Hubbub has gone into hibernation.

Much obliged, +1 banana

with candy!

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?

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  1. Posted July 13, 2011 at 14:18 | Permalink

    Hi Syl­van, I would like to con­grat­u­late you for hav­ing this banana game a suc­cess and for hav­ing it to its next lev­el. Sounds like a fun game. I had also been a stu­dent and it is real­ly impor­tant that your stu­dents get to inter­act intu­itive­ly and with fun. This way, they will be more atten­tive and active in class and will not get bore easily.

    David Annis­ton

  2. Posted August 24, 2011 at 14:45 | Permalink

    I read this with some fas­ci­na­tion hav­ing a par­tic­u­lar inter­est in how learn­ing can be accom­plished through play. The idea of throw­ing some neg­a­tive ener­gy into the pot some­how struck me as nov­el though I guess it should not have done. I won­der exact­ly if there is an opti­mum amount to add to pro­duce the best result? It will be most inter­est­ing to see how your game devel­ops and what gen­er­al con­clu­sions can be drawn from it.