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The game design process

Video Help

Duration: 4:7

Teacher, Chris Johnston explains game design is really good authentic context to take an integrated learning approach. In this inquiry, students developed skills in geometry, measurement, probability, English, and technology. He outlines the notosh model  design thinking model he used with his students. Chris explains, "the immersion part is really important because it exposes kids to new ideas. It meant playing board games and starting to develop our critical thinking skills and our language about how we talked about them." During this phase, local game designers came into the classroom to share their expertise.

Students went right through the design process from concept to building a finished game. Student, Charlie commented, "My favourite bit was probably getting to play the game and have a finished product. It was quite nice to get better at saying, 'Well I really want to do this. It's not going to work, so I'll just have to leave it at that.'"

Audio Visual description
  Title slide:
The game design process
enabling e-Learning
Filmed at Rāroa Normal Intermediate School
Chris Johnston, teacher
Game design is a really awesome inquiry because it hits a lot of different boxes. The first thing is it's a really good authentic context to do a bunch of different learning in, so teaching around geometry, measurement, percentages, and probability fits really nicely into it.
Chris, seated, facing camera.
But if you play a modern board game today you'll see that they use theme, and story, and all of those sorts elements to help create that experience. Students showing boxed game, ”Top Chef”, and game pieces.
We look for an authentic context for the inquiry, an improvable idea, and something that really captures student interests. Part of our process for the boardgame design inquiry was using the design thinking process. Chris, seated, facing camera.
The NoTosh Model is the one that we use. Diagram of NoTosh Model .
The first thing you do is you start off with something that is exciting and hooks the kids in. We also kind of led that into immersion as well. The immersion part is really important because it exposes kids to new ideas. It meant playing board games and starting to develop our critical thinking skills. And our language about how we talked about them. Chris, seated, facing camera.

We were really lucky during the immersion phase to bring in some local game designers. So we had Shem Philips and Sam McDonald who have both published games through Kickstarter .

So, for the first four weeks of term we spent a lot of time playing a lot of different games.

Children in classroom playing games.
The other thing we did is we did a quick game jam, right so, kind of similar to a code jam. Post-it notes of ideas covering wall.
We give kids a prompt we say you're making a game like this. This is the amount of time you have to do it and then they get into it. Chris, seated, facing camera.
Sophie, year 8 student
So basically we started off by looking at other games that were real. So we all went in groups and looked at them. We would see some core mechanics to try and get ideas to inspire us for our board game.
Sophie and Charlie, seated, facing camera.
Chris
So you move from immersion into ideation and the ideation part's really important because again you want to explore multiple ideas before settling on one.
Diagram of NoTosh Model , with “Immersion” column highlighted.
It's really important when going through ideation that we don't just go with our first idea because it may not be our strongest.

Students together in classroom.

Student writing on worksheet “Greenlight Checklist”

So part of the way that we do that is we let them come up with a bunch of different ideas for a theme or start from a mechanic, right, I want to make a game that is about racing to the finish. Chris, seated, facing camera.
Once you have that idea you can start adding different parts on top of it. Why are we racing to the finish? Template for recording ideas about game features.

Or maybe it's because we're being chased by something right and then that might evolve into one of the games which was Survival Run.

After going through ideation, the kids then selected which games they felt were worth making and they started going down the process of prototyping.

Chris, seated, facing camera.
Their prototyping process involves stripping the game right back to its basics. Diagram of NoTosh Model , with “Prototyping” column highlighted.
And we're really asking two questions each time we do a test. Was this fun? Are players making interesting choices? Chris, seated, facing camera.
I'm going to prototype mostly by myself to start and I'm going to use mostly paper as well just because I want to do it very, very quickly. Game boards, dice, counters.
Once I'm confident with the idea that I've built up, I might share it to someone else and go, “Hey how does this play when you play it?” And getting that outside feedback is also really important for me. Chris, seated, facing camera.
Annika, year 8 student
We did do a lot of prototyping and so for each prototype that we made, we we got some of our friends or peers to come and role test, like play test our game, and so they would then give us feedback.
Annika, facing camera.
Chris
The last stage in our prototyping is doing our blind play testing.
Chris, seated, facing camera.
So I would take the game that I have, I take the instructions I've written up and I would give it to someone completely new and I'd step out of the room and see if they can play it. That test is really important because it says how other people are interpreting the rules that I've written. Annika and Molly playing board game.
And if they can get the idea of the game just from what's given to them in the box. Chris, seated, facing camera.
The main thing that came out of the inquiry was that night where we shared everything back. So we set up our learning street like a board game cafe. Kids had, you know, food that they were being provided and the chance to sit down with family and friends and play the games that they’d made. Students playing board games.
Their games weren’t their finished or final products. But a really good prototype of what their final product might look like. Chris, seated, facing camera.
Charlie
My favourite bit was probably getting to, I guess play the game and have a finished product and know that there were a lot of stuff ups and there may have been ideas and I'm super excited for. It was quite nice to get better at saying, “Well I really want to do this. It's not going to work, so I'll just have to leave it at that.”
Sophie and Charlie, seated, facing camera.

Tags: Primary, Upper primary, Cross-curricular, Technology, Student inquiry, Learning design, STEM/STEAM, Integrated curriculum, Design thinking


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