Adventures in Gamification: Week Four – Scenarios as Levellers

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Welcome back to Week Four! So far we’ve covered the introduction and trying to define what a game truly is, the strategic use of games and applying games in education. Phew! We are now into week four of six and are investigating the use of scenarios as levellers.

What is a scenario?

From WikipediaIn the performing arts, a scenario (from Italianthat which is pinned to the scenery[1][2]) is a synoptical collage of an event or series of actions and events. In the Commedia dell’arte it was an outline of entrances, exits, and action describing the plot of a play, and was literally pinned to the back of the scenery. It is also known as canovaccio or “that which is pinned to the canvas” of which the scenery was constructed.”  
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So a scenario sets the scene.  In video games, you often have an opening introduction or vignette that explains the mission or the premise for the game.  It’s what catches your attention and gets you to “buy into” the game.  When I think of the games I play regularly on Facebook, they all had a opening scene that was designed to catch my attention and tease me into playing for a few easy levels, which gradually get harder or feature a change in the conditions required to advance to the next level (more points required, more tasks to complete, etc).
How can you catch the attention of the learner(s) in your life?  By making things seem like an adventure! Check out Module 4 for more information!

Levelling Options

So, once you have devised a game, how do you keep in interesting?  Challenging?
As previously mentioned, you have to make it harder to advance or to complete a challenge.  This is done in many ways.  I will only review a couple, and you can find more when you work on Module 4 yourself!  Be sure to let us know what other examples you came up with in the comments below or in the unit forums.
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Weightings –  For example, ending a game on an exact throw.  Remember when Trivial Pursuit was played on everyones coffee table?  You earned your 6 wedges but couldn’t win unless you solved a final question on the middle cog.  If you rolled past the hub, you would answer a regular question and then wait for your next turn to try again.  Wasn’t it frustrating to get the answer wrong and have to roll all over to try again?
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Abrupt Change of Conditions – You are mid way through a football (soccer) game and a teammate trips an opponent.  The Ref then awards a Penalty Kick to the opposing team.  Now you have to play by a different set of rules while the kick takes place, giving the opposing team a chance to get ahead. (See Law 14 for more information).
There were many more Levelling Options provided…I just don’t want to give away all of the secrets from the course.  I will share another secret though…I knew absolutely NOTHING about football (soccer) and had to research all of it to share with you!

Intermittent Reinforcement Schedules and Cognitive Dissonance

Perhaps you have heard of B.F. Skinner who was an American Psychologist who developed various theories – but one particularly interesting one was one that focused on Intermittent reinforcements.  This theory was tested on pigeons who were more prone to act when they could only sometimes get what they want.  Basically, strictly positive reinforcement wasn’t enough.  The withdrawal of rewards occasionally make the process more interesting and exciting.  Motivation and Human Behaviour….
Changes in the probability of reward can cause a change in motivating properties.  This partially explains gambling addictions.  Who are more likely to be driven by Chance?  Extroverts!  Introverts tend to want to be rewarded in a more linear relationship to their abilities.

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort[1] experienced by an individual who (1) holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time or (2) is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.[2] ~ Wikipedia

Long and short of it?  Having to earn the opportunity to learn means you will appreciate the learning all the more!
Want to learn more about the differences between men and women?  Module 4 has some interesting commentary!  Worth checking out and relating to your own life and the people in it!  There’s also a lot more information on Cognitive Dissonance…and a fun little project to do – see mine below!

In Summary

We covered a lot this week. Here are a few key points…but once again, not all of them!

  • Setting the scene provides the background info – can be realistic or far out there!
  • Making a game increasingly difficult keeps it interesting!
  • Earning the opportunity to learn makes one appreciate the learning more!

Next week we will learn about the Hero’s Journey, AKA the monomyth.  I admit to looking ahead a little…mythology is very interesting and I think I need to re-watch  a mythology based movie to see if I can apply the steps of the Hero’s Journey to it…perhaps Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief will do!  Don’t forget to add your projects and notes from this week to your Accredible profile and come back next Friday to find out what happens next!

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