As a fourth grader last year, Hana participated in the 2014 K-12 Game-a-thon. The Game-a-thon challenges students to design, build and share their own math game - any kind they want.
Hana, with her two friends Ava and Maddy, chose to create a board game. The game, "Candy Thief," is a captivating mix of rich gameplay, challenging math questions and colorful candy-inspired design (right down to the striped candy-cane borders). The goal of the game is to buy and deliver five pieces of candy to the king with an enormous sweet tooth. If you happen to be caught by the eponymous candy thieves who can steal your candy or money, you can escape by successfully answering a challenging math question.
We got together with Hana and her mom April to share what she learned while creating this exciting game. She also shared some great advice for aspiring student designers in this year's 2015 Game-a-thon.
Let's see what Hana had to say:
How did you first hear about the Game-a-thon? I heard about it from my mom, who had met some of the MIND staff and heard about the Game-a-thon.
How did you decide on the concept for your game? What inspired you? A week or two earlier at school in math class we had an assignment to invent a math board game. I would have been lost if it wasn't for a few days before that at indoor recess my friend Isabel and I started the basics of a fun new game involving candy.
How did you test your game so others could play it? I had a play date with some of my friends and said, “Do you want to test out my game?” We played to find the flaws and errors so we could see where we needed to improve. The best way to find the mistakes is to just play the game.
What skills did you learn or improve on during the Game-a-thon? Well while I was making the video for the game, I learned a lot about making movies on this thing on my computer called Movie Maker. I learned how to add in the narrations, videos and credits.
How is math used to play your game? If you land on a Thief Math Genius Card you have to answer a challenging math equation. There is also adding and subtracting money.
What resources did you use to help you build your game? We needed to laminate everything and we knew someone who owned a laminator so we borrowed it and I learned how to use it.
What did you like best about the Game-a-thon? I really enjoyed making the video. It was a very fun and new experience.
What advice would you have for students looking to build their games this year? Find an area you really like in math and then think of a game you really love to play. Don't copy the game but getting the flow of ideas into your mind will help you get to a good start. Also play your game every few times you make a correction so you can see if it's fun and makes sense.
Thank you to Hana and April for sharing their insights into the Game-a-thon design process!
Hana and her friends didn’t just learn math, they also developed key skills like design, communication, and collaboration. These skills live beyond the Game-a-thon -- for Hana, she learned a lot about game designing and math, but also video creation, thinking critically about testing and iterating on a design concept, as well as using available resources (like the friend with the laminating machine).
Check out Hana’s amazing video about her game “Candy Thief”:
If you're as inspired as we are, take a look at how YOU can participate in this year's 2015 Game-a-thon:
About the Author
Calli Wright is the Education Engagement Manager at MIND Research Institute. She loves playing and designing board games, which she often talks about on twitter @CalliWrights.