The past two months we’ve been designing applied games for an honors course called the Learning Lab. The games are designed to offer a structure in which things are learned through play and reflection. That’s the idea, anyway.
Another thing that supports this reflection is a portal where all students have a blog that is to be posted on daily. The students share their experiences with everyone else within the course. This works fine. But students sharing thoughts on each other’s blogs, reflecting on each other if you will, is – apparently – a step too far.
And so it was up to us to create something that would get this interaction between students going, get ’m to appreciate each others blogs and hard work. And very maybe also sometimes throw some negative energy around, just to keep people on their toes.
It was not before long that we had decided we needed a game that involved monkeys, bananas, feces and – of course – a blind dragon. The idea was that every day 30 new bananas grew on the big banana tree. These bananas could be handed out by students to other students, never to themselves. The bananas could then be eaten, producing banana peels and, the next day, feces. The feces could be thrown towards each other, the peels kept for defense. Defense for when the blind dragon would come to visit. It would then go for the smelliest monkey around (he’s blind!) and trip on all the peels lying around (he’s blind!). I guess what the monkeys were aiming for, was a good peels / feces ratio (many peels, few feces).
It goes without saying that this game did exactly what we wanted it to do. People gave bananas to each other on blogs, giving it actual meaning (hey, nice blog! great insight! have some bananas +2). Though people threw feces at one another with certain caution: throwing feces at someone did not feel too good. People logged in at 14:30 to throw last minute feces if we told ’m 15:00 was the deadline. In other words, it was a succes.
Last week we ended the monkey game by bringing a dragon pinata to class. The top 3 monkeys (best ratio) were allowed to, well, completely demolish the dragon:
This banana game will be taken to the next level over the coming couple of weeks. We’ll attempt to create a system in which students interact in an intuitive and fun way. The most exciting challenge: How can we introduce a serious feedback loop without compromising the fun-factor we promote as game-designers?