One of the optional challenges for my gamification class that I have been meaning to get to is the “Help, I’m Trapped in a VIdeo Game!” quest – the challenge was to create a game using the platform Sploder.com and grapple with the intricacies of game creation. After creating, we are encouraged to share the game with our students, write about our experiences, etc.
For my “Where Am I Now?” post this week, I would like to focus on my experience with using Sploder to create my game, “aMAZEing Problem Solving” (check it out here if you’re interested in playing!). Prior to this experience, I had never created a game before – or, at least not one online – so this was a definite learning experience for me.
Starting off, there are several different options for game platforms you can choose. Sploder does a nice job allowing you to choose basic options and then customize them to make them your own. I ended up choosing the maze style one, as I wanted to explore something a bit different from the more traditional video game style. Growing up, logic puzzles were always a great interest of mine, so I wanted to see if I could incorporate them within my own ‘game.’ Admittedly, I also chose a logic-based game because I assumed that if I had previously had success with logic, this would come more naturally to me.
Initially, I’ll admit that I was incredibly frustrated with the building aspect. Though Sploder has done a nice job providing a tutorial and information about how to build the level, I still found myself, as many of my students do, rushing through the directions and trying to figure it out by myself.
This did not go well.
Realizing the error of my ways, I went back to the drawing board, rereading the directions and trying to be purposeful about the information I was providing. Soon, I had successfully designed Level 1 as a training level to introduce players to the game. I really appreciated the aspect of being able to add messages throughout the game, though I do wish they were a bit more prevalent – they are in pop-up style, but only at the bottom of the screen, so missing them is a definite possibility.
During the building process, I peppered my maze with logic puzzles – sequencing, numbers, etc. for the players to solve. Feeling confident about the way Level 1 was looking, I decided to test the level, logic puzzles and all. I quickly picked up on the keyboard controls and movement but, upon encountering a logic puzzle, was given a large dose of humility. I ignored the directions given, and tried to breeze through by just plugging in numbers I thought made sense. After several failed attempts and mounting embarrassment, I was feeling something like:
Eventually, I got the hang of the logic puzzles and set out to build Levels 2 and 3. Having experienced the success of building a first level, my second undertaking of constructing Levels 2 and 3 went much more smoothly. I added hidden power-ups and even incorporated a “boss” enemy to beat at the end of Level 3*
Overall, this was a great learning experience for me as a creator of a game. I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment at having created something that I could potentially use with my students. Ironically, I think one of the things my game emphasizes is the importance of reading directions closely, as many of the tips and tricks are nestled in the message boards themselves. Moving forward, I’m hopeful to find some time this week to ‘beta test’ this game with my kids and see what they think. Many of the students in my third grade class are ‘gamers’ and may take to the game naturally. If I do decide to go through with that, i’ll be sure to share my experience and let you know how it goes.
Until then, I’m off to play one more round of “aMAZEing Problem Solving” as a brain break before I delve into more lesson planning for the week.
* We won’t talk about how many times I died before I beat the boss of my own game…