Throughout this learning sequence students will use a game design process to create a game. They will empathise with the audience and use text and diagrams to develop their design. They will prototype and test their game just like game designers do.
Explain to students that they will be making their own games. They will share the games at a showcase for the school community, and will receive feedback.
Throughout this process they will learn that:
Students will use the design thinking process to create a game that meets a design brief or audience. The design thinking process helps designers to make a successful game by enabling them to understand the users (the people who are going to play or buy the game). The process involves understanding user design needs, generating innovative and creative ideas, planning and evaluating.
This part of the design thinking process is about understanding the people that students will be building games for. This involves finding out about the users by observing or engaging with them to understand why and how they play games as well as investigating games they play. Once students understand the users more they can define what is important in the games they make. Ask students to choose some of the activities below to empathise with the users.
Develop a list of features of different games and consider what successful games do well. Give students time to play different games and explore the different elements of a game.
Review a set of instructions for a game.
Survey users about their likes.
Invite an expert game maker to talk about what elements are important in a game. What games have they designed and why did they design them?
Ask students from across the school to play games. Observe their behaviour when playing the games. Do they read the instructions or skip over them? Do they turn the music down? Do they become frustrated? Do they give up or keep playing? Which games are the most popular?
Ideation is the part of the process where students come up with ideas for their game. At this stage you may want students to form groups to work on their games.
Start by encouraging students to get down as many ideas as possible. Give them 10 minutes to get down 50 ideas in their groups. You may choose to do this on poster paper or using sticky notes. Explain to students that this is not a time to discuss the ideas but to get them down. Give students time to discuss and choose the idea they wish to develop and prototype.
Now that students have an idea it is time to get the idea on to paper and draw out how it will work. Students will use poster paper to design their games and to show how a user will step through the different stages or user input scenarios.
There are a number of ways that a design can be created depending on the style of game they are going to make. Storyboards are good for story-based games where each box will show how a user will step through a game. A branching diagram or flow chart can be used for games with decision-making to show 'if this, then that' occurrences.
Encourage students to include as much detail as possible to show how the game will work and what the user will do at each stage. This will help when they are trying to build the game. It will be helpful for them to think about the design as something they could hand over to someone else to create. To help them think this way, students should ask themselves the question 'Could someone make this game using just my design?'
There are a number of different game-making platforms that you could use – it may depend on what the students are familiar with and what they have access to through your school. Provide students with some sandbox time to explore different platforms, such as those below. Students will need to consider which platform will allow them to create their design the best. Students will find that while each platform will have some limitations for creating their design, they can choose the one that suits them best.
After students have had an opportunity to explore the different platforms they can begin to prototype their designs. They may have to move away from their initial design as they start to build their prototype.
Explain to students that when they are building their games, they will come across many different decisions that need to be made. Sometimes things don’t work as well as planned or a new idea will come to mind. Encourage them to test their games as they are building them so that they can see if something isn’t going the way they planned. They should make changes as they go to continually improve on their design with each new iteration.
Explain to students that it is important to have people test their games to ensure they are meeting the goals of what they wanted to create. Setting up a testing time could involve inviting people from the school community to test the games such as students from another classroom, parents and school community members or expert game makers you may have connected with. It may also involve having the different groups playing each other’s games.
To get the most out of the testing students can create a feedback form to ask for anonymous feedback from the users. Questions should be developed with the class and could include the following areas:
Another aspect to testing is to observe the behaviour of the users to see if they play the game as envisaged. Students will need to watch a user playing the game, taking notes of the decisions they make and how they play. Students should keep an eye out for when the user becomes lost or doesn’t know what to do next. These observations can be recorded on an Observation recording sheet.
Once the testing stage is completed it is important to make changes to the prototype in response to the feedback given. Discuss with students what they noticed when people played their games and what changes they might make.
To make this lesson sequence meaningful, a showcase can be developed to share the games. This can be achieved by organising a showcase at the school or setting up a blog or website to share the games and gather feedback from others.
If creating a showcase at your school find a location and set up a table for each group. Provide a device that visitors can use to play the game. Students can share their design, talk about the platform they used to make the game and explain the process they went through.
The same process can be followed if setting up an online showcase. You can embed or link to the students' game and students can write an overview of their game for the blog or website.
After the showcase provide students with time to consider their process, what worked well and any challenges they had. Ask them to respond to the following questions.