Designing a Generic Educational Game Shell

Designing a Generic Educational Game Shell

Louise Sauvé (Télé-université, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-731-2.ch023


This chapter describes the design phase of the creation of a generic educational game shell (GEGS) for the frame game Parcheesi™. The frame game structure was adapted through modifications to the game board, materials, and game scenario, and navigation aids were added to guide players. Learning content was integrated into the game, and pedagogical aspects of the game (i.e., objectives, target learners, school learning material) were specified. Mechanisms were added to create various question types and to provide for feedback, debriefing, and game evaluation. Finally, these modifications and additions were summarized into a design plan for the technical/ media development team. Screen and form layouts were used to communicate the plan in non-technical terms for feedback and to further guide the developers. Finally, the Web pages of the GEGS were designed in the form of a model. The chapter closes with suggestions for avoiding common errors in the design of online educational games.
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Adapting The Structure Of A Frame Game

In creating a GEGS, the structure of a frame game must generally be altered to include pedagogic and technical aspects while taking into account the requirements of its target users. We now examine the steps in adapting a game frame, accessories, and scenario (gameplay), including its rules and instructions.

The Game Board

Generally, the game board is not modified when it is reproduced in GEGS. The number of paths in the initial itinerary of a player’s position marker (“token”) should be maintained to sustain interest in the game, which was the case for our GEGS: 56 squares in the regular path (Figure 1a) were maintained on the GEGS board. However, to meet our pedagogical requirements, we added a second fast track to the original board, while maintaining the original number of squares and the square board shape. The second track allows a player’s token to reach the center of the board with half as many squares as in the original track (Figure 1b). We also replaced the pluses in the four corners with slots for photos or images to illustrate learning content.

Figure 1.

(a) The original Parcheesi game board;(b) Adapted Parcheesi board.

Game Accessories

Parcheesi accessories include dice, tokens, needles or spinners, playing cards – all objects which can potentially be manipulated and changed. For a GEGS, all additions of new elements must be explained and rules to regulate them added to the game. In the Parcheesi GEGS, the number of tokens per player or team (4) was maintained although we added the ability to change their appearance (Figure 2).

Figure 2.

Parcheesi game tokens

In our adaptation, players click (roll) two dice rather than just one. We added the second die to speed up token movement.

Although the original game did not have cards, we added game cards containing closed or open questions that must be correctly answered for a player to move a token or receive rewards or setbacks. Three types of cards were added to introduce learning content and the element of luck:

  • Learning cards, which have thirteen different types of questions to integrate simple and complex learning content.

  • Team cards to stimulate competition among players while they are displayed. The first player to respond correctly to the learning activity displayed on a card wins additional points.

  • Good luck/bad luck cards, which introduce an element of luck and add suspense by increasing the uncertainty of a player’s chances of winning.

These cards support learning objectives and help maintain motivation. These additions also affected the game rules and instructions, as explained below.

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