What game would you have designed when you were 13? Here's what my students did.
My 13 year old middle school gifted students design strategy games over the course of a semester, and here are their results. We spend two months playing a wide variety of strategy games and analyzing theme, mechanics, and victory conditions. Then, students design their own. They spend about two months on their design and by the end, have created a complete prototype and rule set.
I think game design is the best thing that I've ever taught. My students love games and that hooks them from the start. The project is challenging in so many ways and gets harder, and more rewarding, with every step. Choosing the theme allows them to immerse themselves deeply into a subject that matters to them. Then, by focusing on mechanics and victory conditions, they must think deeply about the experience they are trying to create for their players. Writing the ruleset is the next level of challenge because they must distill their ideas into a cogent, functional set AND then explain it so others can have the same experience in playtesting. After a cycle of playtesting and refinement, students create a polished prototype and we publish the results here for all the world to see.
The project requires holistic, visual-spatial thinking as well as analytical, sequential thinking. They must design the game they want while keeping what gamers want and need in mind. They have to be creative on deadlines and manage their time in class to determine their own courses of action. I never let students design a game with a partner because at the end of class, each student has full ownership of everything in their box--all 8,000 decisions are theirs forever.
All things considered, the results are pretty impressive for students whose only strategy gaming experience might have included Risk and Stratego before this class.
Please feel free to make comments, show love, ask questions, and help support the future game designers of tomorrow. My students and I will be actively reviewing responses every day and they will respond.
After 24 hours, to have over 200 thumbs, this means SO much to them. They were so excited to see such a great response (we are at the top of the "Hot" Geeklist section!). BGG is the best online community!!! Thanks for your support!
Edit: over 300!
BLOW THE ROOF OFF! Over 500! Thanks to everyone at BGG for showing such strong support for my students' games. I wish you all could see how excited and happy they are to have so much positive support shown for their games. From thumbs to comments to messages to talking about it at Geekway this past weekend, I have had so many positive comments to pass along. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and this definitely inspires me to keep going as well. Hopefully next year, these students will choose advanced game design as an independent study option, and you'll continue to see these designers produce even better games. Next year's batch of 7th graders' games will be coming, as well, and after seeing what they can do in 6th grade, I am certain that you'll see some exciting new game designs again.
Today is my students' last day in class, so we will try to answer any last lingering questions, but if they don't get a chance to respond, please know that they have read everything and will continue to think and work on their games.
Thanks so much BGG! Wooooooooooooooohooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!
600. Y'all are makin' me blush. This has been so inspiring and exciting for my students. I'm going to be spending my summer finishing my book prospectus and getting my blog up and running, so this is just the start of what brilliant kids can do, mine and others. Thanks so much to everyone. BGG is awesome and amazing.
- [+] Dice rolls