took that game-ful spirit and applied it to solving the world’s problems? What’sreally cool, is that this is already happening! In the free game, FoldIt, players from aroundthe world team up to manipulate protein models to find different configurations that mightbe useful to medicine. In 2011, they successfully accomplished something, collectively, thatwould have taken scientists many years to do. They unlocked a protein that could have ahuge impact in the fight against AIDS. (Read more, here:
  20. 20. THREE Game- Based Projects We’re Doing With our LearnersFriday, February 1, 13
  21. 21. MMO-School aka WoWinSchoolFriday, February 1, 13Classroom Cataclysm (…or, what happens to “school” when learners become heroes.).By: Lucas Gillispie, Instructional Technology Coordinator, Pender County SchoolsFounder, WoWinSchool Project ( background image by Blizzard Entertainment.Rock Background -
  22. 22. An Elective/Enrichment Class for Middle School StudentsFriday, February 1, 13We initially began as an after school program. Observations of our club during the first yearprompted the principal at Cape Fear Middle to request that we offer the program as anelective language arts/enrichment class.
  23. 23. Blended/Hybrid Course Paperl ess Granu Port lar able Freely Available Migrated to: Originally built inFriday, February 1, 13First off, we wanted to use this class as an opportunity to test lots of the things we believeabout learning and how we can “change the classroom.” The first thing we decided is thatthe class should be a blended environment, with both face-to-face and online components.We want to be paperless. The course will be portable and freely available to any other schoolwho might want to start their own program. The granular nature of the Moodle environmentallows us to pick and choose (and the learners, too) what components we want to focus onand the order of instruction.
  24. 24. Aligned to National Common Core StandardsFriday, February 1, 13All activities and assignments will be aligned to the National Common Core standards.
  25. 25. The ThemeFriday, February 1, 13Our theme is loosely based on the Hero’s Journey story arc.
  26. 26. Experiences As A Hero In WoW and GW2Friday, February 1, 13Here the learner explores their own experiences as a hero in World of Warcraft as theyprogress through the game world.
  27. 27. Parallel Reading AssignmentFriday, February 1, 13Alongside their game experiences, we’re reading “The Hobbit” and watching Bilbo’sprogression as a hero in that world. It’s fantastic “writing-fuel” to draw parallels betweenBilbo’s journey and their own.
  28. 28. Reflection on Life ExperiencesFriday, February 1, 13We also tie in class experiences to the real-life experiences of our learners. Journaling is aheavy component.
  29. 29. Friday, February 1, 13These elements define the overall design.
  30. 30. Gamifying The ClassroomFriday, February 1, 13We wanted to use World of Warcraft (and other similar games) as a model for how we operatethe classroom. Could we apply the very things that make World of Warcraft a compellinggaming experience to the classroom? With Moodle, this was incredibly challenging. Asforward-thinking as the platform is, it’s still very traditional. Then comes Boise State’s3DGameLab that accomplished everything we were straining to do with Moodle! (
  31. 31. “Heroes” Not StudentsFriday, February 1, 13First off, we want to change the conversation. To students, we really don’t want this to looklike “school” at least in the sense they typically think of it. Students are referred to as“Heroes.”
  32. 32. ore Keepers” “L Not TeachersFriday, February 1, 13Teachers are taking on the role of Lorekeeper. Rather than “telling” students, we comealongside them, guiding their learning as they progress. It’s really important too for us toplay with them in the game!
  33. 33. Instead of Grades…Friday, February 1, 13We hate grades. At least, the common concept of grades. So we knew early on, we wantedto break from the traditional grading model.
  34. 34. …experience points I “Win” The ClassFriday, February 1, 13Here again, the game provides a model for measuring progression. So, we adopted anexperience point and levels system. Students may complete course activities as often as theylike to earn as many XP as they can. Each assignment has a guiding rubric that explains howto attain maximum XP. We intentionally used large numbers to break away from theingrained 100-point, percentage based scale.
  35. 35. “Quests” Not AssignmentsFriday, February 1, 13We write assignments as though they are quests. These assignments to varying degrees tiedirectly to student game play in World of Warcraft.
  36. 36. L earner ChoiceFriday, February 1, 13Likewise, students can choose a variety of paths through the curriculum. It’s very non-linear(very challenging for me as a traditional Biology teacher). Students choose their path andprogress through “quest chains” until they complete them. These might quests on poetry,digital citizenship, argumentative writing, and business writing to name just a few. If you’dlike to see our “map” of the quest chains, you can find it here: The flexibility of the system allows us to respond to student’s needs and changeseasily.
  37. 37. Stats and AchievementsFriday, February 1, 133DGameLab also gives us an easy way to handle badging and recognition of studentachievement (both intrinsically and extrinsically). Likewise students can track and comparetheir progress through their quests.
  38. 38. Some Student ProjectsFriday, February 1, 13Here are some examples of student work thus far…
  39. 39. Character TweetsFriday, February 1, 13The pre-Cataclysm events gave us exciting fuel for a variety of assignments. One of themost interesting was having students choose a character from the world, and “tweet” theevents unfolding in the game leading up to the launch of the Cataclysm expansion. Here,students had a relevant and fun way to demonstrate their understanding of the storyline andcharacterization.
  40. 40. Propaganda/AdsFriday, February 1, 13We also used the Cataclysm event as an opportunity to explore Propaganda and Advertising.Students created ads or propaganda posters like this one.
  41. 41. Friday, February 1, 13Or this one…
  42. 42. Friday, February 1, 13…or this one.
  43. 43. Research/Argumentative Writing Bilbo - The Rogue by Borconyx I think that Bilbo would be a rogue, considering that his nickname is Burglar Baggins. I think this because "stealth is the first class ability a rogue can get"(Rogue 1). Stealth is needed to be a good burglar because you cant wake the guards and you can`t make noise or the alarms will go off. Even Gandalf stated that " you look more like a burglar than a grocer"(Tolkien 18). Plus, Bilbo is smart. I think that would make him a rogue because rogues are intelligent enough to know that when you turn invisible that you need to be quiet because going invisible doesnt mean they can`t hear you. Works Cited "Rogue Talents." WoWWiki. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Jan 2011.<http://>. Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. New York: Del Rey Books, 1937. 320. Print.Friday, February 1, 13We posed the following to students. “If the characters in the Hobbit were characters in Worldof Warcraft, what “class” would they be? Support your arguments. This is an example of onestudent’s response. This writing takes place in the course forums. Learners receive feedbackfrom both their instructor and their fellow learners.
  44. 44. Guild Emblems and Symbols in Guild Wars 2 DOUBLE IDENTITY My emblem depicts a two-sided bird. One side is black and the other, blue. I like to think of these birds as duality. On one hand, I reveal to others that I am a fighter, and on the other hand, I conceal my fear. The blue represents what you see, what is visible and shown to other people. While, the black part of the bird represents our mask. While we show some things, we also hide something. In addition, the black represents the unknown. What is hidden, what cant be shown, or what never will be. The black also hides who we really are. Its our shield. Its what keeps our secrets hidden all except for one. The red smudge behind the birds represents blood. Blood shows that we are willing to sacrifice and fight no matter what it takes to set things right, even if we must kill to defend others. We believe in giving up our lives to fight for what is right. This emblem represents what our guild is. It shows who we really are. The black side shows that were strong, that nobody is like us. But this is what the blue for: the blue side shows that were actually all the same. Were all scared that well loose the battle, or that we wont make this certain mission. Were scared well fail or mess up. Were all the same.Friday, February 1, 13
  45. 45. Writing Guild Mission Statements The purpose of this guild is to encourage students to learn about fantasy literature, games, and writing. The Legacy gives students from around the world the opportunity to play the epic game, "World of Warcraft." We make every effort to join together as a team and show that that we are eager, fearless, and victorious to make things happen. Learning through writing, games, stories and fantasy literature is something students will never forget. –MonchyFriday, February 1, 13Guilds are a hugely important aspect of the game. Students are working to create andorganize their own guild that will also work with students at other sites. This is not only anopportunity to explore leadership but also a chance for them to define what a guild shouldbe. So, we had them write mission statements. This example was submitted by one of ourELL students.
  46. 46. Fan Fiction Holiadore. It is a name of honor and pride. He has not yet lived up to the dream, but this night elf will train and train in the ways of the druid until he achieves his ultimate goal- to be as good as his father. His father never had pride in him so Holiadore ran away from home as a child and has practiced the ways of the druid ever since. He uses the skins of his foes to craft armor to use against stronger foes. He goes through many perils to do the bidding of the townspeople. He, in doing so, trains his abilities until they can increase no more. And when he reaches his ultimate goal, he will return to the place where he was raised, the place that, once, his family lived. And he will place flowers upon his fathers grave, and continue in his practices. This is the story of Holiadore.Friday, February 1, 13Students are writing short stories about their WoW characters.
  47. 47. Ten Schools and Growing!Friday, February 1, 13
  48. 48. Friday, February 1, 13Our second major game-based project in PCS was the integration of the popular buildinggame, Minecraft ( Here, students can work together to build,model, and play in a persistent virtual world. The possibilities for connecting to curriculumare only limited by your imagination. (You can learn more about this project at
  49. 49. Sandbox No Subcription Game Fees Locally Hosted Servers Appropriate Flexible! for all ages K-12Friday, February 1, 13There are lots of advantages to Minecraft, too. It’s incredibly cost-effective. You canpurchase individual accounts for around $18 and sets of 25 for around $325 from There are no recurring fees either. Once you own it, you own it.The game scales beautifully, too. We’ve successfully used it with early elementary all the wayup to high school and the kids at all levels love it. (The teachers do, too!) You can also hostyour own, persistent world, on your own network, too, making it as open or closed as youwish.
  50. 50. Buildings and StructuresFriday, February 1, 13Students are incredibly imaginative in their builds, too. Here’s a castle built by a first gradercomplete with moat, bridge, and decorative roof.
  51. 51. ContraptionsFriday, February 1, 13Minecraft also allows you to build functional contraptions, too. Rollercoasters, traps, vendingmachines, and even fully functional calculators are possible.
  52. 52. 8-bit ArtFriday, February 1, 13One art teacher in our district is having her learners build architecture and 8-bit art in thevirtual space.
  53. 53. Story And Game AcademyFriday, February 1, 13This year (2012-2013), we’re launching a new a game-based project that will take us intonearly every imaginable game space. It’s called SAGA (
  54. 54. XBox, PS3, iPad, Handhelds, PC, Card Story Analysis and Board Games Digital Storytelling Game Reviews Professional DevelopmentFriday, February 1, 13 Play PlayStill the early stages of development, this program aims to leverage gaming on just aboutevery platform possible to demonstrate... it’s possible! We’re transforming spaces intogaming and learning spaces with XBox, PlayStation, Nintendo, iPad, PC’s, handhelds, andmore. Learners in this program will be writing and publishing game reviews, analyzing thestory elements of popular games, and even using those games to create and tell their ownstories. We’re really excited about it.
  55. 55. Friday, February 1, 13
  56. 56. Friday, February 1, 13
  57. 57. A story about a girl...Friday, February 1, 13
  58. 58. Questions?Friday, February 1, 13
  59. 59. Friday, February 1, 13A typical question or concern about World of Warcraft and video games in general is the issueof violence. This is interesting in the light that we celebrate literature such as Romeo andJuliet which has significant violence. And what about football? We celebrate that. Violence is(unfortunately) a part of our human condition. Not dealing with it or discussing it serves noone. How many of us watched Looney Toons, played war, or even read Grimm’s Fairy Tales?Typical children understand this fantasy play and easily separate it from real life. Ask them.“Would it be appropriate to attack someone with a sword or gun in the real world?” They’llquickly tell you no.
  60. 60. Friday, February 1, 13Dr. Henry Jenkins has a great article at: