Game Design 101: Guiding Questions for Students

Laura and Katie (now in the seventh grade) love all kinds of games. When their mother, June, heard about the Game-a-thon challenge (a hands-on math activity) last year and recognized JiJi from their elementary school program, ST Math, she engaged the twins and their friends in the challenge.

We asked June, Laura and Katie a few questions about their experience, and their advice on how other students, parents and teachers can get started creating a game for the Game-a-thon. Based on our interview and chatting with other participants, here are some facilitating questions the mentor (parent, guardian or teacher) can ask the team of students to jump-start the game design process:

• What are some of your favorite games?
• How can we categorize different games?
• What do your favorite games have in common?
• What do you think defines a great game?
• If you had to pick one game, which game should we model our own game after?
• What math concepts interest you?
• What different types of games we talked about would work well with those math concepts?

Board games, video games and card games as well as games from last year’s Game-a-thon challenge are great examples to facilitate the discussion!

June led Laura, Katie and their friends through a similar brainstorming session last year when they entered the Game-a-thon.

Laura and Katie were excited to talk about “Legend of Zelda”, their all-time favorite series of games. They liked that the games involve problem solving and thinking creatively. According to Laura and Katie, a great game must be engaging, encourage the gamer to keep playing, and incorporate both learning and fun. With this in mind, Laura and Katie brainstormed about the theme for their board game. They liked the theme of mythological travels, since they were reading the Percy Jackson series and “The Odyssey,” as well as the connection to math through travel and geography.

Watch their video about the board game:

Laura gave this advice to students looking to create their own board game this year: “Keep it simple! If it is too complicated or hard to explain to a new player, you have to cut it from the game.”

June also has this advice to give to other mentors: “Help your children get started with ideas and examples, but once they get going, let them go and create!”

Laura and Katie plan on entering again this year with an app instead of a board game. With a Multimedia Fusion class under their belt, they feel prepared to build an app by July 15th, the competition deadline. We can’t wait to see and play their game!

About the Author

Calli Wright was the Marketing Manager at MIND Research Institute. She loves playing and designing board games, which she often talks about on twitter @CalliWrights.

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