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Step 2: Game Prototyping

The 2nd step of the lab Ludopedagogy: Design and Learning was held on May 16th, 2023, in French. During this co-creative workshop, the participants discussed useful strategies and ideas to implement educational game prototyping.

Dominic Claveau, teacher at LaSalle College, started by sharing his experience with game implementation in his courses. He presented, among other things, the role-playing game Shock that he and his colleague Richard Fortier have adapted for their students.

Then, Myriam Gauthier, pedagogical advisor at the Collège Regina Assumpta, presented the essential basics to make playing in a pedagogical context fun and interesting for both students and teachers. These basics come from the pedagogical guide Créer des jeux pour sa classe [in French], a tool jointly created by herself and Mathieu Gauthier. This guide introduces game mechanics and the steps involved in creating a game that would last 1 hour with a total of 36 players.

Myriam showed us how to proceed:

  • select educational content, a theme, and at least one game mechanic
  • link them together to create a game script as credible as possible and with the fewest flaws possible.

The 1st step of the process presented by Myriam is to make a choice about the educational content. We must identify:

  • the time in our teaching sequence when the game will take place (as a lesson starter, a hands-on workshop, or a review activity)
  • the selected content according to the knowledge and competencies we wish the students to develop
  • our pedagogical objective

The 2nd step is to choose one or more game mechanics. The basic mechanics (mécaniques simples) featured in the guide work well in a learning context involving short periods of games. Myriam suggests that a mechanic involving points would be the easiest to use when beginning with game design.

Myriam also mentioned that the inspiration for the games could come from all around, as much from the content we want to work on as from a game mechanic that appeals to us. Therefore, the first 2 steps can be reversed. However, starting from the pedagogical objective ensures the creation of a game supporting the learning objective. When we start with an idea for a whole game, we might attempt to make the teaching content at the service of the game instead of the opposite, and then miss out on the objective.

The 3rd step is to write a game script. The goal is to align the content and the mechanic. The script is essential to have a logical game. Each added component has to be related to the theme.

During the lab activity, in small-group discussions, the participants identified:

  1. a concept and a pedagogical objective to develop in order to design a game
  2. a mechanic that would support this game content and pedagogical objective

Recording of the 1st part of the 2nd step of the lab (in French) | Introduction, pedagogical content and experience sharing

Recording of the 2nd part of the 2nd step of the lab (in French)| Plenary and mechanics

Recording of the 3rd part of the 2nd step of the lab (in French) | Plenary, script writing, and conclusion

In the plenaries following each discussion activity in breakout rooms, some questions and hesitations on game implementation in the classroom were expressed:

  • Aren’t games fostering knowledge development more than competencies?
  • Is the time spent designing a game useful for developing the required competencies?
  • Do I have the skills to design a « good » game? Will I find mechanics that work according to my context or discipline?
  • Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to have the students develop the game themselves to free up time?

Some elements supporting educational game design were also raised:

  • Encouraging student engagement is an asset.
  • By keeping our pedagogical objective in mind, we can only design a valuable game to help develop the students’ competencies.
  • We must begin by creating basic games to slowly familiarize ourselves with the process. This is beneficial to both students and teachers.

During the 3rd step of this lab, to be held in the fall of 2023, we will discuss the sharing and pooling of games.

If you wish to join us for this 3rd step, we suggest doing your homework: try designing a game that you could use in your courses, in light of the discussions we had in the 2 first steps!

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