Lesson 3: Problem Solving: How to Improve Your World
Students will learn how to solve problems using a technique called the iterative process.
Students will practice solving problems by brainstorming, designing, testing, and improving an original game.
Worksheet 3, computer access, a combination of indoor and outdoor play items such as tennis balls, rubber bands, paper clips, spinners, egg timers, hula hoops, cups, streamers, decks of cards, sidewalk chalk, ping-pong balls, flags, pens, whistles, colored tape, stopwatches, dice, etc.
Before class begins, place a selection of game items (as noted above) on a table in your classroom.
Time required: 45 minutes, plus game design time
What to do:
1. Separate students into the groups they were in for Lesson 2 and ask them to reread their game rules.
2. Tell students that they will be using a problem-solving technique called the iterative process to improve their games. Explain: The iterative process is a way of finding an answer by repeating a cycle of activities. Each time you go through the cycle, you should come closer to your answer.
3. Draw the iterative cycle diagram on the board and review the definitions of think, design, play/test, and change. Ask: How do you think the iterative process could be helpful in perfecting games?
4. Review the definitions below to help students think creatively about how their game is designed.
6. Give groups 20 minutes to create and design their game. As the groups work on their games, ask questions such as:
- What are the things you can do with your two materials?
- What actions do players do with the play pieces?
- What are the rules of the game?
- What is the play space of the game?
- What is the goal of the game?
7. Instruct groups to play/test one another's games. Make sure each group has time to have their game played at least once.
8. Provide time for groups to change aspects of their games that didn't work. If time allows, repeat the iterative process so groups come closer to creating a clear, challenging, and fun game.
9. Review the iterative process. Ask: Would the iterative process be useful in other problem-solving situations? How would an architect use it? How would a scientist use it? How would a chef use it?
10. Challenge student groups to create a video game, based on the game they have created. Go to http://www.activategames.org/gettingstarted and sign in. Then follow the directions to create an original video game.
Encourage your students in grades 7-12 to submit their video game designs to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for the chance to earn scholarships and awards. Click here for information and registration details. Collaborations are welcome!
Actions: Actions are the things players do to reach the game's goals. In checkers, the actions include moving your play pieces and capturing your opponent's play pieces. In basketball, the actions include running, jumping, passing, dribbling, and shooting.
Change: Once the play/test is over, think about how fun the game was and if the players understood how to play. Then make changes to your game and play/test it again.
Decisions: Decisions are the choices players make during the game. In basketball, the decisions include whether to pass or shoot. In Super Mario Brothers®, decisions include whether to jump over enemies or on enemies.
Design: Once you have thought about your game design idea, it is time to make your game. Creating the goals and rules for your game are two important parts of game design.
Game: All games have rules players follow to reach their goal. The rules of a game let players know what actions they can take, which play pieces they can use, and what play space they will use to reach the game's goals.
Goal: All games have goals. In basketball, the goal is to score the most points within a specified amount of time. In Super Mario Brothers®, the goals are collecting coins, completing the level, and rescuing Princess Peach.
Play Pieces: Play pieces are the objects used in a game. In checkers, the play pieces are the red and black discs. In basketball, the play pieces are the ball and the baskets.
Play Space: The play space is the specific area in which you will play a game. In checkers, the play space is the board. In basketball, it is the court. In Super Mario Brothers®, it is the digital world.
Play/test: Once you have created your game, have other members play it. Watch to see if they are having fun.
Players: All games have players. In games like basketball, players are on teams. In games like checkers, players play against one other player. In a game like Super Mario Brothers®, players play alone.
Rules: All games have rules that explain how to play and make the game "fun." The rules of basketball include not being able to run with the ball without dribbling.
Think: Think about your game design challenge. Many game designers draw pictures, create characters, and use game tokens to help them think about their game design ideas.