I recently designed a game for one of my courses in which students were to develop soft skills such as communication, decision-making, & problem-solving. Upon receiving the content and learning objectives, I asked the SME what skills the students were expected to possess when working in industry. I found out the students were doing a management degree and this particular course was a pre-requisite. I thought a game can best serve the purpose of engaging the students in some decision-making activities by simulating the real world for them. The content was merely pushing information on theories with minimal activities through which students could have a chance to learn about themselves and find out whether they possess those skills or not.
In the game I designed, the students play the role of a manager in order to resolve some issues with their staff. The game is designed from simple to more complex decision-making steps, with the higher steps to be unlocked by completing the lower ones successfully. They are able to evaluate their decision-making and problem-solving skills based on the points they collect in each step/station. In addition, their attempts are limited to three thumbs-up icons if they make wrong choices. They’ll lose the game if all three thumbs-up fall. Each choice follows a feedback and hint.
From the look of it, you can tell that it looks very basic with no graphics. Due to time constraint, I tried to make it as basic as possible, by only focusing on the learning objectives. The project timeline didn’t allow me to come up with a serious game, and this is the best I could think of.
What I did differently from my previous game designs was that I didn’t concentrate on the aesthetics much. This would have taken long if I’d opted to do so. All I ensured to get right was the key elements which I summarize below:
- Making the scenarios feel as authentic as possible (Reflecting on my own challenges as a project manager)
- Allowing students to monitor their progress by ranking the range of points collected
- Providing feedback for all the choices even the very good ones so they know why they made the right decision
- Restricting them not to have many attempts because that might not happen in real life
- Using easy-to-difficult steps in order to maintain their motivation
In the end, here’s Karl Kapp’s webinar on Engaging Learners Through Game-Thinking that I recommend to you too.